Synthetic voice startup Lovo has closed a $4.5 million pre-Series A funding round led by Kakao Entertainment, as first reported by TechCrunch. Lovo offers a platform for those looking to find or create AI-generated speech based on real people’s voices, which the company refers to as voice skins. The new funding gives the startup a boost as tools for synthetic speech proliferate at an accelerating rate.
Lovo caters to the rising number of businesses and other organizations that are seeking ways to use voice AI for purposes ranging from marketing videos to customer service. Customized AI voices that can read out any script also work as branding tools that they can use to stand out in their industries. The company counts educational institutes, business executives, call centers, and entertainment producers among its clients.
The South Korea-based Kakao Entertainment was joined by its affiliate Kakao Investment, and LG Group subsidiary LG CNS as new investors in Lovo, according to the filings, along with a couple of the startup’s previous investors. The new funding round is a big step up from the $350,000 seed round the two-year-old company closed early in 2020, ahead of the platform’s initial release. Since then, Lovo’s platform has garnered several million recordings and tens of thousands of users globally. The startup plans to scale the company and upgrade its technology with its new cash infusion. The company has been posting openings for new employees in research and business development to speed Lovo’s expansion from its relatively small current team.
Lovo’s funding is part of a wave of interest and investment in the synthetic voice industry. Companies like Veritone and ReadSpeaker have been rolling out new products and picking up big-name clients for their own spin on the technology. Others are collecting big investment checks this year, like the $3.6 million raised by Supertone and the $10 million Wellsaid brought nabbed. To keep ahead, Lovo has come up with a kind of democratization of voice AI performances. In June, Lovo made it easier for would-be AI voice artists to set up and earn money from synthetic versions of their speech with the AI Voice Marketplace. The platform allows performers to record audio that can be processed by Lovo’s AI and made available for licensing by clients. The revenue is split evenly between Lovo and the performer. Those interested who get approved simply read out text provided by Lovo, which can then be turned into an algorithm for interested clients to test out and potentially pay to use. The performer’s job is over after the initial recording, but the profit could potentially roll in for a long time if a client likes it enough to use it frequently or make it the voice of a particular brand.
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