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Chch voicemail-to-text startup eyes global market

11 Feb 2020

Vxt, a company founded by two University of Canterbury students in November 2018 is seeking $400,000 to expand overseas.

Vxt uses speech recognition trained on Kiwi accents to convert voicemails to text for users to read in the app, or via email. 

They are also developing tools which use artificial intelligence to automate bookings and event scheduling.

One of a growing number of subscription service startups, their paid service starts at $5.99 per month.

Co-founded by twenty-somethings Luke Campbell and Lucy Turner, the Christchurch-based startup already boasts more than 2500 active users and around 200 subscribers.

The duo started the business as a part of the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship Summer Startup Programme where students receive scholarships to work on business ideas full-time over the summer.

Campbell came up with the idea for Vxt after his own frustration with receiving voicemail.

“Calling voicemail, checking the messages, trying to write down the name and phone number to call back on – the whole process is so painfully slow and inefficient,” he says.

“I figured if I had the problem just receiving a few voicemails, people who receive hundreds every month would be at their wits end! Converting voicemail messages to text seemed like a really obvious solution and one which we can add all sorts of other useful features to., he says.”

Campbell convinced Turner, a computer science graduate, to join him given her technical background and their previous history working together on successful projects.

With about 2 million voicemails left every day in New Zealand, Campbell says the business has tapped into a big opportunity.

The intelligent virtual assistant market is projected to grow from about 3 billion today to 30 billion dollars by 2025 Campbell says.

Since the company was founded they have raised more than $100,000, received backing from Google for up to $150,000 of their costs and, more recently, were one of five companies selected to participate in the Vodafone xone Partner Series in association with BNZ.

The company of six plans to use these new funds to grow as fast as possible by launching their business in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada by November this year.

Campbell said in the long term their goal is to reach hundreds of thousands of users around the world and sell the business.

Timeline for Vxt:

  • Work on Vxt started in November 2018 as part of the University of Canterbury's Summer Start-up Programme
  • Work on the business continued on a part-time basis during 2019 while Luke & Lucy were full-time students.
  • In early 2019 Vxt was accepted into the Google Cloud Platform for Startups where up to $150,000 NZD of their costs are covered.
  • In late June Vxt raised a modest amount of cash to hire 3 additional students and "cracked into development".
  • After just six weeks of development, the team of five launched the first version of their app.
  • In October, Vxt was announced as a Grand Winner of the Annual $85K Startup Challenge run by Entre at the University of Canterbury.
  • In December, Vxt was accepted into the Vodafone xone Accelerator for 2020.
  • Vxt is currently accepting expressions of interest to participate in their seed fundraising round.