Arrow Flash Funding Winner SpeakSee: Changing the World, One Conversation at a Time

SpeakSee is the world’s first wireless, portable, speech-to-text multi-microphone system with smart device compatibility (patent pending). Learn more about Speaksee, and how to enter for your own chance to win funding through the Arrow Certification Program.

Born to deaf parents, Jari Hazelebach doesn’t recall his youth as remarkably different from anyone else’s. But what he does remember, is feeling frustrated for his folks when they had difficulty following conversations in group settings.

In fact, 466 million deaf or hard-of-hearing people around the world face barriers in following what’s being said. The team behind SpeakSee is working hard to change this.

SpeakSee: changing the world, one conversation at a time

SpeakSee is the world’s first wireless, portable multi-microphone system that can be connected to smart devices (patent pending).  It uses speech recognition to transcribe in real time what’s being said on a smartphone app. If you’re deaf or hard-of-hearing, you can read what’s being said and still follow the conversation.

Hazelebach explains, “The unique advantage about SpeakSee is that it works accurately in group conversations and situations where there is background noise. It identifies different speakers because everyone wears their own microphone, and it leaves out background noise due to the beam-forming technology we incorporated in the microphones.”

The founders of SpeakSee include CEO Jari Hazelebach, CTO Marcel van der Ven and Lead Designer Joshua Flowers. Individually, they each bring a unique set of skills and passion to the product. Jari has previous experience with another speech recognition start-up in San Francisco. Marcel is a self-proclaimed product geek who is passionate about making the world a better place using technology. Flowers has designed a variety of products from scratch and was inspired to create SpeakSee because communication with his grandfather, who became deaf later in life, was no longer possible.

Crowdfunding to learn from future customers

SpeakSee launched on Indiegogo with a self-documented video of five people, all deaf or hard-of-hearing, using a SpeakSee prototype in their daily life. The product and the authenticity of the video resonated with their audience, and they were overwhelmed by the support they received. The SpeakSee campaign raised over $100,000 from more than 300 backers.

Crowdfunding itself was an easy decision for the SpeakSee team. As Hazelebach put it, “We chose crowdfunding because pre-selling your product is a great way to learn from your future customers before you’ve finalized your product. Also, it’s important to find out whether people are able and willing to purchase your product for the price you ask.” 

Overcoming engineering challenges with Arrow expertise

The SpeakSee team applied for the Arrow Certification Program because they believed that Arrow could help their product become a reality. The Arrow Certification Program offers a team of experienced and knowledgeable engineers, so entrepreneurs and startups can receive help as they get their product ready for market. It was obvious to the SpeakSee team that “having an expert distributor on our side who helps us with engineering challenges is of great benefit.”

The SpeakSee team praised Arrow for being “a great help to us by validating our bill of materials and providing feedback on our product. They also introduced us to some useful contacts who assisted with developing the first prototype.  One of the challenges we tackled together was improving audio quality captured by the SpeakSee microphones. One of Arrow’s engineers reviewed our design and after assessing the issue, introduced us to the necessary contact at the manufacturer who had extensive knowledge about this domain. By ourselves we wouldn’t have been able to reach this contact easily. After that, the field application engineer at the manufacturer helped us to quickly tackle the problem we were facing.”

Flash funding: SpeakSee wins $50,000

As the latest Arrow flash funding winner, the SpeakSee team now has $50,000 to help them on their path to production. Their main goals in starting their Indiegogo campaign were to raise funds and validate demand for SpeakSee. With that completed, they’ll be able to use the funds to further develop their prototype toward a product that is ready for manufacturing.

Who will be the next recipient of flash funding from Arrow? Keep checking back to find out which Indiegogo campaign is the next winner. In addition, entrepreneurs can now join the Arrow Certification Program for a chance to win a trip to CES 2019 as well as flash funding opportunities. Learn more to start accessing your own benefits.

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