Alexa Accelerator Participant Novel Effect Raises $3M
Seattle startup Novel Effect has had quite a successful journey since being founded in 2015. The company’s iOS app uses voice recognition technology to integrate sound effects and other audio cues for dozens of children’s books to create an enhanced story telling experience. The app essentially listens along to the user and provides sounds to go along with the story. For instance, a scary growl when a monster is mentioned in the story, as you can see in the video below.
Amazon, seeing the potential of Novel Effect’s voice recognition technology for Alexa, selected it as one of its startups for the inaugural Alexa Accelerator. It appears they were impressed as the company recently announced a $3 million investment round, with partial funds coming from Amazon’s Alexa Fund. The Series A round was led by Alpha Edison, TenOneTen and Waverley Capital in addition to three others.
Bringing New Technology to Old Traditions
The idea came to cofounders Matt and Melissa Hammersley when they were expecting their first child in 2015. Since then, the Novel Effect app has been downloaded more than 50,000 times and has more than 10,000 active monthly users with an average session time clocking in at more than 5 minutes. With an average session time like that, it’s no wonder Amazon sees potential in Novel Effect. The company plans to expand its iOS app to both Android and Alexa with its new cash flow.
Novel Effect is a creative way of bringing new technology like voice recognition to the timeless tradition of reading aloud to your children. It is not substituting a parent’s voice with Alexa or a voice assistant. Instead, it is enhancing the experience.