Techstars Alexa Startups Address Settings Where Voice Is ‘Most Natural’

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Alexa platform. We help them with customer development, strategy, fundraising—we work closely with the Alexa team. This is Amazon’s way to help startups that are reaching out to the future. What is voice going to look like three to five years from now?

X: What are the technologies that Amazon is aiming to support? Are these of interest to Amazon specifically, in order to get first dibs?

AG: No, not at all. Amazon operates more like an investor, to invest in companies to help make them successful. [Amazon does] make acquisitions. Amazon ended up acquiring Ring, but the goal is to be an investor and supporter. The goal is to really create a vibrant startup ecosystem around voice. [The startups] do become Alexa Fund portfolio companies. … The idea is [to] work with startups to see new opportunities to better enable these awesome customer experiences.

X: Voice is the main star here. What uses do you see coming to light?

AG: You need to look at, what are the areas where voice really makes sense? Look at the initial rise of mobile. Everyone got excited and built an app, but a lot of times, there was no reason for the app. The market was better served with a website. So with voice right now, what are areas where, for example, you are using your hands, so having an interaction via voice is the right approach? This is the beginning of ambient computing, where you don’t have to direct your focus onto a screen, but you can interact with the environment in an ambient way.

Where is it just easier to use voice rather than open up an app? You think about accessibility and the elderly, and what happens when you can’t use your hands. What are those customer experiences where voice is not just a novelty, but the most natural way for a person to interact with technology? That’s where we’re going to see a lot of interesting applications. This year is the year that brands are getting much more involved in voice. It’s still really early, but when we look back five to 10 years from now … in the same way we … Next Page »

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