My Startup: Say it Now
Say It Now specialises in understanding natural language so that computers can talk to people in the same way that people have conversations with each other.
This helps brands and consumers benefit from automated communications, something becoming increasingly prevalent as more people have smart speakers in their homes and are becoming comfortable using them.
Launched in 2018, the company provides consulting and software development services to produce voice assistants on smart speakers (Amazon Alexa and Google Home) and chatbots on messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and SMS.
The company won the UK and European rounds of Amazon’s Alexa Cup competition, achieving the bronze medal in the final held at the end of July 2019.
Founders: Charlie Cadbury and Sander Siezen
We spoke to Charlie Cadbury, CEO, to find out more...
Why did you start Say it Now?
As far back as 2015, based on our extensive knowledge of enterprise mobile app delivery, Sander and I came to the realisation that ever more apps on our phones were not the future. At this point we both started to focus on Natural Language Processing (NLP), the subset of artificial intelligence that powers chat and voice bots.
This brings together two strands of daily life today; people tend to spend 50% of their 'app time' in messenger apps and smart speakers are the fastest adopted consumer good ever.
After meeting a conversational platform startup, we soon found the opportunity to set up a business to take our experience to market. Combining my agency history and Sander’s extensive enterprise product experience, we were able to get Say It Now up and running quickly and land our first client, Diageo.
Tell us more about the software?
Very simply, we are a software business that specialises in understanding natural language so that computers can talk to people in the same way that people have conversations with each other. We are different from other offerings because we take an enterprise software product approach, looking for long-term partnerships, rather than projects (that can potentially become costly gimmicks, launched to follow a trend, rather than because they are good business).
These partnerships can be in the shape of joint venture revenue share models or wholly-owned products. We have won several awards in the chatbot and voice space over the last four years, with these specifically noting our ability to articulate the direction of travel for this industry and ability to build over and above it.
Where’s the business at right now?
Nine months after incorporation, we have a long-standing and deepening relationship with Diageo, supporting the drinks giant in its industry-leading voice strategy as it continues to find innovative ways to build closer relationships with its customers as well as reach new audiences.
We recently won the UK and European rounds of the inaugural ‘Alexa Cup’, a global challenge from Amazon to find the ‘killer voice app’ and are really excited to have beaten off stiff competition to take third place in the World Cup Final of Alexa at the end of July.
Amazon is also deepening its relationship with us, we've attracted some strategic investment and have a very healthy pipeline of work; we're feeling pretty bullish!
What are your aims for the next year?
Voice is a new and exciting industry, offering the potential to roll out practical applications across a range of sectors. However, over the next 12 months, our aim is to concentrate our focus on five to 10 products that can deliver a 10x return on investment over the following 36 months.
What’s been the hardest thing about getting Say it Now off the ground?
As ever, it's resource, people and cashflow. In my experience, those factors will be with us all the way up. While the youth of the voice technology industry exacerbates these challenges, there is a lot of support in the voice scene; resources like Vux World, Voice2 and Tom Ollerton’s ‘I’ll Be Back’ events have really helped me network with the partners we need.
Why should more people be using or investing in Say it Now?
Talking to digital systems in the way that we speak to other humans is obviously the future - see any sci-fi! Companies like us will bring it to the masses sooner and faster.
How much will it cost customers? and why is it worth it?
Chatbots start at £10k, voice experiences at £20k.
In terms of value and returns, Adobe said this year: "Brands see incredible potential [in voice], with 66% of brands strongly agreeing that voice can help drive conversion and increase revenue; 71% see it improving the user experience.”
Is it worth it? Your company may not be adopting voice technology, but your competitors are. Remember Blockbuster?