About: Voice Assist Inc.
2 South Pointe Drive, Suite 100
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Lake Forest, Calif., Voice Assist speech
enables mobile applications and services. Voice Assist is a hosted platform
for developing and deploying voice controlled mobile applications and
services. It includes a fast and safe way to make calls, manage your
e-mails, send text messages and post to Social networks such as Facebook,
Twitter and Chatter by voice commands. The Voice Assist Platform provides a
scalable solution for developers to add voice into any application.
D. Metcalf – Chairman and CEO
As chairman and CEO, Michael
Metcalf brings over 26 years experience in the telecom and speech
recognition industries. He is a serial entrepreneur, having previously
founded and managed a number of successful companies. He was founder, CEO
and chairman of SpeechPhone LLC, a cloud based unified communications
service provider. He also founded and was CEO and chairman of Sound
Advantage LLC, provider of on site speech recognition based messaging
platforms and earlier in his career he founded and managed Telwest Inc, an
interconnect and systems integrator.
Products conceived and
developed by Mr. Metcalf have won over 25 of the top telecom and speech
recognition industry awards including four Product of the Year awards. Mr.
Metcalf has the unique ability to recognize opportunities and then conceive
and develop commercial grade technology to meet the need.
Mr. Metcalf is a visionary
leader that leads by faith, hard work and personal example. His previous
board positions include Safe Harbor International, a 501c3 disaster relief
and missions outreach to the Sudan, as well as director at Coastland
Christian Bible College and University.
Randy Granovetter serves as the president for
Voice Assist, bringing over 30 years experience in wireless and unified
communications. She was the founder and CEO of JABRA Corporation (acquired
by GN Netcom), president of Blyth Software Corporation, president of Digital
Orchid, general manager for Microsoft for wireless communications, unified
communications, security, emerging markets and innovations/prototypes, and
vice president at Qualcomm for QUALCOMM’s Enterprise, Co-Branding and MVNO
strategy development in Qualcomm Internet Services (QIS), the QUALCOMM
division chartered with driving applications and services for the wireless
While at Microsoft, she was
responsible for developing and introducing new mobile, wireless, IP-PBX and
VoIP technologies for emerging markets and security products. She
accomplished three mergers and acquisitions for Microsoft in security,
VoIP/Web conferencing and Mobile Browsers as well as five strategic
partnerships and joint ventures.
Ms. Granovetter holds a
master of arts in language development and special education and bachelor of
science degrees in special education, elementary education and language
development from Vanderbilt University. She has received several industry
awards including Star of the Industry by Computer Telephony Magazine and the
Distinguished Woman Award by Telemarketing Magazine and Call Center
Solutions, Order of the Long Leaf Pine in North Carolina presented by
Governor Hunt, the MacUser Magazine Award for Desktop Publisher of the Year.
conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFOinterviews.com, Published –
January 14, 2011
CEOCFO: Mr. Metcalf
what is the vision for Voice Assist?
When you think about technology whether it be a mobile phone, iPad, land
line, PC or whatever the device might be, there are lots of small buttons
and sub menus. Essentially, technology is great for all that it can do, but
the interface is so complicated and we are using more and more devices to
the extent that it becomes almost confusing. So really, the real vision for
Voice Assist, at least initially, is to eliminate the need to use the keypad
or keyboard to interact, communicate or transact using any application on
any phone or device. Voice Assist is the perfect hands-free solution for the
people that need to communicate and interact while driving or on the go.
Unlike other speech services
companies, Voice Assist facilitates two way communications, empowering users
to communicate hands-free, by voice from any device at any location. Voice
Assist enables users to get things done with a Bluetooth headset or
speakerphone. By eliminating the keyboard and keypads, Voice Assist provides
a cost-effective solution for spreading safety while increasing end-user
Are you in the development stage or do you have a commercial service on the
We are providing commercial service to the public right now. We have a
number of really great applications that are available on our website at
www.voiceassist.com and it is available for instant activation. Our
VoiceAssist™ solution works on any iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Widows
Mobile phone. It works on any mobile phone or device that is 3G, 4G or WiFi-enabled
and it works on any carrier network. It even works on landlines and VoIP
How does your service work?
We are a hosted speech services company and all of our technology is
cloud-based. The way that it works is you make a phone call to the cloud
from any existing telephone. You can do that by programming a speed dial
button on your existing phone. If you have an IP connected device, you can
use a SIP client to connect over the data network as well. You just put the
Voice Assist icon on the device or the PC and you click on that icon to form
a voice connection from that device to our cloud based speech platform. From
there you are going to hear the main prompt that says “Voice Assist’. The
rest is all talk, literally speech commands. There’s no menu, you just say
what you want too. For example, you can say “call” or “email’ or “text” and
then any name in your address book. Then the system will dial or record your
text or email and send it.
You could even say “post to facebook or twitter or chatter by voice” and
then you speak and we type it and post it for you. It’s really easy and it’s
really fast, you just say it and it’s done.
Many times voice products do not work as intended; how is it that Voice
Assist can recognize a voice so well and not have some of the glitches that
have happened in the past?
That is a really good question. In the old days, the kind of technology that
speech technology companies would use was sort of like Voice Print, where
you would map the analog sign waves and plot the highs and lows of the graph
and then store numeric values. Then anytime someone spoke, you would store
another value and compare these voice print files to the previous ones that
you stored. So the larger the grammar, the greater the odds that the voice
print would be mismatched. That is why it didn’t work very well in the old
days. Voice technology today uses phonetic based voice recognition engines.
They use text, so there is no voice training of the product. They are really
using data and we extract data from things like Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo,
Gmail, SalesForce.com or whatever it might be that you are using. Then we
use the data, which becomes the grammar. This is why we say “data is the
conversation”. And since we’re using phonetic based voice recognition and
data that you already have, the odds go way up that we’ll understand exactly
what your saying. I would say that the accuracy ratio is now in the high
Who is your typical customer?
Different people use Voice Assist, but it is mostly mobile professionals. It
is people that are on the go and people in the car driving. Because thirty
states in the U.S. have passed hands-free driving laws, people use it when
they are in the car because it’s the law. They can dial, email or text
hands-free to comply with the new laws. Then, after you have used it for a
couple of weeks, you find yourself using it even after you leave the car;
maybe when you are walking down the street or even when you get back to your
house. You may even use it in your office because you can speak faster than
you can type. And because our technology works from any phone, we find
people prefer to use voice than type. They start in the car and then take it
home or into the office because it’s so convenient and saves time. Since it
uses the same voice commands from any phone, it quickly becomes “the
preferred way” to communicate or interact. I think that the common thread
that we see from our current customer base is that busy people love this
because they can more done – fast. By pressing one button, the customer can
dial, email, text or post to social networks or even do all four things on
one call and then hang up.
We have lots of young people
who love new technology but we also have lots of older folks that hate
technology but they love the simplicity to just speak.
What is the cost?
Today we have two products. We have the Voice Assist Standard, which is just
$4.95 a month. So for less than $5.00 a month you can add these kinds of
voice services to any existing phone and immediately use all the features.
You can dial, email, text, and you can even post to Facebook or Twitter by
voice for under $5.00 a month. Then we have Voice Assist Premium Plus that
we just introduced with SalesForce at DreamForce. We introduced the newest
module called Chatter By Voice, which integrates SalesForce.com so that
mobile sales people can call in and update salesforce records, schedule next
action items, or even post to chatter or listen to a chatter post. Chatter
is exploding as the secured social networking product of choice for
Salesforce.com customers. Now, these same customers can talk to their
Salesforce.com database or even Chatter by Voice. This is just the beginning
of a series of suites that we are building as we work with additional
partners. You will find some additional Voice Assist Premium Plus packages
that you will be able to purchase coming out in 2011.
What is the competitive landscape for Voice Assist?
We really feel that there is really nobody in the space that we compete with
directly. There are a lot of really good Speech companies out there that
have really good technologies, such as Nuance. However, there business model
is really to go license ASR and TTS engines to people that have big
development budgets and want to develop big proprietary speech applications
primarily for call centers. We really don’t compete in that space. Then you
have companies like Microsoft who also have great speech technology, but the
way that they are going to bring that technology out to the market doesn’t
compete with our business model either. We’re really the low cost provider
of best of breed speech services on a hosted or pay per use model. We’re
providing a great safe driving application as the core product and then
adding suites for specific verticals while providing the tools and super low
cost platform to enterprise clients and developers who want to add even
more. So we’re creating a community of people focused on driver safety and
personal productivity apps that run in the cloud and can be accessed from
any phone or IP connected device. Other competitors are far too dependent on
a specific handset or operating system. We are making great speech
technology available at very low cost by taking what is normally very
expensive resources like automatic speech recognition (ASR) and text to
speech (TTS) and speech to text (STT) technologies, and making these
resources available over an IP-based network on either a pay per use model
or on a monthly recurring subscription model. Because of our unique
architecture, we share these expenses resources on a time sharing model to
bring down the cost of speech services to the point where the average person
can afford it. Then we add really simple tools and provide hosted speech
services to developers on a very low cost “pay per use” model so developers
can afford to add speech services into any mobile application.
How do you take your product to market?
There are definitely two models. We spent the early part of December at
DreamForce, as we rolled out Chatter By Voice with the SalesForce community.
It was amazing to see how many corporations are moving towards cloud-based
computing. This is the wave of the future. Cloud-based computing is here to
stay. There is a very vibrant SalesForce.com community and user base. As you
probably know SalesForce is probably the most successful cloud-based
computing company in the world. We are really excited to be able to bring
products out that really extend the power of what SalesForce has done with
cloud-based computing; mobile people that are driving in the cars can now
access SalesForce by voice. So we saw primarily large corporations, big
business-to-business type accounts at Dreamforce. They expressed interest in
piloting five, ten, twenty-five people groups and wanted to bring their
mobile work force into the realm of being compliant to the hands-free
driving laws. It is kind of a safety-first sort of thing, but then they also
want to be as productive as possible when they are stuck in traffic. We are
turning that unproductive windshield time into personal productivity time
and not just for business, but also for home, because at the end of the day
after doing business you are probably stuck in traffic on the way home. Now
you can send a text to your family members, make phone calls, and respond to
emails. We are really crossing the bridge between the work that you do for
the office and the communication that you need to do for home. It is for the
soccer moms who want to use the product while she is driving kids in the
back of the van because she has to keep her hands on the wheel and her eyes
on the road. She doesn’t want to put the kids at risk so at less than $5 a
month even soccer moms will go to our website and sign up for the service so
that they can drive safe. The thing that is really exciting too is it is
very viral. It is growing right now all by itself even before we began
spending any money on sales and marketing. As every new customer sends a
text or an email, or receives a text from people, suddenly they start
talking about what it does. It has taken on a life of its own and it is
growing virally over the internet right now.
Very exciting times for you!
Yes, it is; we are very excited about it.
What is ahead; what is your strategy in the next six months to a year?
Right now, we are really focusing on some of these bigger vertical
applications and the larger companies that have either a really big sales
force or a really big customer base where there are some common applications
that they need to get access to. For the next six months to a year we are
going to be very busy working on bringing additional products like Chatter
By Voice that we did with SalesForce. We have a number of these customers in
the works already that you will be seeing coming out in the coming weeks and
months ahead. We are working on the development community where we are going
to be introducing some really simple widgets. We think we can become the
voice inside lots of applications, tens of thousands of applications by
doing it that way.
So this is going to potentially explode!
That is our hope and that is certainly our aim. We are working hard to make
that very thing happen.
Do you see this being something standard!
Exactly! Why use menus or press lots of little buttons if you didn’t have
This sounds intuitive!
We are processing over sixty thousand voice requests a day right now and we
expect that to increase incrementally here on a weekly basis. That’s 60
thousand times a day someone didn’t push any buttons.
It’s not just about sending text by voice. It’s the ability to send or
receive text or interace with data when you want, how you want and from any
phone. Consumers and business people can use voice when it makes sense or
type when talking out load may not be appropriate. Voice Assist is the
perfect assistant because you only use it when you want to. We try to be
very accommodating to provide just the right amount of assistance only when
What is the financial picture like for Voice Assist today?
Voice Assist is growing right now. This is really an exciting time for us
because really we are just now starting to make some real sales, marketing,
and business development effort. Even though the company has been generating
revenue for several years now, it was really the result of an extended beta
test that we did where we were giving away services for free and then
listening to our customers and fine tuning the products and services and
making it really valuable to them. Once we finally got the customer
satisfaction in the high ninety percentiles is when we starting telling
people you can’t use this for free anymore. Now they would have to pay to
continue to use it. We were very excited as we got a very high ratio of
people that converted and became paying subscribers. We were even more
surprised when we learned that for every paying subscriber we got at least
two more that were referred and became paying subscribers. We’ve been able
to achieve over $1 million a year in revenue just by word of mouth
We look at that as just the
conclusion of a good beta test and now were at DreamForce to really start to
push the product. This event is amazing, we had over three hundred large
corporate leads that came from the event so far.
Therefore, the picture is
right at the beginning of the bell curve. I think that you are going to see
some great things happen for the company. In addition, we just brought on
some great staff members. So with some new executives joining the company,
we have some great people that have great Rolodex’s that we can tap into. We
have strong momentum coming from SalesForce.com right now and a couple other
key partners that should come on board in the coming two quarters, so we
think it is going to be a very bright and profitable 2011.
Do you do much investor outreach?
Not really; we really have not focused on that. We have been so busy
literally just building the company that we really haven’t taken the time to
do that, but that is certainly one of the things that we are going to start
doing. We are going to make a really good effort to communicate with the
investment community on a regular basis because as a public company that has
now become critically more important to us. As you know, we only became a
public company just a few short months ago.
For potential investors, why is this the time to pay attention to Voice
First of all, keep in mind that Voice Assist is a public company and so all
the information is out there on the internet about us. You can see our
progress as we go, which is a good and healthy thing. We are uniquely
positioned, we have the right management team, and the timing in this market
is right now. You saw again what happened at DreamForce, and if you were to
listen to the vision of the leaders at Salesforce and others involved in the
cloud computing environment, the timing is absolutely right now. I am more
convinced that our timing couldn’t be better. Cloud computing and “software
as a service”, is about to explode because people are using too many devices
and they are accessing information from too many different methods today and
we could really simplify that. Because of the company’s technology, the
management team and the timing in the market, all three of those things are
hitting together at the right time. It is the right combination for us so
that we really have a shot to become a leader in this space. There is really
nobody else with the right model, the right technology and the right team to
exploit this except us. So the market is wide open and massive; so it’s just
When you think of Voice Assist, that’s exactly what it is. It is voice
assistance; it is the voice inside your application.
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