Speeko is your A.I. Speech Coach with the mission to “help the world communicate confidently, effectively, and inclusively.” They are also the 2020 University of Chicago Alumni New Venture Challenge First Place winner. I chatted with Speeko co-founder and CEO Nico Aguilar to hear about his vision on helping everyone have confidence in their public speaking skills.
BACKGROUND - Turning Fear into Fuel
Picture yourself standing in front of a room full of faces that are all staring right back at you – the lights cast overhead, your palms are sweaty, and you can feel your heart beating in your ears and your face starting to flush. You are prompted to start your speech, and then blank. You forget everything. You’re immediately overwhelmed by the situation and have to leave the room.
This is exactly what happened to Speeko co-founder and CEO Nico Aguilar in his college rhetoric class. Since then, he has made it his goal to make sure others don’t have to struggle with this kind of anxiety with public speaking. He has dedicated his time to not only becoming a better speaker himself, but also helping everyone in the world around him. By working with professional speech coaches, reading public speaking books and just becoming overall immersed in the world of public speaking – Aguilar says that developing speaking skills is a journey that changes people’s lives both professionally and personally in so many different and beneficial ways.
“What we’re doing as a company [at Speeko] is taking that spark that I experienced myself and making it available to the whole world. We can do that now through technology. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment where technology can make building these skills more accessible than ever before. We’re using the power and convenience of our phones to make public speaking easy and ultimately taking the mystery out of it.”
THE PRODUCT - Taking the Mystery Out of Public Speaking
The fear of public speaking is real. It’s called glossophobia, and it is believed to affect up to 70% of people. Speeko hopes to provide all the tools that you need to be a confident and effective communicator. So…here’s how it works:
When you download Speeko’s public speaking app, you are prompted by a friendly speech bubble to set your speech goals and profile. From here, you can either do your daily warm-up or explore various lessons and exercises, but what’s even cooler is the speech recording function. You hit record and start practicing your speech. At the end, the app gives you instant feedback on areas such as your filler words, pacing, pausing, and intonation. Based on this analysis, Speeko recommends various exercises to help improve your trouble areas. It’s as simple as that.
CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS - Your Virtual Voice
We are living in a time now when a lot of communication and relationship building is happening virtually. Whether it’s an interview over Zoom or a coffee chat through Microsoft Teams, we are learning that there is this new stress on communication and how we communicate that is so different than what we’ve been used to. There is this need to still connect and trust others, all while confined in these small virtual squares where we need to represent who we are to the people on the other side of that screen. As such, your voice is that much more important in how you communicate online. Speeko recently launched a course on online speaking in order to tackle this very skill.
“There is a lot of information that you convey through your voice beyond the words that you say. It’s how you deliver your message. It’s your eye contact, hand gestures, and the energy that you bring to the presence of your voice,” says Aguilar.
Speeko recently introduced a new feature in the app that analyzes the words that you say. It gives you feedback on inclusive language and terminology that could be sensitive to your audience. It also detects jargon and conciseness issues. At the end of the day, Speeko hopes to improve your ability to communicate your ideas and connect with your audience.
THE FUTURE - Confidence in Communication
Aguilar and his team have had a lot of learning experiences through creating Speeko, but what they have found most rewarding is knowing that they are positively impacting people’s lives. “It is really unique to have a company where you get messages every day from people saying that you’ve helped them with the challenges that they’re dealing with. It feels so good to build something that is helping people all over with something that I struggled with myself. We want to help people reach their full potential and live their happiest lives,” says Aguilar.
After graduating from the Techstars program in 2018, the company has bootstrapped their way to growth over the past 2 years. Speeko recently won first place and $75,000 in the 2020 University of Chicago Alumni New Venture Challenge at Booth, which they will use to grow their team and continue building momentum with their product. Whether you are about to go into an interview or preparing to give a speech at your best friend’s wedding, Speeko helps you deliver your words confidently.