Melbourne based healthtech hardware startup Talkiplay closes $750,000 round of seed funding led by Scale Investors

Melbourne based healthtech hardware startup TalkiPlay announced closing its $750,000 seed round led by Scale Investors following early market success.

The TalkiPlay business uses an interactive toy to assist children with speaking difficulties to learn to talk. Using repetition, gameplay and music, the TalkiPlay toy “talks” to children engaging with their physical environment. This real-life object to language association learning is known to assist children with their speaking and can also be used to teach children a foreign language.

Dr Annie McAuley founded the business in 2017 after being successfully selected for BlueChilli’s SheStarts accelerator. Dr McAuley invented TalkiPlay to assist her daughter Grace’s development when she was diagnosed as a “late talker”. Dr McAuley herself suffered the loss of speech resulting from a skiing accident as a teenager in 2001, providing her with unique insight and determination to improve the language acquisition tools available for children.

“The TalkiPlay toy is very personal to me and represents my ambition to help children, like my daughter Grace, to overcome their challenges in learning to speak.” Says TalkiPlay founder and CEO, Dr McAuley.

“I’m grateful to be supported by an amazing team of people like Ariane (CEO of Scale Investors) and Sebastien (CEO of BlueChilli) who share and believe in my vision.”

The seed round was lead by Australian Angel Investing group, Scale Investors. Scale Investors have a mission to connect diverse investors to invest in high growth women led technology startups. Since starting in 2013, Scale Investors has invested $8.3million into 16 female-led startups, including Australian early stage businesses Trademark Vision (successfully acquired by Clarivate Analytics in 2018) and MimicTec.


Scale Investors CEO Ariane Barker noted - this is a real solution for a real life problem affecting many families. “My daughter Renee is hearing impaired and I remember experiencing the challenge of helping her learn to talk, with many years spent on audiology, speech therapy and occupational therapy appointments. By bringing this device and associated interactive therapies into the home, families can help support their children in learning to talk, in any language. As a globally positioned business, the associated commercial applications are compelling”

Scale Angel Investor, board member and deal lead Catherine Robson commended founder Dr Annie McAuley on the compelling nature of TalkiPlay’s innovation and the global scalability of the business.

“Dr McAuley has leveraged her outstanding scientific research background to develop an ingenious educational device which assists the development of language for young children. Utilising emerging internet of things technology and already strongly endorsed by educators, TalkiPlay has demonstrated strong potential to dominate the Australian healthtech market and quickly scale internationally.

Dr McAuley has the ideal mix of a thorough, evidence-based approach to research and development, with genuine passion for the subject matter and impressive business acumen. She has surrounded herself with an excellent team to deliver on the growth opportunities for TalkiPlay.”

Non-Exec Director and Scale Angel Investor co-deal lead, Amanda Derham said “The entrepreneur, the product, the timing and the team are a critical part of any start-up’s success. While Founder Dr Annie McAuley is thoughtful and resilient, diligent and open, her superpower is applying expertise from a medical discipline to a universal platform. I'm very excited about the scalability of TalkiPlay and Dr. McAuley’s capabilities.”


Using 3D printing techniques, custom designed electronics and software, BlueChilli designed and engineered the toy prototype as its investment into the startup. “BlueChilli backs talented domain experts like Annie” said BlueChilli CEO Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin. “Dr McAuley is an incredible entrepreneur and it’s been a privilege to work with her to develop her product and to support her through this next phase of her journey”

“She has been involved in every aspect of the business, and is even the ‘singing voice’ of the toy!”

More information can be found at

Further media can be found here.


Dr. Annie McAuley, Founder of TalkiPlay 0412 648 093

Ariane Barker, CEO of Scale Investors 0488 098 138

Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, CEO of BlueChilli 0438 772 657