Chris Maley was frustrated with transit. It was difficult to catch the bus sometimes with his sight loss. How could he make getting around easier?
He has always been passionate about voice technology, so he decided to create his own voice project.
Chris is the founder and chief technology officer of the startup Speebly, which he launched in late 2017 along with C.E.O. Eric Sauvé. Speebly is a voice assistant program that can be used across multiple platforms. The same assistant is available on your cell phone, landline, speakers, and the web.
Two of the most popular voice assistants are Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Now, Speebly can be used with them. Chris and Eric plan to launch a web client version too.
There are many possibilities for the technology, especially in large companies. Chris and Eric want to increase the number of users. They say that Speebly is unique because of the web client version and the fact that they can reuse the technology across many channels.
In the summer of 2018, Hydro Ottawa did a case study with Speebly. They used it to give important information to customers via their Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices when they link it to their hydro account. Instead of logging on to their account, they can simply use Speebly. Customers can ask questions like, "When is my bill due?" and "What is the current electricity price?" and it will tell them. According to Eric, Speebly served about 325,000 phones through Hydro Ottawa.
Chris says it's a challenge at first to find potential buyers, but it doesn't happen by sitting there and wishing. For him, a healthy combination of realism and optimism is what makes an entrepreneur. His advice is to take it slowly and avoid skipping any steps in your plan.
Chris doesn't feel like he's faced many barriers while launching the startup. "If you're looking to become an entrepreneur, don’t let your vision stop you," he says. "People with disabilities have an advantage because they overcome challenges every day. That type of attitude helps you to become successful."