Voice and video technology startup Eagle Speak LLC has sold to another startup, this one in the health care technology sector.
Hearo Technologies LLC, based in Missouri, purchased Eagle Speak for undisclosed terms on Dec. 31, said CEO and co-founder Jason Arend.
“It really just evolved from initial things we were exploring,” he said of work to license Eagle Speak technologies and intellectual property.
The negotiating process took about six months, Arend said.
“The opportunities this gives us and the passion we have for the technologies that are being built couldn’t be passed up,” Arend said.
But little is known about Eagle Speak’s new owner, and those close to the deal aren’t saying much yet.
“There will be a lot coming out next month, and because of that, we don’t want to preview any of those details,” said Myke Bates, Eagle Speak’s co-founder and chief technology officer.
He referred questions about Hearo Technologies to Jim Carr, a longtime investor in Eagle Speak through Mayhem Development LLC. Carr did not respond to multiple calls for comment.
According to a news release on the sale, Eagle Speak’s talent, experience and intellectual property were major factors in the acquisition.
“It’s structured specifically to handle the emerging markets in health care it’s going to be targeting,” Arend said of Hearo Technologies’ business plan.
According to Missouri secretary of state business registration filings, Hearo Technologies was organized in September 2018. The paperwork identifies Sara Stock as the registered agent and Sarah Kovenock as the organizer, both of whom are officials of St. Louis-based law firm Stock Legal LLC.
Currently, the new firm’s website, Hearo.ai, only features its logo, and Hearo Technologies doesn’t appear to have a presence on social media.
Eagle Speak will be providing software and hardware for Hearo, Arend said.
The company offers communication, file transfer, data encryption and voice recognition technologies, including a free web platform that’s used in 80 countries.
“It works incredibly well overseas, especially in more developing nations where cellular infrastructure isn’t as mature as it is in the United States,” Arend said. “So even on what would be subpar cellular connections, you can still get zero delay and extremely high definition audio and video calls between any two points.”
Eagle Speak was not necessarily looking to be acquired, Bates said, but the deal naturally evolved from conversations with Hearo officials.
The company plans to remain in the efactory under the same name.
“Because of our voice and video products, we found it actually made a good fit into some other stuff that was being worked on,” Arend said, declining to disclose last year’s revenue for Eagle Speak.
It’s a position that neither would have imagined four years ago.
Eagle Speak’s journey began with a monumental, albeit impromptu, weekend in 2015 during a Google Startup event in Springfield.
They thought the event would be a chance to develop products. It was a bit more in-depth.
“It turned out they wanted us to make a business and business plan and marketing plans, all this stuff,” Arend said. “What we wanted to do was be able to communicate with each other while we’re working without ever having to stop working.”
Arend and Bates won first place and the Audience Choice award.
“By the end of the weekend, we had fully prototyped out a working voice recognition platform, and we demoed it live and instantly people got it,” Arend said of the walkie-talkie style desktop platform.
Even with the surprising success, it was back to the daily grind.
“We went back to our jobs like normal on Monday morning,” Arend said.
He was working as a freelance consultant, while Bates worked on development for Marlin Network’s The Alchemedia Project.
“I just quit my job in October,” Bates said.
About six months after the startup event, Bates and Arend entered the Spin 66 Pitch Pit competition in 2016. Now it was time to take a business plan seriously.
“We started working on a brand-new version of the software at the time and started digging into what the potential business model would look like, what the actual demand was, what the current traction was and what the growth patterns were,” Arend said. “We realized not only is this a viable business, but this is actually something worth pursuing.”
Eagle Speak ending up winning the competition.
The efactory asked Eagle Speak to apply for its first business accelerator, a 12-week program for startup and emerging companies where they receive a $30,000 investment in exchange for 8 percent equity ownership. Eagle Speak finished the program in October 2016.
The purchase of Eagle Speak is the first acquisition from one of the accelerators, said Rachel Anderson, director of the efactory. She was not familiar with the officials behind the formation of Hearo Technologies or their plans.
The name Eagle Speak originates from Arend and Bates’ work at PFI Western Stores Inc., the same place the duo met, 12 years ago.
They saw a motivational poster with an eagle on it.
“It kind of became a joke for us,” Bates said. “We were always referring to the ‘focus eagle.’”
The poster, now with the eagle adorning sunglasses, is in the Eagle Speak office at the efactory.
“Not only did we stick with it, we leaned into it hard,” Bates said.
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