Ukrainian team recreates voice of any person with neural networks, gets to Techstars

Kyiv-based startup Respeecher is working on a technology that can copy the sound of any person’s voice. The team is currently undergoing training at the Techstars accelerator and has received funding from it to the tune of $120,000 in exchange for a share in the company’s equity. Co-founder of the project Dmytro Belevtsov shared the details with AIN.UA.

“Our product allows one person to speak the voice of another without using text (speech-to-speech). For example, I can speak in the voice of Barack Obama. For this, my phrase is transmitted to the algorithm, and in the output in a matter of few minutes we get the same phrase spoken in Obama’s voice, with my intonations and emotional interpretation,” co-founder of the company explains the ideas behind their product.

Co-founders Oleksandr Serdiuk and Dmytro Belevtsov first created a prototype of the project when they were participating in the hackathon organized by Grammarly. But the quality of the program at that moment was imperfect.

Startup founders: Dmytro Belevtsov, Grant Reaber, and Oleksandr Serdiuk

Now the team comprises six people. They work in the Kyiv office of Respeecher. Three co-founders (including Dmytro) are currently undergoing training at the accelerator in Philadelphia.

“Data preparation and training of neural networks requires a small involvement in terms of servicing, so now we work with clients on a project basis. Now we are working, for example, with a Hollywood studio,” says Dmytro.

Who are the clients?

Now the product has grown to the stage of commercial use: the company has entered into contracts with several media and film studios. Respeecher product is quite appealing to them. With its help it is possible, for example, to make any historical figure to pronounce any text in his or her own voice. The main limitation of the product now is that it cannot be used in real-time, but the team is working on it.

Participation in Techstars

According to Dmytro, they decided to participate in the accelerator program, first and foremost because of the high-quality networking. The Philadelphia Techstars program was established in partnership with Comcast, which also owns NBC Universal.

“If you try to reach out to Universal by yourself, it is almost impossible to accomplish through a “cold approach”. We need an introduction. With Techstars, for example, it’s much easier to reach out to people who are responsible for post-production there,” he says.

In addition, participation in the program increases the company’s valuation, which is important for subsequent fundraising. Techstars provides training and office space, it helps structure the business, build it correctly, evaluate the market and your company. The duration of the training program is 3.5 months.