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Women in Entrepreneurship: Dr. Patricia Scanlon and SoapBox Labs

In continuation of Enterprise Ireland’s Female Entrepreneurship series celebrating the launch of Enterprise Ireland’s Level Project, a planning toolkit aimed toward helping businesses develop gender-balanced leadership teams, this third article will highlight another woman leader using her business and expertise to transform an industry. The women highlighted in this series are all working to transform multiple sectors globally including healthcare, cybersecurity, education technology, agricultural technology, and skincare

Dr. Patricia Scanlon is the Founder & Executive Chair of SoapBox Labs. Dr. Scanlon holds a Ph.D. in Speech Recognition and has over 20 years of experience working with speech recognition technology, including work at Bell Labs and IBM. Dr. Scanlon recognized that voice recognition made for adults could not work for children and that there was a great opportunity to use AI to help children access instruction and speech assessment. Dr. Scanlon was inspired by her oldest child, her research findings on the importance of reading proficiency, and her background as a speech engineer to create SoapBox Labs in 2013. 

Dr. Scanlon has been named one of the world’s top women in tech by Forbes and a “Visionary in Voice” by industry-leading publication Voicebot.AI. Scanlon is also an accomplished TEDx speaker with talks like; “How Technology Transforms a Child’s Reading Journey,” where she shared her experience in the voice, EdTech, and KidTech industry. In the talk, Dr. Scanlon states that a child’s proficiency at learning to read by age 8 is a key indicator of their future success.

Soapbox labs redefines how children interact with technology using their voices. The company helps children of any age learn and practice their speech with flexible, scalable, and customizable technology that can be used on or offline. Their voice-enabled literacy, math, and language tools allow teachers to assess students’ speech more regularly and personalize their instruction.  

The SoapBox proprietary speech recognition software caters to kids’ unpredictable speech patterns and behaviors, is accurate across global accents and dialects and works in the noisy environments that kids inhabit. SoapBox Labs empowers kids of all ages, accents, and backgrounds to use their voices as tools to shape the world around them. This helps teachers use their time efficiently to give students the feedback and attention they need to make the greatest learning improvements they can.

Enterprise Ireland’s support of women leaders like Dr. Scanlon is providing new technologies and solutions to children globally. The transformation these children will experience early on because of this technology will greatly impact them now and help prepare them to shape the world they create in the future. 

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