“After I spent the first $2,000 on my business, I went into my room and cried,” recalled Saïda Florexil, founder of West Palm Beach hearing tech startup Imanyco. For the then student at Lynn University, “it seemed like so much money.”
But Florexil did not let her nerves set her back. Instead, this episode taught her “you have to sacrifice something if you want to accomplish something.”
And Florexil certainly knows something about accomplishments. She has participated, and won, pitch competitions in destinations as diverse as South Florida and the Netherlands. Florexil proudly holds two patents for her inventions, and she participated in the 1909 accelerator in West Palm Beach. Now she is part of Florida Atlantic University’s Tech Runway Venture Program, a yearlong training program Florexil credits with helping get her business off the ground by providing her with training sessions, mentoring, marketing assistance, and exposure to successful serial entrepreneurs.
Since graduating from Lynn in 2019, Florexil, who is deaf, has developed a web app that helps deaf people participate in conversations with hearing people. Imanyco’s app stands out from the competition because it displays each speaker’s dialogue separately, rather than in one homogenous block of text. “It’s very important for me to be independent,” Florexil said, “and this app lets everyone be an equal participant in group conversations.”
Florexil describes the web app as a minimum viable product. She says a public beta will be available soon: “I think it will be really interesting to see how people are utilizing this product.”
Imanyco plans to continue working with Miami-based Prototype House to develop a piece of hardware that improves the quality of the transcription by isolating noise through a wearable microphone. This device will also recognize specific sounds in the users’ environment – an emergency siren, a crying baby, someone’s name – and send a text and vibration notification to the user.
Under the guidance of FAU Tech Runway’s Rhys Williams, Imanyco is looking to raise $1 million in a pre-seed round. “Saïda’s recent exposure on the PBS NewsHour brought forward some angel investors expressing interest in Imanyco,” said Williams. “We have been working with her recently to fine-tune the planning documents that are required when you agree to accept outside money.”
“I’m looking for an investor that understands my vision and wants to be part of the process,” Florexil explained. “I especially value mentorship from people who are deaf.” She said she appreciated the practical advice she recently received from another deaf founder, such as how to manage employees as a deaf person.
Her advice for other founders? “Just go for it and don’t be afraid to take risks.” She also expressed gratitude for the South Florida entrepreneurial community that supported her along the way.
“Throughout my journey, I’ve gotten a lot of no’s. People have laughed in my face for being too ambitious. But that just made me feel more motivated. My advice is to ask for feedback and just keep going.”
According to Williams, Florexil is on the path to success: “Saida is doing an admirable job of balancing serious product development, getting the word out about her venture, and raising capital. The sky is the limit for this talented entrepreneur!”
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