How this husband-wife duo’s startup is helping people get their voices back
The 1993 Shah Rukh Khan starrer Darr, not only helped the Bollywood star receive critical acclaim for his acting skills, but is also known for the now-famous dialogue, "I love you, K-K-K-Kiran". Stammering has often been used in cinema to dramatise a situation and also to provide comedic relief. But in real life, speech impediments can be embarrassing, as one is unable to communicate effectively.
It is interesting to note that Shah Rukh Khan and other famous personalities overcame speech impediments to succeed in their individual pursuits. But the process of visiting a speech therapist on a regular basis can be quite daunting and dissuading for many. Delhi-based Innoflaps has a low-cost solution to these pain points.
Story so far
Innoflaps is a startup in the healthcare space that aims to help people who have speech and language impediments such as stammering, delayed speech and language, and related ailments.
The startup was founded by husband-wife duo of Prashant Goyal(33) and Soniya Gupta(30). The co-founders have complementary skills, with Prashant having worked at as a product developer of medical devices, semiconductors and consumer electronics at companies like Samsung, Freescale and Stryke over the past 10 years. Soniya, on the other hand, is a medical professional, who has treated more than 500 patients in the past seven years, in her role as an audiologist and speech therapist.
Founded in October 2012, Innoflaps currently consists of an experienced team of 10, consisting of speech and language pathologists (SLPs) and engineers who have several years of clinical experience in speech therapy. They have developed multiple home-based speech devices to help patients speed up their oral therapy process.
The idea for such a venture came to Prashant and Soniya when they realised that it was not always feasible for patients to visit doctors on a regular basis in large cities because of traffic and other constraints. On the other hand, smaller cities and towns lacked good doctors or facilities. Therapy of any form needs regular sessions for it to be effective and long lasting. So they decided to develop cost-effective products that patients could use from the comfort of their homes. Prashant said,
We stand at a point where clinical experiences meet technology, which is to say that we are researchers in the field of speech complexities and manufacturer of speech products.
Innoflaps currently has three main products and they have received accolades and awards from the Department of Science and Technology (Government of India) and FICCI, Stanford University, University of Texas, USA and they were also the winners of IIGP2015 (India Innovation Growth Program).
The three products
Innoflaps' products are easy to use, affordable and portable, as they are battery operated. Their products are also applicable for diverse age groups, ranging from nine to 65 years.
Speechifi (Digital Speech Therapy) is an assistive communication device that assists and prepare parents, educators and therapists to perform effective speech therapy for either one-on-one sessions or for groups upto 12. It can be used to treat ailments such as autism, hearing impairments and learning disabilities. Prashant explains that the working of Speechifi hinges upon the three-modality principle, namely auditory, visual and tactile principle. He says,
"Speechifi stores and deliver high-quality sound with full acoustic energy, which allows a person to listen effectively and differentiate between two distinct sounds. The functionality of light system enhances attention and eye contact. The device operates to use original voice in speech stimulation, which in turn works towards speedier recovery.”
TinnitusRelief works on the principle of ‘habituation training’ of subconscious brain. With the help of different calibrated customised sounds, users becomes habituated to them and gradually the internal sounds disappear on regular use and therapy.
With 22 different calibrated customised sounds for brain training, TinnitusRelief provides relief to patients suffering from tinnitus, a condition where buzzing, ringing or hissing sounds are perceived, when there actually is no external sound.
SpeakFluent (Anti- Stammering Device) is a self-assistive device which works on the auditory processing area of the brain. It helps in rejuvenating muscles and motor neurons of the brain, thus improving language processing. It works on the delay auditory feedback system and imparts the reflection of speech in terms of rate of speech, loudness and pitch, which are the essential attributes of enhanced confidence and fluency of speech. The product is aimed at alleviating ailments like stammering and puberphonia.
Revenue model and future plans
Prashant notes that they have so far implemented their devices in over 50 clinics and hospitals, with about 4,000 children and adults having benefited from their products. Innoflaps has filed for a few patents based on their technology and going forward aim to sell their products through clinics and hospitals by tying up with doctors and other medical professionals. The startup is currently selling SpeakFluent for Rs 20,000, Speechifi for Rs 25,000 and are finalising the price for TinnitusRelief.
While the startup was initially bootstrapped, it raised a seed round of Rs 40 lakh from Varun Kumar, co-founder of Imax programme and Yogesh Andlay, who was also mentoring them initially.Going forward Innoflaps aims to create a learning management system (LMS) to standardise its offerings and also provide a framework for custom offerings based on specific needs.
The company's goal for 2016 is to also build a strong distributor network to sell 2,000 devices. Innoflaps is also looking to raise a Series-A round of funding to expand its scale and reach out to foreign markets like the Middle East, where there is a need for such products.