Phont is an early-stage startup that goes beyond traditional subtitles to deliver a more immersive and inclusive media experience. Leveraging their specially developed AI, they identify language nuances like emotions in spoken dialogue and translate them into empirically crafted designs. Their participation in the AI Founders program has been transformative, providing three months of focused teamwork in Heilbronn. This experience has been crucial in refining their innovative approach.
In our upcoming chat, we will delve deeper into Phont’s unique vision and the significant societal impact they aim to achieve. We will also highlight how the AI Founders program has been a cornerstone in their development, offering them resources, mentorship, and a collaborative environment that is crucial for nurturing groundbreaking ideas like theirs.
1. What’s the source of inspiration that has influenced your startup’s mission?
The inspiration for Phont came from recognizing the limitations of traditional subtitles, which only provide a one-dimensional representation of spoken words. We wanted to create a more immersive and inclusive media experience by conveying not just the words, but also the emotions and nuances in the voice. A quote that inspires us is from the Oscar-winning Korean director Bong Joon Ho: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
2. Tell us the story behind Phont.
One night, while sitting in a bar with friends from all over the world, Frederik, a trained type designer, wondered how different accents and emotions in speech could be visually represented in type. The idea of representing speech characteristics through design was born, a project that later became Phont, when Paula and Paul joined.
3. How do you see your startup contributing to a broader positive impact in the world?
Our aim with Phont is to provide a function of inclusion, immersion, and diversity. Whether your reason for watching subtitles is due to hearing difficulties, a preference for watching films in their original language, or simply because you forgot your headphones on the subway, we want to give you subtitles that accurately convey the emotion of a scene.
4. How can AI Founders help in this regard?
The valuable mentorship from experienced venture managers at AI Founders, such as Nico, is of great help. Equally important is the continuous exchange with our peers, other AI startups that are part of the program, and the network that Campus Founders has offered us so far. Last but not least, we are happy about the chance to work fully committed as a team together every day in Heilbronn, while exploring a city we never dreamed of living in.