Look Labs Vocalid Mit Technologyreview: Voice-overs are a market that excites many entrepreneurs and VCs with the prospect of building highly scalable and cost-efficient businesses. Companies like WellSaid Labs and VocaliD have taken this opportunity to pioneer early alpha versions of these businesses, both of which provide a way for brands to quickly create voice actors by simply saying their lines.
WellSaid Labs operates on a pretty basic level by providing a service where companies can record their own voice with a smartphone app, which they then upload to the platform in exchange for a royalty payment. From there, everyone is familiar with this concept. VocaliD offers a more advanced version of Wellsaid Labs’ product, sending the company AI collaborators who create content by speaking into the microphone that’s attached to your phone.
These businesses are entering an extremely crowded space and have yet to establish their scale or efficiency in the market. In the future, they may choose to pivot or change their business models altogether, but for now they’re thriving among a niche group of early adopters and entrepreneurs.
In this article, we’ll explore these two companies’ business models, examine how they’re popularizing voice-acting in the digital world, and see where else we can expect such startups to pop up over the next few years.
Table of Contents
1. Who are these startups?
WellSaid Labs was founded in 2014 by previous CEO Tobin Moore and Derek Pelletier, who came from a background in the tech world. Moore worked at the startup LeapFrog, while Pelletier had worked at Google on projects such as Gmail and Voice Search. The team is now comprised of approximately 25 people, with several other developers helping out in various roles. Prior to WellSaid Labs, Pelletier worked at Google when he was just 19 years old. He worked with Moore and their team to create a simple mobile app that can record audio with one tap. Users can then upload their recordings onto the WellSaid Labs website and get a royalty payment for their voice. You can listen to my recording here!
WellSaid Labs’ website also lets you sell your voice for any given price, which gives some users the option to earn income and make a profit off of their voice recordings. In exchange, they say the company receives 80% of your sale price.
The company primarily serves startups and small businesses, who use its “Custom Voice” service to create characters such as talking robots and customer support representatives. While WellSaid Labs’ original business model revolved around providing a place for users to make money by uploading their voice recordings, it has since pivoted to focus on helping brands create their own voice actors.
VocaliD isn’t quite as well-known as WellSaid Labs, but the startup is still growing and expanding its services. VocaliD was founded in early 2017 by David Silvera, a former machine learning engineer who worked on Google’s voice recognition products and then at Activision. Silvera gave his previous company $100K when he left, along with a vague plan to show off VocaliD before it was ready for the public. He wanted to build a digital assistant for Activision’s popular shooter game Call of Duty.
Much like WellSaid Labs, VocaliD offers to let users create voice-over clips with their own voices and then sell them after using their patented technology that mixes synthetic information with an original recording. On their website, the company says: “The AI learns your voice from your recordings and we use this model to synthesize speech that sounds like you.”
2. What’s the value proposition for customers?
WellSaid Labs’ primary value proposition is that it provides a quick, simple way for companies to create unique voices. It takes no time to add a voice-over character to your product and you can even do it yourself with a smartphone app. You can then use this voice on your website or in product videos or tutorials.
The company also offers support at every step of the process, answering questions that customers have about royalty payments and how to add these voices in different ways. With VocaliD, you can also record your voice in your own phone and post it to their website. They have over 40 languages available so you can create content in any language you wish.
The value of a voice-over character can be quite powerful in the right situation. If designed well and distributed effectively, it can make the brand much more personable or relatable.