Yoodli, a startup building an artificial intelligence platform to help people communicate more effectively, announced that it has raised $6 million in a seed round co-led by Madrona Venture Group and Cercano Management (formerly Vulcan Capital). Other investors include J4 Ventures, Ascend, Jeff Richards from GGV Capital, Dave Rosenberg (founder of Mulesoft), and renowned communication experts Renn Vara and Maureen Taylor. Yoodli is already being used by thousands of professional speakers, coaches, students, and corporate professionals to get data-driven insights on their speaking presentations.
“Effective communication is the single determinant of success in the workplace and more broadly in life,” said Craig Valentine, Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking. “I’ve been working with clients for over 20 years, but Yoodli has completely transformed my coaching business. I’m now able to work with many more clients at once while saving up to 10 hours per week! I ask my clients to record their practice sessions on Yoodli, improve with AI feedback, and then share their speeches with me for asynchronous work. AI will not replace speech coaches but is certainly helping us be more efficient.”
Yoodli makes preparing for a speech or interview fun and judgment-free. The platform provides an instant transcript and real-time analysis on your use of filler words, non-inclusive language, pacing, body language, and much more. It also makes it easy to collaborate with friends and coaches on upcoming presentations. Want to test your ability to think on your feet or strike up a conversation with a stranger? Try the one minute ‘Spin a Yarn’ challenge, which throws out fun words to blend into a compelling impromptu speech.
The seed round brings Yoodli’s total funding to $7.1 million. The new funds will be used to support Yoodli’s product development, as well as sales and marketing expansion.
Patrick Ennis, who has decades of experience as a scientist, engineer, businessman, and venture capitalist at Madrona, ARCH Venture Partners, Intellectual Ventures, and Bell Labs, will be joining the Yoodli Board of Directors.
“We are delighted to support Yoodli’s journey,” Ennis said. “The fear of public speaking has affected humanity throughout history and across cultures. At Madrona, we see the massive impact that Yoodli will have by improving communication for everyone.”
Yoodli’s founders, Esha Joshi and Varun Puri, are deeply familiar with the fear of public speaking and teamed up to start Yoodli at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in June 2021. Yoodli’s team includes engineers and product managers from Facebook, Apple, Google, and an advisory board consisting of TEDx coaches, top AI researchers, among others. Yoodli uses natural language processing, computer vision, and speech algorithms to help users get detailed feedback on speeches recorded on the platform. The speeches are private to the user but shareable to friends, coaches, and others if external feedback is desired.
Becoming a good public speaker is no small task, and to prove that point Yoodli has analyzed the speeches of famous celebrities, tech execs, and politicians. Even some of the world’s most prominent figures are not perfect when it comes to speech delivery. Elon Musk, for example, might have a limited word count on Twitter, but he used over 70 filler and hedging words (“really,” “basically”, “actually”) in a 5-minute window during a 2014 commencement speech. Check it out at https://app.yoodli.ai/share/gfYhf3qU.
Yoodli allows you to record and playback your speech with filler words removed, and then provides simple, strategic and customized tips to help you refine and improve your public speaking skills.
The platform is free and can be accessed at www.yoodli.ai.
Yoodli is an AI-enabled communication skills improvement platform that records users as they deliver presentations, and then points out tips such as where they could speak more clearly, cutting back on "ums" and filler words, as well as improving their use of eye contact and gestures. Users can also solicit feedback from colleagues and get connected to an expert coach. The company was founded in 2021 and is based in Seattle, Washington.