Five years ago Voicemod was preparing to close. Some of its mobile applications, focused on real-time voice modification, had hundreds of thousands of users, but did not generate enough revenue. Months before, an exclusive service agreement for Yahoo seemed to solve the problem: in December the cash would run out and, after passing through accelerators such as Wayra or Demium, after several rounds of investment, the startup Valencian would stay in mute. The technology giant bought AOL, their teams began to merge and that lifeline collapsed: “we went on vacation knowing that either in September we would come up with something, or our adventure would end up being a story to tell at some point networking”. This is how Jaime Bosch (39 years old) remembers it for EL PAÍS, the youngest of the three brothers (Fer, 47; Juan, 44) who in 2009 merged their two passions, music and computing. Theirs is a story of rock, code and innovation, “because what our developments are used for today was unimaginable when we went to ask for our first loan. If the company’s focus hadn’t been on innovation, we would have closed any of the five times we came close to doing so.”
This August, the Bosch brothers go on vacation with very different feelings from that month of 2017 (and an active rock group, Bosque). Voicemod is a benchmark in the creation of a vocal identity in video games on-line and the future that reaches us: the metaverse. “We noticed something that we were not giving enough importance to: people were using the voices from the PC.” At the end of the 90s, the elders of this trio created a company dedicated to custom technological development. After many years of websites and other less fun solutions, obtaining an iPhone 3GS made them sense that mobile software would have a relevant weight in the next decade. “We had been obsessed with the storesgoing up apps, and just before it disappeared we realized that the direct traffic to our website was atypical. What if all that innovation, those technologies that we had focused on modifying voices in mobile games and calls had a more productive use in online interactions, in video games or networks?
Voicemod is today a standard in creating calls skins audio; a sound identity that works in real time, like an Instagram filter, but with the voice. Users can create their own or use -the most common- pre-established ones and change them according to the situations and dynamics of a game. Thus, live, they can scare someone with the gravity of an ogre, pretend to be an old man, a confused teenager, a Smurf, a squirrel or tune all their words (unlimited autotune). “The social turn of video games, the massive appearance of squads (groups of players fulfilling missions in a gang, intercommunicating through voice all the time) and, finally, the explosion of the stream They made us grow exponentially.” As planned, the cash ran out at the end of 2017 and the founders fired themselves and their other four employees: “we left the launched business model, with the company reduced to an intuition. And not only did it exceed the number of users needed in the first month, but the conversion rate (those who pay to have access to all possible voices and mods) went from a hypothetical 1% to 4%. In the spring we had already rehired the team.” Today they continue to work with them, among the company’s more than 150 employees.
Half of its business (11 million euros of turnover in 2021) is in the United States. In addition, other Anglo-Saxon countries are the ones that complete the largest share of their market: Great Britain, Canada, Australia… For this reason, in 2020 they began to work in English as their first language, although their headquarters remain in Valencia and they have employees in several countries and a model of total telework. Currently, Fer and Juan are in charge of the innovation area, where they say, “the main influence continues to be a department dedicated to listening to user suggestions. Our improvements and successes have always come from not imagining the product, but from responding to the real needs of our customers”. Jaime is still dressed in the manager’s suit (albeit with a t-shirt and jeans): “in these years of expansion, the challenge has been to avoid the impostor syndrome and, while attracting the best talent in the world, reposition yourself in your own company and accept humility your role”. Music continues to help all this, as in the beginning, because, while they are preparing to be a player more in the revolution of artificial voices, it is easy to find them with a guitar in hand, as if they were still playing in the family home with their other seven brothers, where computers and rock already occupied a good part of their dreams.
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