Startup story

South Korean startup Deeply uses artificial intelligence to interpret everyday sounds

How support from Campus Seoul helped two founders scale and pivot their business

The above video was filmed in 2019.

South Korean founders Han Park and Suji Lee believe that all sounds contain meaning and can drive us to action. “We spoke to many parents with hearing disabilities and we wondered: can we do something useful to help these parents take care of and understand their kids?” Han remembers. So the duo founded their startup Deeply in 2017 with a goal of giving meaning and context to nonverbal sound. Using the power of voice analysis artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Deeply identifies patterns in sounds to help extract information and detect critical events. From factory machines that resonate at the wrong frequency when something is broken to baby monitors that notify customers of a distressed newborn’s cries, Deeply is revolutionizing the way we understand our noisy world.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Korea hard, the Deeply team were unable to continue working together in the office but did not have strong work-from-home resources. Development slowed to a halt and revenues dwindled. However, Deeply was accepted to the spring cohort of the (now fully-remote) Google For Startups Residency. As remote “residents” of Google for Startups Campus Seoul, Han and Suji connected with founders and innovators struggling with the same problems and shared best practices. They also received critical one-on-one mentorship from the Google team about how to smoothly and efficiently transition Deeply to collaborating even when they’re not together. Han says, “The Google for Startups Team hosted an online seminar for us with other startups that had successfully made the transition—it was extremely useful.”

Han and Suji’s team also received hands-on training with Google products to move forward during the pandemic. Deeply developers use Firebase to reduce development tasks for early-stage mobile services and help create new products faster to keep up with customer demands. They also adopted Google Analytics and BigQuery to make sense of customer data, identify new opportunities, and meet changing demand trends during these unprecedented times. “We believe that understanding customers is the most important thing for startups,” says Han. “Google Analytics provides necessary insight into user behavior through a variety of features, including A/B testing, retention analysis, and churn user analysis. We check the key numbers every day.”

Now, Han, Suji, and the Deeply team have been able to shift into overdrive despite the ongoing pandemic. They are developing a new API that will allow them to massively scale their business and expand into the valuable U.S. market. Han says, “The support from Google has caused us to think of the diverse global market and the ability to connect with Google users, opening doors for us. We're always thinking about what being global means and that has been the greatest support we've received.”

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