Bespoken Raises $2.4 Million Seed Funding Round
Bespoken announced today that it has completed a $2.4 million seed funding round led by independent angel investors. The company offers software solutions for voice app development, testing, monitoring and troubleshooting. It is headquartered in Lima, Peru with offices in Seattle and Washington, DC.
About 2,500 developers use Bespoken for testing and monitoring over 1,000 Amazon Alexa skills and Google Assistant Actions according to the company. Bespoken CEO and co-founder John Kelvie will be jointly presenting with Mercedes-Benz at the upcoming Voice Summit conference in New Jersey later this month. Voicebot will also be there.
Filling the Gap in Voice App Testing
Voicebot connected with John Kelvie today to ask some questions about the company focus and progress to date.
1) How is Bespoken different from other forms of testing developers are using today?
John Kelvie: We are the only solution for voice apps that provides automated unit-testing, end-to-end testing as well as continuous testing (aka monitoring). Our end-to-end testing goes so far as to allow users to easily simulate a human speaker talking to a voice device. This is done simply by typing.
Prior to our solution, developers had no choice but to rely on slow, tedious and error-prone manual interactions, via real or software-based devices. We save users a massive amount of time on testing and help them do it far more reliably, across languages, accents, and platforms.
2) What problems does Bespoken solve that are gaps in current approaches?
Kelvie: Fundamentally, voice is tricky to design and test for. New tools are needed, such as ours, to enable conversational applications that really work for users. Just [take] a quick perusal of the skill store and you will see that quality issues are rampant among high-profile skills.
Part of what makes voice tricky is that it is not easy to automate. The fundamental gap is that it relies on speech to work, whereas almost all existing tooling for testing and monitoring works by emulating pointing-and-clicking or generating direct API interactions. We bridge this gap, and allow for people to easily test voice apps across the development lifecycle, from initial coding on through ongoing monitoring. The goal is to ensure our users are delivering quality experiences to their customers.
3) Who is the ideal user?
Kelvie: Our offering helps developers, QA and operations people in equal measure. Candidly, we have not seen a great deal of operations people in the voice space yet, so our current focus is on developers and QA people. We provide an easy-to-use approach to writing tests that has been adopted successfully by developers and non-developers alike. Our ideal user is anyone who wants to save time and build faster and more reliably for voice.
4) Have you quantified the benefit anywhere?
Kelvie: A few highlights from across our customer-base:
- Hundreds of test cases automated, allowing for complete regression tests at the push of a button
- Numerous production issues identified thanks to our monitoring tools
- 10X better code coverage thanks for our unit-testing tools
- 50% time savings on QA versus previous manual efforts
Investment in Voice on the Rise
Bespoken’s announcement is the latest in a series of fund raising eventsfor voice related startups.
- Voice app development platform Storyline announced a $770,00 funding round last week.
- Voice game developer Sensible Object closed $3.2 million round in June.
- Novel Effect which enhances stories with sound effects raised $3 million in June.
- Independent voice assistant developer Snips.ai raised a $13 million funding round in June.
- Independent voice assistant developer SoundHound closed $100 million in financing in May.
- Healthcare voice assistant startup Suki raised $20 million in May.
- Voice interactive meeting assistant maker Voicera closed $20 million in funding in April.
- Sayspring was acquired by Adobe in April.
Voice is a hot sector that investors are increasingly backing from seed to later stage investments. Expect to see more of this in the coming months.