Voiceter Pro, a company that pioneered voice-activated technology in the real estate industry and struck deals with dozens of well-known players, announced Monday that it will permanently shut down operations due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Company co-founder Miguel Berger announced the news in a Facebook post, saying that Voiceter Pro “will cease operations as of June 30.” In a phone conversation with Inman, Berger further explained that the firm — which never took on outside investment money — began to run out of funds during the pandemic.
“You cannot work without money,” he added.
Voiceter Pro owns its own proprietary technology, and Berger said that he did explore the possibility of some sort of sale. But given the ongoing economic downturn, neither finding a buyer nor partnering with an investor proved feasible.
However, Berger noted that the upside of not having investors is that the impact of shutting down is minimized.
“I don’t feel bad that I burned any investors,” he said.
Berger and his son Ami Berger co-founded the company about three and a half years ago. The team eventually grew to include two additional software engineers. Berger said that the engineers have already accepted other jobs.
When it first launched, Voiceter Pro was the real estate industry’s first mainstream voice activated internet (VAI) solution. The company ultimately ended up building applications for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices that let brokers and agents engage with technology using only their voices. The company believed the technology allowed real estate professionals to increase efficiency, and to establish a brand identity on the rapidly growing platforms.
According to Berger, at its peak Voiceter Pro had contracts with roughly 25 companies and industry organizations. Some of those organizations included high-profile multiple listing services such as Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) and Bridge MLS.
The company also partnered with brokerages including McQuaid & Company, Better Homes And Gardens RE Signature Service, Coldwell Banker Advantage and others.
Berger told Inman that Voiceter Pro’s various partners were “very upset” that the company was shutting down, but also “understood the position we’re in.” Voiceter Pro will continue to offer support to its partners through the completion of its contract obligations.
Berger also said that part of running a business is knowing when to throw in the towel.
“When you’re an entrepreneur you have to know when to cut the cord,” he explained.
The demise of Voiceter Pro adds to the growing wreckage of the pandemic. In addition to creating soaring unemployment and an unpredictable stock market generally, the crisis has also led to widespread furloughs and layoffs in the real estate industry.
Despite the fact that his company is shutting down, Berger remained relatively positive Monday while talking with Inman. He said he is proud of what Voiceter Pro accomplished, which he described as prompting an industry that is sometimes slow to change to embrace something entirely new.
“I really think that we were able to actually make the real estate industry aware of this technology,” he said.
Berger also didn’t rule out coming back in “a year or two” with something that builds on Voiceter Pro’s technology. But in the meantime, he plans to use his understanding of real estate tech to consult for other firms.
“I’m still around,” he added. “I’m going to be around in the real estate business.”