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10/22/2018 Interview > Student

Title

A New Horizon for Audiobooks

Hanyang University’s startup team, LionRocket

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http://www.hanyang.ac.kr/surl/gNAm

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With the advent of Audible, an audiobook service by Amazon, audiobooks have been gaining enormous popularity. The fact that people can listen to books with voiceovers regardless of the place and time makes it even more convenient, and the user range can include the visually handicapped as well. However, not being able to personally select the desirable voiceover may be conventional. In order to improve the traditional audiobooks out in the current market, a startup team named LionRocket consisting of three Hanyang University student entrepreneurs gathered to create audiobooks using different voices, including celebrities. The LionRocket team, formed in February 2018, has seized various opportunities and was awarded prizes for winning numerous startup competitions. In the recent 2018 Excellent University Startup Competition in Seoul, held on September 20th, 2018, the team was awarded the prize of excellence.
 

(From left) LionRocket's Mun Hyung-jun (Department of Information Systems, 2nd year), Park Jun-hyung (Department of Information Systems, 4th year), and Jeong Seung-hwan (Department of Information Systems, 4th year) won the prize of excellence at the 2018 University Startup Competition in Seoul, held on September 20th, 2018.
(Photo Courtesy of Jeong)
LionRocket’s Jeong Seung-hwan (Department of Information Systems, 4th year), Mun Hyung-jun (Department of Information Systems, 2nd year), and Park Jun-hyung (Department of Information Systems, 4th year) are friends in the same major who had the same interests in starting a startup company. The main goal of LionRocket is to provide audiobooks with various voiceovers customers can select from. “I was inspired by a presenter’s similar topic at a developer conference in 2017 and decided to start the business that could initially contribute to the visually handicapped who would have difficulties reading a written book,” stated Jeong, the representative of LionRocket. LionRocket’s current business plan consists of implementing a deep learning system and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) to replace the original text-to-speech (TTs) technology, which tends to sound unnatural due to its mechanical sounds. 
 
LionRocket members talk about the difficult process they went through in order to develop their business plan. (From left), Park Jun-hyung (Department of Information Systems, 4th year), Jeong Seung-hwan (Department of Information Systems, 4th year), Mun Hyung-jun (Department of Information Systems, 2nd year)
The three students take roles in the audiobook development process. As the representatives of LionRocket, Jeong focuses on taking care of the general project, and Park is responsible for analyzing the preprocessing of Korean language data most suitable for the AI. Mun designs and maintains the deep learning model. The current business model is yet to be completed but the team has been periodically uploading their work videos on YouTube.
(Link to LionRocket's YouTube channel)
 

Business model planning was not an easy process in the beginning. As the members lacked financial support and knowledge in artificial intelligence (AI), they had to spend their own money in the first month to initiate the plan. However, after receiving subsidy from Hanium, a center that provides IT talent training, and collecting prize money from winning various university startup competitions, they were able to utilize a GPU with a deep learning service and start their studies on AI. LionRocket is now awaiting government subsidy.
 

(From left), Mun Hyung-jun (Department of Information Systems, 2nd grade), Jeong Seung-hwan (Department of Information Systems, 4th grade), and Park Jun-hyung (Department of Information Systems, 4th grade) hope they will be able to provide the audiobook service to the public by the end of 2018.
LionRocket is in the process of negotiating with the publishers in order to provide the service to the public hopefully by the end of 2018. Their long-term goals for the business is to gain 50,000 users and provide these audiobooks to the visually impaired as soon as possible. Mun stated that he would wish nothing more than to take the subway and see people using the application in the future. “As we are a team of engineering students, we lack marketing and design skills. It would be nice if there is someone interested in working together after checking some of our work online,” hoped Jeong.



Seok Ga-ram        carpethediem@hanyang.ac.kr
Photos by Park Guen-hyung
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