10 minutes with Kat Giudes and Ray Guy

This week on 10 minutes with TalkVia we chat with TalkVia Founder Ray Guy and MD Kat Giudes about the direction and future plans for the company.


P: Hi and welcome to 10 minutes with TalkVia
the podcast where we chat to our favorite TalkVia clients and users about their conversational AI projects.

I’m Paige Harkness from TalkVia.

Today we have a special episode because I’ve managed to secure 10 minutes with TalkVia’s founder as well as our managing director to hear a bit more about their vision and plans for the growth of the company.

Our founder Ray Guy has over 20 years as a senior manager of tech teams and is no stranger to successful startups. In fact he almost retired off the back of a successful exit, but ended up coming out of semi-retirement after using voice technology to help a blind friend successfully run his business from his computer at home. This passion project eventually led to the launch of TalkVia. He has 20 plus years experience as a senior tech leader and having successfully exited one of his startups
Hi Ray, thanks for taking the time to have a chat!

R: No worries, thanks for having me

P: The origin story of TalkVia is such a great example of technology being used for the power of good. I love it

We also have in the studio Kat Guides who has recently stepped into the role of managing director here at TalkVia from her previous non-executive role on the board of directors. Kat has been working on a successful green datacentre company called macroDATA Datacentres and brings a wealth of experience growing software products following her 13 plus years at Microsoft where she drove high level initiatives as a senior director.
Kat thank you as well for taking the time to join us.

K: It’s a pleasure

P: Voice technology is really gaining traction in the market as an interface and is set to disrupt the way we’ve traditionally done things using touching and typing. You both have a wealth of experience in software development and implementation and you’ve seen things change and evolve over the years. Ray, what is it that excites you most about where you see voice technology going?

R: I see voice as a solution to seriously reducing screen time and increasing productivity. As you touched on in your intro, I founded TalkVia as a way to get things done without needing to look at a screen or keyboard. This is the ultimate opportunity for voice technology - but something we’re only just beginning to see take hold. Over the past 5 years or so we’ve seen voice go from being something quite futuristic to being a minimum expectation in new cars for example. We’ve seen the use and functionality of chatbots absolutely explode, including the new hybrid text and speech chatbots, it’s driven by conversation which is the foundation of voice technology. So if you’d asked me this same question in the early days of TalkVia I would’ve said smart speakers and conversational commerce were the future, but we’re now seeing the tech applied in a far broader sense, smart speakers have simply acted as a gateway.

P: I totally agree! We still use our smart speakers everyday, but I also use voice tech much more regularly in the car and on my phone than I did before. The data from the recent smart audio report by Edison Research also backs this up, so we can take stock in the fact we are not alone!

Kat, you spent over 13 years at Microsoft at times in meetings with Bill Gates himself you were pivotal in the launch of XBox marketplace among other high profile initiative so you know exactly what success looks like. What is it about TalkVia that drew your attention?

K: When I initially heard Ray speaking about the origin of TalkVia I immediately thought of the kerb ramp, or as we say kerb cutout. In the States this began as a pilot in Michigan to help retired vets with disabilities, but the benefits were so far reaching that they were eventually mandated. Voice strikes me as another of these technologies that goes beyond traditional accessibility. Just as we saw with the kerb cutout voice has more far reaching benefits such as assisting parents with busy hands, drivers with busy eyes or even doctors and others needing to keep their hands clean and sterile - just to call on a few examples. So the work being done here at TalkVia has the potential to reshape the way we use computers and technology or interact with brands and content online.

P: Absolutely. So looking at the future of TalkVia, what’s the grand plan? Ray I’ll start with you, on the technology front where are we headed?

Speech technology now operates through so many more channels now. What has always set the TalkVia solution apart is our ability to build a single project and have it available on multiple smart assistants. We are pushing this even further.
Amazon revolutionized online shopping by introducing the one-click purchase. We are revolutionizing voice development by introducing one-click deployment across your platforms of choice, be that Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, your website chatbot, messenger platforms, your smart IVR and your iPhone and Android apps. Or as our tag line says: build once, deploy everywhere.
And then there is our pre-templated content. Very few people start building graphic design content from scratch anymore. Both professionals and design-challenged people like myself, use tools like Canva where we can select from a bunch of premade templates and produce incredible results.
In the same way, we are continuing to build out our library of fully customizable templates, created by professional voice interface designers, which can then be tailored to meet individual needs.
So whether you’re a standalone social media influencer wanting to interact with your fans, or large team inside a media agency wanting to pull together a voice-based competition for a client, people can create amazing voice experiences quickly and easily.
TalkVia is more than a voice development platform - it is an ecosystem where the business owners, conversation designers, developers and the quality assurance team can come together to collaborate. Our aim is to make projects more transparent to all stakeholders, making it easier to maintain control of project with regards to costs and overall business value.
We currently have powerful analytics that let you track how your voice application is performing. We intend to build this out so you can better track customer lifetime value, the return on investment of individual marketing campaigns and overall profitability.
There is a bunch of other stuff on our roadmap, such as fully interactive media, as well as building out a community engagement platform where we can all hang out and exchange advice on how to succeed in this madhouse that is the world of voice.

It sounds so exciting! So Kat, I guess the big question for you is how are we going to get there?

K: Our key commercial partners are in active conversations with us about how we can further embed our tech into their ecosystems and service offerings, which not only gives us cashflow security but also ensures TalkVia is set for long term success.

TalkVia is also about to kick off on its next round of growth, both to launch our self-service interactive voice platform into new markets, to support and grow our existing tech team and to strengthen and expand on our key commercial relationships which include the likes of SCA, one of the largest media companies in Australia.

We're launching our Series A funding round to help cement our position as the premiere interactive voice company in Australia and to take our tech to the rest of the world.

We'll use the Series A funds to build out our tech team to be able to service new markets, promote our platform in Australia and launch it internationally, to recruit new members to our tech and sales teams, both here and overseas.

P: I’m so excited about the future! The team here are so passionate about voice and the work we do, I can only imagine how far we will go! That’s nearly our ten minutes, before we go, are there any projects we have recently launched you’d like to showcase?

R: The Walking Dead was a huge project for us, we worked in partnership with Xandra, Breeder, and JM to launch the official voice first game for the Walking Dead and AMC studios funded by Google themselves. The sound design and script put together by Breeder was world class so here’s a snippet of that

Audio file

P: Gives me shivers. That really was a behemoth of a project to be involved in but the finished product is so immersive! Not for the faint of heart.
If anyone would like to play just say “Hey Google, Play The Walking Dead Pathways”

And if anyone is interested to learn more about series A what should they do Kat?

K: You can find me on Linkedin, Kathryn Giudes that’s K A T H R Y N, G U I D E S . Just reach out and I’ll be happy to set up a time to chat.

Well thank you both again for joining us here today, leaving the lovely Sunshine Coast to join us in the studio!

K: Pleasure
R: Thanks for having us

This episode featured content and audio from Andrew fritsh SCA and Folklore, Voice Over Recording by California Music | Narrator: Courtney Williams, Lien: Lauren Gaw, Tyler: Kyle Gold, Tamika: Teisha Wheaton, Eugene: Cody Tesnow

I’m Paige harkness and thanks for listening to 10 minutes with TalkVia. You can find more episodes on our website talkvia.com or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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