Undergrad earns patent
From wine corks to a patented silicone design, a student at a university in the region is using his voice and invention to help people with their speech.
Patented speech aid
Western Michigan University said last week that sophomore marketing student Daniel Floyd received a design patent for his speech-enunciation device, SpeechMasterPro.
Floyd, founder of SpeechMasterPro, began the patent process two years ago for both a design patent and a utility patent, which is still pending, for the FDA-approved silicone device.
In response to receiving the patent, Floyd said it will make it easier to speak with influencers and supporters of the product to drive business growth.
“This patent validates the design of my product and my hard work to this point,” Floyd said.
The SpeechMasterPro was developed to help users improve their articulation and elocution by strengthening mouth and facial muscles.
With the use of the speech aid, users over-enunciate words and sounds to create clearer pronunciation when the device is removed.
Floyd’s original device used wine corks from area restaurants, which were then re-shaped to rest naturally between the front teeth.
Floyd anticipates creating distribution channels to continue growing his business, such as marketing the device to retail outlets.
He worked with two Chicago-area firms during the process: Product Development Technologies to create a SpeechMasterPro design for mass production and Accurate Products to make FDA-approved silicone prototypes.
SpeechMasterPro costs $19.95 and includes a protective cap and neck lanyard.
Floyd's interest in developing the speech aid stemmed from his personal experience, since he was born with an articulation disorder and spent time in speech therapy.
“It was just difficult for me to be understood in general, so when I was in middle school and in high school, it was really tough because of bullying,” Floyd said. “The hardships I faced while being bullied are my motivation — helping others to get past their speech impediments is really fulfilling.”
Last year, Floyd participated in Starting Gate, WMU’s student business accelerator, to develop his business, while waiting to receive patent approval.
Starting Gate connects students to startup resources and is available to students through a competitive application process.
“Starting Gate provided me a great environment to share my ideas with other entrepreneurs and obtain valuable feedback,” Floyd said.
Lara Hobson, director of operations at Starting Gate, said it’s rewarding to see Floyd, a student entrepreneur, reach this level of success.
She said the accelerator is “so proud” of Floyd’s “hard work and dedication to launching his product.“
“His story of how he came to create SpeechMasterPro and his work ethic are truly inspiring,” Hobson said.
Starting Gate is located in the Haymarket Building in downtown Kalamazoo and operated in partnership by the WMU Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and WMU Office of Community Outreach.