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Yoodli founders Dr. Ehsan Hoque, Esha Joshi, and Varun Puri
Insights

Terrified of Public Speaking? Finally, There’s An App For That.


AUTHORS: Ishani Ummat and Matt McIlwain | October 7, 2021

We couldn’t be more excited to announce our investment in Yoodli. We met Varun and Esha a few months ago, but it feels as if we’ve known each other a lifetime. From our first meeting at the AI2 incubator, it was clear to us that this team is special. The energy they brought into the room was palpable – and the passion they have around Yoodli is authentic and inspiring. We’re thrilled to be a part of this journey.

Yoodli uses artificial intelligence to help people improve their public speaking skills. We all have our public speaking nightmare stories. We’ve practiced in front of mirrors, memorized line after line, rehearsed right up until it’s time. We stand up, take a deep breath and – our minds go blank. The playback is cringeworthy – too many ums, talking to the floor, the dreaded shuffle. The list goes on.

For many, these nightmare stories aren’t just funny tales to laugh off – they are moments of agony, missed opportunity, and failed recognition – all stemming from a struggle to communicate effectively. Of course, this is an age-old problem – and one that is only increasing in importance. And yet, public speaking is rarely taught effectively in a classroom setting, and almost never beyond the C-suite of a corporate environment. Studies show that the fear of public speaking affects more than 2 in 3 people.

Enter Yoodli. The Yoodli platform provides users real time feedback on a speech, without the pressure of an audience. Utilizing a combination of computer vision, speech recognition and deep natural language processing, Yoodli gives you feedback on verbal and nonverbal communication skills, can track your progress over time, enables you to solicit asynchronous feedback from colleagues, and can connect you directly to an expert coach.

Yoodli is the result of an amazing team coming together over personal experiences in public speaking. Varun, a former nationally ranked debater, teamed up with Esha while she was an Apple engineering lead and regular Toastmasters attendee. Together, they brought on Dr. Ehsan Hoque, the co-lead of the Rochester Human Computing Interaction group, who adds decades of academic experience to the problem space.

In addition to building a really exciting product, the Yoodli concept is capitalizing on broader trends we are excited about in the coaching and betterment space. Individuals are increasingly demanding self-serve options for upskilling and betterment. Rather than a full HR suite integration, they want to be able to use a lightweight (and often) web “app for that” – and in today’s remote team management world, soft communication skills have become an integral part of our daily jobs.

Varun, Esha and Dr. Hoque are taking on a tremendous opportunity to use artificial intelligence to improve social and cognitive skills. For us, this is a truly Day 1 investment into a team, product, and vision we are not only excited about, but also inspired by. Have an upcoming presentation you want to knock out of the park? Find out more and sign up for the early waitlist at Yoodli.ai. And, yes, they are hiring!!

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