Halifax-based Talkatoo has raised $700,000 in equity funding and is on the verge of releasing its new voice-recognition software that can eventually be used across a range of platforms.
There’s been a bit of buzz about Talkatoo in Halifax tech circles recently, partly because of CEO Shawn Wilkie’s track record as a serial entrepreneur and partly because of its potential as a Software-as-a-Service product that works on a variety of operating systems.
He will present the new product at DemoCamp at Volta on Wednesday night, after which his team is preparing an initial launch of the new product on Oct. 23.
“A while ago, we started chewing on the idea of a voice-recognition product that would work across platforms,” said Wilkie in an interview last week. “We’ve been steadily working on it for four months and we’ve almost cracked it. We’ve been quietly developing it behind a curtain, and building a product. We’re close to releasing a product for both Windows and Mac that will take your speech and turn it into text.”
Wilkie’s career as an entrepreneur began when, as a frosh at St. Francis Xavier University, he began selling computers to students. More recently, he was a co-founder of Dragon Veterinary, which provides voice recognition software for veterinarians. Wilkie sold his share in the company earlier this year to Co-Founder Tomek Obirek, in what he described as a fair deal for both parties.
While at Dragon, Wilkie grew frustrated with what he saw as the outdated technology surrounding a lot of voice-recognition software, some of which works off obsolete platforms. He set out to develop a SaaS product that can operate off both Apple and non-Apple hardware.
Teaming up with long-time CFO Aly G. Mawji, Wilkie is now working toward a launch for a Windows-based product, to be followed shortly by a Mac-based product. They will follow up with mobile products for Android and iOS.
The initial pricing will be for individual users, and Wilkie believes it will greatly improve the productivity of professionals and others. It will especially help someone who has, say, a PC at work but owns a personal iPhone or iPad.
“We’re doing all of it because we truly hate keyboards,” he said. “We don’t think that they have a place in the future. We think that by creating a multi-platform voice recognition product, we’ll able to be part of this in the future.”
Wilkie admits that voice-recognition products are known for garbling people’s instructions, but he added that technology has improved and is more accurate than before. He said that with the proper hardware, Talkatoo will have a 90 to 95 percent accuracy. That percentage will improve as users add words to their personalized vocabularies.
Wilkie is confident there will be enough take-up of the new product that he can drum up a follow-on round of investors and continue to grow the company.
“We’re just coming out of our shell,” said Wilkie. “We have nine people working on this now and that could triple by this time next year. We have some Silicon Valley investors watching us, and we know what we need to do to raise a seed round.”