Here’s an exclusive look at the pitch deck Sanas used to raise $32 million from investors like Google Ventures and Insight Partners to build its real-time accent translation software
This story is available exclusively to Business Insider subscribers. Become an Insider and start reading now.
- Sanas is a speech technology company that can translate accents in real time.
- It was founded by three Stanford student engineers who saw the problems of accent bias firsthand.
- Now, they’ve raised $32 million from Insight Partners and Google Ventures.
Sanas is a new real-time accent translation startup that can convert people’s voices into different accents while speaking.
The three founders came up with the idea for Sanas during their undergraduate studies at Stanford, when their close friend Raul had to drop out and work in a call center to support his family in Nicaragua.
While he had the most formal education, Raul was underperforming at his job because he spoke with a thick Central American accent.
Raul’s problem hit home for the three friends, said Sanas CEO and cofounder Maxim Serebryakov, because they were all immigrants too: Serebryakov is from Russia, while Sanas’s CTO Shawn Zhang is from China and CFO Andrés Soderi is from Venezuela. All three felt that they had experienced some academic and career setbacks because of their accents, Serebryakov told Insider.
“We wanted to build a product that allows people to have power over their voice and choose the way they communicate,” he said. “Our central model is, ‘your voice your choice. ‘”
The three spent years building an algorithm that could convert accents by modifying the underlying phonetics in the vocal sound, so it could translate voices in near real-time. The product then works as a virtual microphone plug in for phone and computer audio, so users can take calls or Zoom meetings while Sanas runs in the background and their voice comes through the call without a noticeable accent.
Sanas’ tech attracted investors at Insight Partners and Google Ventures, especially those who were immigrants themselves, said Serebryakov. “They get the value proposition,” he said.
Insight Partners ended up leading Sanas’ $32 million Series A round, with participation from Google Ventures, Assurant Ventures and angel investor Gokul Rajaram. Existing investors Human Capital, General Catalyst, Quiet Capital and DN Capital also participated in the round.
While Sanas is primarily used in call centers today, the team plans to use the new capital to expand into all forms of enterprise communication, including text to speech for transcriptions.
“If you use Sanas as a front end in speech to text engines, you actually get 20.5% better transcription accuracy,” Serebryakov noted.