October 18, 2018

Israeli tech firm wins top $1.5M prize at 2018 VentureClash

Matt Pilon
Matt Pilon
Connecticut Innovations CEO Matthew McCooe congratulated VentureClash first place winners Danny Weissberg and Sara Smolley of Israeli speech recognition firm Voiceitt.

An Israeli developer of speech recognition technology took home the top $1.5 million prize Thursday at Connecticut Innovations' third annual VentureClash.

Voiceitt, which was founded in 2012 and previously raised a total of $6 million, according to Crunchbase, is now set to negotiate terms of an equity investment from the quasi-public CI, which is Connecticut's venture capital arm.

The company's technology aims to help those with trouble speaking, such as stroke victims, communicate with other humans as well as with devices like smart speakers, according to CEO Danny Weissberg and vice president of strategy Sara A. Smolley, who are both co-founders of the 16-employee company, headquartered in a country of 8.7 million people.

"Any Israeli company understands that Israel is not the market, Israel is too small," Weissberg said in an interview after his company's win Thursday. "We definitely want to grow."

The other winners in the $5 million competition included:

  • DOZR, a Canada-based marketplace for heavy-equipment rentals, won $1 million;
  • IronYun, a Stamford-based provider of video search software, won $1 million;
  • Paygilant, an Israeli company that helps prevent mobile payment fraud, won $500,000, after winning an early entry into the competition;
  • Invixium, a Canada-based provider of biometric products that help with user authentication and other tasks, won $500,000;
  • CloudKPI, an Irish analytics company, won $500,000.

In addition, CI and its event sponsors announced several special prizes on Thursday.

  • Aureus Analytics, which provides a customer-experience measurement product hosted on an artificial intelligence platform, was the "early winner" and is expected to close an investment deal with CI in the next few months;
  • DOZR won a $25,000 innovation grant from Stanley Black & Decker;
  • Connecticut's RozieAI, an artificial-intelligence messaging and data analytics platform, won a $25,000 grant from Travelers.
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