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Christchurch startup looks to fix voicemail headaches

A Christchurch-based startup is looking to end frustrations over voicemail inbox calls. 

Vxt, co-founded by University of Canterbury students Luke Campbell and Lucy Turner, converts voicemails to text for users to read in the Vxt app, or via an email. 

The company is also developing other tools to automate administrative tasks, such as event scheduling.

The idea for the app came to Campbell last year after receiving a voicemail. 

"Someone had sent me a voicemail and I was frustrated with how slow and annoying the process of checking it was. Checking voicemail is a pain in the ass and so I thought: Why not change it?," he says.

"Calling voicemail, checking the messages, trying to write down the name and phone number to call back on; the whole process is so painfully slow and inefficient," he explains.

"I figured if I had the problem just receiving a few voicemails, people who receive hundreds every month would be at their wits end! Converting voicemail messages to text seemed like a really obvious solution and one which we can add all sorts of other useful features to," Campbell says.

Campbell, a physics and economics student, was doing a course with a focus on startups. With startups on his mind, he convinced Turner to join him in turning the idea into a business.

 The duo received scholarships to work on the idea over the summer, and won a New Zealand Business Intelligence grant earlier this year to help them commercialise Vxt. 

 Just this month, they were awarded 1st place in the annual $85K Startup Challenge, netting $19,000 worth of prizes.

On top of these awards, Vxt has won the support of large organisations such as Google to help them build their business.

 The Vxt co-founders say their app saves time and hassle for anyone who uses a phone and receives voice messages, and it can be particularly helpful for people with poor hearing, and business owners. 

 In particular, tradespeople who run their own businesses receive many voicemails while they're working. Vxt allows them to respond to their customers more quickly, improving the service they provide.

 Just in New Zealand alone, two million voicemails are recorded every single day, Campbell says. 

"If you tried to listen to every one of them, you'd spend almost a year playing them back to back," he says.

"Roughly one million Kiwis check their voicemail at least once a week. We're on a mission to give them back that time.

"It's a well-known fact that millennials absolutely hate phone calls, and perhaps the only thing worse than a phone call is having to check voicemail messages," Campbell says.  

"That's why so many millennials are now telling people to send texts instead of leaving voice messages. 

"But now thanks to Vxt, they don't need to; those who want to leave voice messages can, and those who'd rather receive them as text messages can, too," he says.

Vxt is free to use for low usage but there are paid subscription plans for heavier usage.

The founders are looking to raise capital to help them launch Vxt internationally next year.