Linguoo (Uruguay) Linguoo is an Intelligent and Personalized Radio. Listen to the best articles from the web while walking, running or commuting. The articles you love, the latest hits, and new discoveries just for you. Hit play to stream news, articles or anything you like.

Next Step Challenge Spotligt Q&A with Linguoo:

Describe your startup and product as if you were describing it to a non-tech person on the street.
Linguoo is a platform to listen the best articles from the web, narrated by a global community. We like to say that we are the Spotify for Online Articles. With Linguoo you can listen a news playlist for your morning commute or a commute playlist for the weekends. We narrate articles from the best media outlets such as LeMondeDiplomatique, Forbes, TheWallStreetJournal but also from many greats blogs from the web.

Describe how you got the idea to start your business.
My mother started to lose her eyesight two years ago in due a degenerative disease (maculopathy) and she couldn’t read the web anymore, so in that moment I looked for apps to listen the web, but we’ve found that all of them used text-to-speech and it was an awful experience to listen articles, because they use robotic voices and for her it was depressing. One day while I was walking in the city I found a library in which there were people narrating books for visually disabled people. And when I asked them why they did it, they said to me “because we care”, and that was the seed of our project.

The next day I spoke with my co-founder because I had this crazy idea that if there were people that wanted to read books for the visually disabled for free, maybe we could create a global community of volunteers to narrate the web and using technology and applications we could create a Wikipedia made of audios, where the visually impaired could listen the best articles of the web, but powered by real people.

So we begin, and in 4 months we developed two ugly apps and we published on Google Play and Apple Store and in a month we got almost 500 downloads, and the next month there were 1,000 and there were so ugly apps… And we came to the conclusion that we have found something that was improving the experience of the visually impaired people that has to deal with this kind of technology every day. But also we were so surprised when we found that most of our users were people that can see with a normal vision but also wanted to listen specific information with real voices while they were driving, running or commuting every day.

So that was the beginning of Linguoo. Today, we are creating a Smart and Inclusive Radio, a Google-made-of-audios, a Spotify for Information on demand and we’ve got the support of IBM, Facebook, the MIT and Google, and this last week we got also the support of the UNESCO, because our community is getting bigger.  So, we don’t know what it will happen, but if you want to be part of the next generation radio, join us!

How does your product/service works?
We are a global community of narrators and developers in 92 countries in a global project to fight for more inclusive apps to access to the contents of the web in a more humanized way than with text-to-speech. Linguoo is a Multilanguage platform and we work in a decentralized mode in which every narrator or voice actor records articles from all over the world and uploads the audios to our platform. Then the articles are available on the smartphones through Linguoo apps. Like in Wikipedia the community curates our articles.

Why did you apply for the Next Step Challenge program?
Because we were scaling globally and we wanted to entered to the European market, making partnerships with telecommunication companies (like we did in LATAM), but also we wanted to validate our hypothesis regarding contents and in new markets such as Asia and Europe.

And when we found the Next Step Challenge program, we thought “this was what we were looking for”. It was related to sound startups, streaming, IoT, but also it was in a great country of Europe.

So we apply without so much hope, because we were this “Latino startup” growing globally but we were afraid that we couldn’t fit for the program. This was for the elite. But then we begin to make interviews with the staff of Next Step Challenge, and we passed one selection, and then the other and one day while I was speaking with our Business Accelerator, he told me “you were chosen, so, let’s begin to pack’. And the world stopped for a second, and we were so happy but also so scared, because my new born had in that moment 3 months old. And it was a new country, with a new culture and everything. But then my wife, supported me, also my co-founder and then we came to Denmark. And the rest is only hard work.

Recent big news?
We got awarded as one of the best 5 projects of the world by the UNESCO and the ONU (among other 404 from all over the world) for promoting and fostering the information society development.

Also we will be working with the International Union of Telecommunications from now on, to make more efficient partnerships with telecommunications companies, from all over the world.

Who is the founder(s) of your team?
Emanuel Vilte and Ricardo León. We were friends since we worked together at HP and also we tried to make another startup before. We failed, but we also learned a lot, so maybe that’s the reason we still fight every day to success, because in the long run we think that it’s a matter of trying and to keep learning.

Current number of employees.
7 employees and a community of 50 professional voice actors from countries such as USA, Uruguay, Arabia Saudi, Argentine, Spain and hopefully soon Denmark.

6 Linguoo

Which countries are you from?
We came from Argentina but also our developers and CTO are from Uruguay in South America. So we could say we are from brother countries.

Year Founded:
2015 in Uruguay


Social Media:
TW: @linguooapp

Relevant press clippings?
El Pais, Radio reaches future demand and is personalized and invisible
MIT Technology Review: Emanuel Vilte, innovators under 35

Linguoo Fun fact:
In Argentine and Uruguay, we usually drink an infusion called “mate”, it’s like a tea and everybody drinks that kind of tea all day. It’s a coffee kind of, for southamerican people, but also it’s a social moment in which we share the mate with friends. But, you have to drink mate with a metal straw  and when we arrived to Denmark we were drinking mate with my wife and we were with my baby in a park,  and there were this Danish couple so angry,  that were looking us with bad faces and whispering about us, and when we asked about the reason they yelled, “you can’t take drugs in public spaces!!!”. They thought we were taking drugs or something with that metal straw!!!!

And it was our national beverage!
Next time we will drink mate at home.

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