Voice skins have become a very popular feature for AI-based voice assistants to personalize some of the more anodyne aspects of helpful, but also boring and robotic speaking voices that you get from services like Alexa. Now, a startup developing voice skins for various companies to use in their services, as well as third parties to create and promote, is raising some money to grow its growth.
LOVO, the Berkeley, California-based developer of speech and synthetic language tools for artificial intelligence (AI), this week completed a $ 4.5 million Pre-Series A round put together by South Korean Kakao Entertainment with Kakao Investment and LG CNS, an IT solutions company from LG Group.
The previous investor SkyDeck Fund and a private investor, Vice President of Finance at DoorDash, Michael Kim, have also joined the financing.
The proceeds will be used to advance his research and development in the fields of artificial intelligence and synthetic speech and to grow the team.
“We plan on hiring heavy in all functions, from machine learning, artificial intelligence and product development to marketing and business development. The fund will also be used to secure resources such as GPUs and CPUs, ”Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Tom Lee told TechCrunch.
LOVO was founded in November 2019 and has 17 employees, including both co-founders, the Chief Executive Office Charlie Choi and COO Lee.
The company plans to double the improvement on LOVO’s AI model, improve its AI voices, and create a better product that outperforms anything in the current market, Lee said.
“Our goal is to be the world leader in delivering AI voices that touch people’s hearts and emotions. We want to democratize the limits of content production. We want to be the platform for everything to do with the voice, ”said Lee.
With the mission, LOVO enables companies and individual content creators to generate voiceover content for use in marketing, e-learning, customer support, films, games, chatbots and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
“Since our launch just over a year ago, users have created over 5 million language content on our platform,” said Co-Founder and CEO Choi.
Last year LOVO launched its first product, LOVO Studio, which is an easy-to-use application for individuals and businesses to find the voice they want, produce and publish their voiceover content. Developers can use LOVO’s Voiceover API to convert text to speech in real time, integrated into their applications. Users can also create their own AI voices simply by reading 15 minutes of script through LOVO’s DIY voice cloning service.
LOVO has more than 200 voice skins that provide users with voices categorized by language, style, and situation suitable for their various needs.
According to Lee, the global text-to-speech (TTS) market is valued at $ 3 billion and the global voiceover market is estimated at around $ 10 billion. Based on Research Interviewer’s report published in August 2021, the global TTS market is forecast to grow by $ 5.61 billion by 2028, from $ 1.94 billion in 2020.
LOVO has already gained 50,000 users and more than 50 corporate customers, including the US-based JB Hunt, Bouncer, CPA Canada, LG CNS and the South Korean Shinhan Bank, as Lee mentioned.
LOVO’s four core markets are marketing, education, entertainment films and games, and AR / VR, Lee said. The film Spiral, the latest in the Saw series, has LOVO’s voice in the film, he noted.
LOVO is expected to create additional synergies in the entertainment industry with its recent funding from a South Korean entertainment company.
JH Ryu, Vice President of CEO Vision Office at Kakao Entertainment, said, “I am excited about LOVO’s synergies with Kakao Entertainment’s future efforts in the entertainment industry, particularly with web novels and music,” added Ryu: “AI technology opens the doors to a new market for audio content and we anticipate a future in which the individual’s voice is effectively used as an intellectual property and asset. “
Chon Tang, founding partner of the SkyDeck Fund, said, “Audio is a unique form of information, but it is also difficult to produce, especially on a large scale. LOVO’s synthetic platform based on artificial intelligence has consistently outperformed other cloud-based solutions in terms of quality and costs. “
LOVO is also preparing to penetrate further into the international market. “We have a strong presence in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and receive signals from the rest of Europe, South America and Asia,” said Lee. LOVO has an office in South Korea and plans to expand into Europe soon, added Lee.