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SF Showcases: MyVoice

Here at SocialFinance.ca, nothing excites us more than the opportunity to share stories about the great work happening in Canadian social finance! This goes double when the work is being done by our partners. A few months ago Trish Nixon introduced the 2nd cohort of Impact8, Ontario’s first social venture accelerator. Now with Impact8′s Demo Day just around the corner, we’re profiling this year’s Impact8 ventures. Today we’re chatting with Tony Gross, Community Director for MyVoice. The aim, as always, is to shine a light on folks in the field by lobbing a few questions their way: What problems are they tackling? What have they found to be best practices? Can this model be brought to scale and/or replicated? As always, we want your input on this and future profiles. Who would you like to know more about? What kind of stories do we need to tell more often? Whose lessons learned would you like to hear? Tweet us, Facebook us, or email us!

Tony, to start us off can you tell us what MyVoice does in a tweet (140 characters or less)?

MyVoice apps give a voice to people of all ages with speech disabilities, helping them access education, employment and social life.

Expanding from that answer, what is the problem that your venture was conceived in order to address? What do you feel is unique about your approach to solving this problem?
70 million people worldwide live with a disability that affects their ability to talk. Until recently, assistive speech devices were expensive, complex to use, support and out of reach to 90% of the people who could benefit. MyVoice technology pioneers affordable, accessible and easy to use speech apps for people of all ages. MyVoice apps reflect the individuals personality and let them speak easier and faster than alternatives. Unique features include location aware vocabularies, helpful word prediction based on Twitter and tools to support users over any distance seamlessly.

What factors have been important for getting you to where you are today and what will you need to build on to take your venture to the next level?

MyVoice had incredible support from NSERC, Google, University of Toronto, Ontario Centres of Excellence to name just a few and many awards of distinction. MyVoice is the only Canadian speech app developer approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health. Our apps are robust, finished products used by thousands of people worldwide. We continue to improve our products and lead innovation in the assistive technology world. Investment, primarily in marketing and PR will allow us to expand adoption through marketing and awareness campaigns of our successes.


Blue sky time! Where is your venture in 5 years? Where’s the marketplace? How big a dent have you made in the 
problem you’re tackling?

Little more than 10% of the potential market for assistive speech aids is currently being served. Through the platform of affordable, mainstream devices such as smartphones and tablets, our apps can be installed and used by people within minutes, anywhere in the world. Our current and future customers include educational, institutional and volume purchasers as well as the millions of families now enabled to make their own choices. As the first to introduce French language offerings, we are capable of offering almost every language more easily than others. We support a diverse range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Strokes, MS, and many others. Autism is our largest user group estimated as 1 in 55 people and growing. Described as “human rights technology”, our apps remove barriers of access  to virtually all aspects of life by providing a voice those that need one.

Thanks for chatting with us today, Tony! To close it out, please check out this great CityNews story on MyVoice which features their first user & the late great Roger Ebert!

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for more profiles of the amazing cohort of Impact8 social ventures!

 

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