#OliveSavvy: Take Back Your Speech - NiNiSpeech

#OliveSavvy is all about starting a conversation about tech innovation, fellow startups, and entrepreneurship. Check in every Wednesday to see what we’ll cover next!

For this week’s #OliveSavvy post, we want to highlight fellow Publicis90 winner NiNiSpeech! Started by Yair Shapira, NiNiSpeech is a unique and interactive mobile feedback app that allows people who stutter to track and maintain their speech progress. Nearly 3 million people stutter in the United States, and 75% say it affects their family and social life. According to the NiNiSpeech website, a whopping 84% of people who stutter will lapse back after treatment.

“My 18 year old son stutters,” Shapira said. “We've sent him to various therapies, in which he did great. Yet, time and time again he experienced relapse. I decided to combine my Ph.D and academic skills in speech analysis and my successful entrepreneurship experience to help my son and other people who suffer from speech disorders.”

Thus, NiNiSpeech recognizes a very important and much forgotten part of assistive technology. Improving ability is something to be applauded, but maintaining that improvement is a real feat of its own. And isn’t that what really matters? The real value lies in creating and developing something that is truly for the long term. 

Now, let’s dive into the many features of the NiNiSpeech app. I’ll start with my absolute favorite part: NiNi-buddies. Believe it or not, NiNiSpeech is in many ways a social app! As the site says, “NiNiSpeech offers people who stutter a safe platform to engage in speech activities, build confidence and experience spontaneous interaction with speech partners who share ambition, sensitivity and mutual commitment to make progress.” Basically, when you want to use the app, you can log on to find one of your NiNi-buddies, so you can crush all your speech games and activities together.  It provides both a sense of fun and challenge to what could easily become tedious practice.

Shapira has created a great opportunity for people to connect through the power of speech education. The cherry on top? NiNiSpeech occasionally has celebrity guest peers. “Are you up to the challenge?” the site asks. “Speaking with a famous actor, sportsman, politician, rock-star or super-model?” That’s a hard opportunity to pass up, especially when the experience is so fun. While receiving valuable feedback about your speech, rate, naturalness, and fluency, you can take part in speech controlled games that involve blowing bubbles, telling jokes, and even playing trivia.

“Many parents to children who stutter tell us that the secret of NiNiSpeech is in handing responsibility over to their child,” Shapira said. “He now has the means to manage his speech, without his parents and therapist nudging him, in his own room, in an entertaining way, while being measured and viewing progress.”

NiNiSpeech has not only won top awards at Publicis90, but also was awarded second place at Europe’s eHealth competition, and was chosen to attend the 2016 Shanghai Global Innovations Awards 2016 in Beijing. This is no coincidence. While I’ve touched on the many shiny and worthwhile features of the app, there is a concrete reason NiNiSpeech has received so much praise. The science behind the speech education is thorough and extremely helpful. Upon completion of an activity, you can track your progress through automated, quantitative granular speech elements. Some of the many measurements include speech efficiency, syllables, and speech time. Apps are known to be addicting, and in this case that is a wonderful thing, because as we all know, practice makes perfect. NiNiSpeech has found a way to make speech therapy similar to an entertaining, challenging app you’d find at the top of the App Store charts. It’s the safe comfort of having your speech therapist on hand at all times and the joy of knowing that your speech therapist is also really fun.

I’ll sign off with the Shapira’s excellent advice to young entrepreneurs and startups.

“Do it with passion or don't do it at all, as you need enormous reservoirs of energy to overcome the endless hurdles along the way.
Find creative ways to shrink the gap between the fantasy you aim for, and the reality you ive in, and be self-critical about it.
There hardly are right and wrong ideas. It's mostly down to execution and endurance.”

Yours Truly,

Molly Oretsky 

Molly Oretsky