Alexa Accelerator Class 3 is Now Accepting Applications
The Amazon Alexa Fund and Techstars today announced the application process has officially kicked-off for the third class of the Alexa Accelerator. The Alexa Accelerator is operated by Techstars and is a 13-week program roughly broken up in thirds. Abhishek Suthan, CEO and co-founder of Pulse Labs, participated in the inaugural Alexa Accelerator and summarized program during Voicebot Podcast Episode 52:
“It’s a three-month program…The first month is a lot about mentorship and connecting by firstly exposing you to a lot of different perspectives and also connecting you to different groups within Amazon. That really helps because that gives you a good network both in the general startup entrepreneur community, but also more specifically within Amazon and voice. Secondly, it also gives you access to both technical as well as business teams within Amazon.
“The second month is focused on building the product. So, that’s where founders and team members work extremely long hours to build the product to get it to a state where you’re actually deploying it and getting your early pilots through and signing up beta customers…The third month is focused a lot on fundraising…I think the Techstars network, in particular, is pretty broad and that’s beneficial.”
You Don’t Need to be Voice-First or Voice-Only to Be Accepted
In a blog post today by the Alexa Fund’s Brian Adams he pointed out that participants do not need to be voice-first or voice-only companies to be accepted. This is consistent with conversations I have had previously about the program. There will undoubtedly be some tie to voice or AI, but it may be secondary to the core business. Adams writes:
“We encourage applications from companies building a wide range of products, including devices that work with Alexa or have Alexa built-in; software and services that leverage voice technology; developer tools that service voice-first businesses; and core technologies like AI and machine learning that enable better voice experiences. We are particularly keen on startups innovating in education, healthcare, fitness and wellness, enterprise collaboration and productivity, property tech, and AI/ML services – but our final company selection will not be limited to these themes.”
Alexa Accelerator Details
Accelerator leadership from both the Alexa Fund and Techstars will hold information sessions in the U.S. in Boston (March 20), Los Angeles (March 13), New York (March 18, 19), San Francisco (March 11, 12), and Seattle (ongoing). Toronto, Canada (March 21), Madrid, Spain (April 1, 2) and Paris, France (April 3) are the only international sites included this year for information sessions, but the program encourages submissions from anywhere globally. Accepted companies are granted $120,000 investment in return for a convertible note valued at 6-10% of the equity value of the business. The Alexa Accelerator is run in Seattle between July and October and all participants are expected to relocate to the city for the duration of the program. You can learn more about the application process and register for the information sessions here. Key dates in the 2019 application process are:
- April 7 – Application deadline
- July 15 – Program starts
- October 10 – Demo day
Alexa Fund Notches 47th Investment
The Alexa Accelerator is only one vehicle that the Alexa fund uses to invest in the market. Pitchbook shows the Alexa Fund has made 47 investments and the vast majority have had nothing to do with the Accelerator. The most recent investment was in Moj.io, a connected car platform that Alexa Fund had already invested in for a previous round. In November 2017, the Alexa Fund expanded from $100 to $200 million and began looking at more investments outside of the U.S. The fund has over $87 million left to invest according to Pitchbook and you can be sure some of that is already committed to future rounds of past investments. With that said, there is still enough available to make investments in this round of Alexa Accelerator participants and a few more before they will be looking to put together another fund.