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These Stanford alumni are building an app to change your accent

FYI: English is not an official language of the United States.

It meant nothing to them. He was fluent in English and Spanish, very friendly and an expert in systems engineering. Why couldn’t I get a call center job?

The friend said his accent made it difficult for many customers to understand him. Some even insulted his manner of speaking.

All three students realized that the problem was bigger than their friend’s experience. So they founded a startup to fix that.

Now his company Sanas is testing artificial intelligence-based software that aims to eliminate poor communication by changing people’s attention in real time. For example, a call center worker in the Philippines can usually speak into a microphone and sound like a customer on the other end from Kansas.

Call centers are just the beginning, the startup’s founders say. The company’s website touts its plans as “speech, reimagined.”

Finally, they are waiting for the request they are preparing. Will be used by different industries and people. They say it could help doctors understand patients better, or grandchildren better understand their grandparents.

“We have a big vision for Sanas,” says CEO Maxim Serebryakov.

And for Serebryakov and his co-founders, the project is personal.

“People’s voices are not so much heard as their accents.”

The trio that founded Sanas met at Stanford University, but all originally came from different countries: Serebryakov, now the CEO, is from Russia; Andres Perez Suderi, now the Chief Financial Officer, is from Venezuela. And Sean Zhang, now the director of technology, is from China.

He is no longer a Stanford student. Serebryakov and Perez have graduated. Zhang left to focus on reviving Sanas.

Perez says he launched the company last year and gave it a name that could be easily pronounced in several languages ​​”to highlight our global mission and bring people together.”

Over the years, the trio says they’ve experienced how accents can interfere.

“We all come from an international background. We have seen first-hand how people treat you differently because of the way you speak,” says Serebryakov. “Sometimes it’s heartbreaking.”

FYI: English is not an official language of the United States.

Zhang says her mother, who came to the U.S. from China 20 years ago, still makes her talk to the cashier when they go shopping together because she’s embarrassed.

“That’s one of the reasons I joined Max and Andrew in building this company, to try to help people who believe their voices aren’t being heard the way they do,” he said. say

Serebryakov says he’s noticed how his parents are treated in hotels when they visit them in America: how people make assumptions when they hear his accent.

“They speak a little louder. They change their behavior,” he says.

Perez says that after attending a British school, he initially struggled to understand American accents when he arrived in America.

And don’t tell…

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