Leiden-based startup Whispp, specializing in artificial intelligence to empower individuals with speech impediments, has successfully raised €750k in a seed round. The funding comes from lead investor LUMO Labs, with additional support from Leiden University holding Libertatis Ergo Holding BV (LEH) and various angel investors.
Whispp’s innovative real-time assistive voice technology and calling app are designed to transform speech affected by conditions such as stuttering, throat cancer, vocal cord paralysis, and ALS back into the person’s original, natural voice. This breakthrough aims to benefit an estimated 300 million people worldwide.
Addressing neurological changes in the speech mechanism, Whispp’s technology intentionally steers the voice towards whispering, proven to be helpful for several speaking disorders. Individuals who stutter severely can experience an 85 percent reduction in stuttering frequency when whispering. Those with conditions like Spasmodic Dysphonia and Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis find speaking more relaxed and fluent when using the app.
Joris Castermans, Founder and CEO of Whispp, shared the ambitious vision of making the assistive voice technology available on every smartphone and laptop globally to foster a more inclusive world. The company plans to collaborate with mobile network operators and major technology firms, leveraging LUMO’s extensive experience and network to drive growth.
Castermans, inspired by his own childhood stuttering, founded Whispp in 2019. The recent investment round follows a 2022 pre-seed round led by Libertatis Ergo Holding B.V., a Leiden University subsidiary. The fresh capital will be utilized to launch the assistive voice technology and the company’s first paid subscription-based calling app. Additionally, the investment from LUMO Labs will support further development and expansion into European and U.S. markets through strategic partnerships.
Sven Bakkes, Founding Partner at LUMO Labs, commended Castermans and his co-founder Akash for turning personal struggles into innovative solutions. Andy Lürling, LUMO Labs Founder Partner, emphasized the profound impact of Whispp on global diversity, equity, and inclusion, highlighting its role in allowing individuals with speech impediments to be heard and actively participate in society.