Applications are now open for the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars. We’re excited to team up again with the Alexa Fund to run our second class and we are matching the growth in the space and opportunity by expanding this year’s program.
On top of up to 10 companies that we’ll be working with in Q3 2018 here in Seattle, we’ll also be selecting up to three international companies that will spend their time in both our London and Seattle offices. This will help us leverage the Alexa Fund’s recently announced $100MM in venture capital to support global investment opportunities.
Amazing First Year
We had a very successful inaugural class of the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars and the future of our alumni is bright. For example, Pulse Labs recently announced its first funding round, while others like Sensible Object, Play Impossible, Novel Effect, and Botnik have been covered in the likes of CNET, GeekWire, Mashable and WIRED for their innovation with voice. We’re excited about what’s ahead for all of them in the months to come.
What’s New in Voice Technology?
Voice technology has evolved considerably since we announced the program back in 2016. At the time, Alexa was available on three Amazon devices. Today, there is a whole family of Amazon Echo and Alexa devices, and more than 50 Alexa-enabled products built by other device makers. Alexa is now truly everywhere… even within my own home, my family has grown from a household of two Echos to 10 (four of them with screens).
As Alexa has grown and evolved, so too have the enabling technologies that make the service possible. This, in turn, has created a whole new set of opportunities for startups.
In addition to domains such as connected home, entertainment and speech science, we see a number of new themes emerging that represent opportunity.
With the launch of Alexa for Business, there is also new opportunity for startups to help bring Alexa into the workplace. Twine was a part of our 2017 program and was an early launch partner for the Alexa for Business program. We now know what Alexa looks like in the home, but what about in a conference room, office lobby, or at your desk?
On the Go
Customers are increasingly taking Alexa with them on the go – whether that’s in their car, out on a run, with them on vacation – and companies are innovating to bring voice to wearables, mobile phones, connected fitness experiences and so much more. We can’t wait to see the next creative ideas startups will have for extending Alexa beyond the home.
Family-Focused Technology and Connected Play
Echo devices are designed for the whole family to use together. With the Verified Parental Consent functionality launched at the end of 2017, startups can now develop new voice experiences for the whole family to enjoy. Companies from our 2017 program like Play Impossible, Novel Effect, and Sensible Object are building new voice experiences for this segment.
Enabling Technologies and Developer Tools
As brands and businesses flock to Alexa in 2018, there’s an enormous opportunity for startups that can help make the transition to voice easier. Like Pulse Labs and Aspinity from our last program, we are interested in startups who bring the picks and shovels that enable products and services which incorporate voice in compelling new ways, following in the footsteps of Levi Strauss during the California Gold Rush.
We look forward to meeting the amazing startups that will join us for year two. Please join us over the next couple months in your city as the Alexa Accelerator team travels the world.
February 27: Seattle, WA
March 6: San Francisco
March 7: Los Angeles
March 15: London
March 19: Paris
March 25: Tel Aviv
March 27: Online AMA
April 2: New York
April 3: Boston
Techstars is excited to announce the nine companies that will be joining the Alexa Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Seattle. This is the program’s inaugural class and we are thrilled for the opportunity to partner with a local startup success story such as Amazon.
Each of our companies has a focus in voice integration ranging from a number of applications, including hardware, gaming, user testing, customer service, and more.
We’ll be kicking things off this week and are looking forward to three months of hard work and dedication. The program culminates on October 17 with Demo Night, where our teams will pitch their products and seek investment from top venture capitalists and angel investors.
Don’t miss the chance to watch this exciting display of innovation and reserve your ticket now!
We are ecstatic to welcome this inaugural class to the Techstars community and look forward to ushering in the era of voice to Seattle.
Here are the Alexa Accelerator, Powered by Techstars 2017 companies:
Aspinity: Ultra-low power embedded systems for IoT devices.
Botnik Studios: Digital tools for self-expression.
MSZ, Inc: User-centered interaction testing for voice apps, with actionable insights and analytics from target audiences.
Novel Effect: Powering voice interactive entertainment.
Play Impossible: An active gaming system that brings digital action outdoors.
Semantica: Humans and AI working side by side.
Sensible Object: Merging physical and digital and harnessing the power of devices already in the connected home to power face-to-face social interaction and entertainment.
Tinitell: Your kid’s first mobile phone.
Twine: Bridging the gap between conference room functions and team collaboration tools.
If we’ve ever met to talk startups, you’ve heard me mention Techstars once or twice (okay maybe a hundred times). I’m like an alumni who bleeds the Techstars green, but when you ask me what year I went through the program, I surprise you with my answer, “never… but it’s complicated.”
Over the past seven years I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Chris Devore and Andy Sack, the current and former MDs of the Techstars Seattle program respectively.
As part of the program’s selection committee, I’ve reviewed hundreds of applications and met face to face with nearly 300 companies.
Most importantly, I’ve been able to work with and mentor about 100 founders whose experiences have immeasurably enriched my entrepreneurial journey, especially during those first two years when my company, Simply Measured, shared an office with the program.
At the core of Techstars is the principle “give first,” which I’ve experienced comprehensively since first being welcomed into the Techstars family.
Techstars has foundationally shaped who I am as an entrepreneur and investor, and has taught me how to be a valuable member of any community. With that, this summer I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to give back and learn in a new way, as Techstars Managing Director of the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars.
The era of voice is just beginning, and my goal is to create, support and cultivate a vibrant community of startups shaping the future of how humans interact with machines through voice. And do so the Techstars way, founder first, in a city that’s experiencing rapid growth across every sector. With the Alexa Accelerator, we’re adding more fuel to Seattle’s powerful entrepreneurial engine.
We’re looking both for founders who know the space, as well as those who are just dreaming about it. Alexa is just getting started and voice technologies are going to change how we build products and solve problems in ways that are hard to even imagine today, which is what I’m the most interested in.
That being said, there are some specific areas of opportunity for startups to thrive in the accelerator that I’m extremely excited about:
For any of you who own an Amazon Echo, this should be obvious. I can’t imagine my home today, especially with my four month old infant in my arms much of the time, without Alexa.
Like a lot of consumer experiences we love, voice innovation should follow us to work. Imagine always available hospitality services through voice, or interacting with a manufacturing line like you would your co-worker. The sky is truly the limit here.
While driving my car I feel like I’m in a prison in between stop lights. If only someone would listen to me…
I’m your stereotypical Seattleite who is always looking for new ways to live a fun and healthy lifestyle, but it’s never easy. Imagine if voice could help me easily find information suited to my personal likes and conditions.
Anyone familiar with wearables knows their promise, but also the deficiencies in trying to juggle using them alongside your phone. Sometimes it makes sense, but other times not so much. Imagine the possibilities with voice to help in this disconnect.
Amazon and Techstars are ready to pour everything we’ve got into enabling founders to define the future of voice. Today, Seattle is known by many in the tech world as Cloud City, but it’s my mission to turn Seattle into Voice City. That mission begins today with the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Applications are open and we’d love to hear about what you’re up to.
If you’re a startup interested in learning more about the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, I’ll be hitting the road to meet the world’s best entrepreneurs. Be sure to sign up for office hours and attend an upcoming info session near you:
New York City | March 9 | Sign up for office hours
You can also join us online for a live AMA on March 15th to learn more and get your questions answered, register here.
Applications for the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars close April 23rd. Apply today.