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Vanessa Theel COO and Co-Founder

Vanessa Theel


My startup in a nutshell: Every 8th person in Germany is overwhelmed by complicated texts and needs easy-to-understand language in order not to be excluded from important information in everyday life. The SUMM AI team has therefore developed the "Google Translate" for easy language: An AI-powered tool that automatically translates any complicated text into Easy Language! Easy Language is a firmly defined language style from the field of accessibility, which is understandable for everyone with simple sentence structure and the renunciation of foreign words.

Follow SUMM AI at:

Our team: 

We are an interdisciplinary founding team with a strong background in AI research. We are on the mission to use AI to solve a societally relevant problem – and combining it with a commercially attractive business case. Our founding team is supported by 15 team members who are diverse and highly motivated (4 nationalities, 60% female). Our team has a complementary skillset in software development, language, sales, and marketing.

Our founding history: 

After graduation, we asked ourselves among the founding team: “How could we use our knowledge and skills in the field of AI research for a societally relevant purpose?”. We found a fitting use case within in the family of our co-founder Flora: Due to a disability, her aunt needs easy language to navigate her daily life. Nevertheless, she surfs the Internet, looking for important information on current news, researching opening hours, products etc.. She is particularly interested in politics! Unfortunately, she often can't understand the complicated texts she finds online. Like her, far more than 10 million people in Germany need easy langue, and so we quickly realized how big of a deal this topic is!

This is how our business idea transforms the content industry: 

More than 10 million people in Germany rely on easy language to be able to understand content. Including people with German as a non-native language, it is roughly 20 million! So far, this large audience has hardly been able to access conventional content and can only be targeted with content in easy language. Thus, easy language is an ideal measure to encourage the target group to read. This has also been recognized by legislators: Accessibility is part of the State Media Treaty (Medienstaatsvertrag) and the Barrier-Free Accessibility Strengthening Act (Barrierefreiheitsstärkungsgesetz) will also apply to e-books from 2025. Therefore, there are large opportunities and a dire need for action!

With AI-based translation of existing and new content into easy language at scale, we enable the entire domain to leverage technology for fast action and access to a large new audience.

As a startup, we have already been part of the media industry for some time (e.g. through the tremendous support by MediaLab Bayern #shoutout). For us, the industry is a key area! However, it is also an are that is difficult to tap into "from the outside". For us as newcomers, it is very valuable to gain first-hand insights into the industry and we benefit immensely from networks being shared with us. Last but not least, the networking and exchange with other startups is incredibly valuable! Vanessa Theel

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