Amazon Picks 7 Startups for First Black Founders Build with Alexa Cohort
Amazon has chosen seven startups for the first Black Founders Build with Alexa cohort. Alexa Startups and the Amazon Alexa Fund are jointly running the four-month program for Black-founded startups developing voice and AI products, each of which will have an opportunity to score up to $100,000 in investment from the Alexa Fund in addition to the program’s other benefits. investment and other benefits.
Black Founders Build with Alexa
Amazon worked with the Black millennial media brand Blavity to help coordinate the search for applicants. All of the chosen startups successfully submitted an Alexa Skill proposal and passed interviews with the Alexa Startups Business Development and Solution Architect teams. The cohort’s Alexa innovations and potential in voice AI and related experiences earned them their spot.
“All the startups selected have a pretty compelling use case and growth potential. I’m excited to see the variety [in the cohort],” Alexa Startups’ head of business development Liz Myers told Voicebot in an interview. “Each startup will receive individual tech support and guidance according to their business. They’ll be working with Alexa to get them to a customer-facing launch.”
The four-month program also includes sending invitations to the startup founders to speak at events, participate in showcases, and otherwise have more access to Amazon and potential investors. Myers sees the program s a good way to begin long-lasting relationships with potential investors and customers for the startups, something that is especially crucial when it comes to addressing disparity in venture funding and other investment. Black founders only receive around 1% of VC investor funding, to Accenture.
“I’m hoping this is the first of many ventures in this area,” Myers said. “I see this as a see continuation of ways Amazon is amplifying Black voices with a whole host of programs.”
The startups chosen for the cohort represent a very broad array of voice and AI tech applications including enterprise and consumer apps. The tech addresses verticals ranging from education and healthcare to real estate, haircare, and e-commerce. That’s a reflection of the shift in how people working with Alexa and voice technology discuss its potential and where it can be applied, Myers explained.
“Over the six years I’ve been at Alexa conversations have evolved greatly. It used to be asking how Alexa can help me or help my partners,” Myers said. “I think it’s moved from that sort of R&D to ‘we know [Alexa] will help, help us figure out ways to do that.’ It’s shifted from a question mark to a more specific discussion of how.”
The seven startups in the first Black Founders Build with Alexa cohort include:
- DOSS Group Inc.: Developer of a voice-activated intelligent assistant for real estate.
- Kiddie Kredit: An ‘activity management tool’ to teach children about credit.
- moment.ai: Vehicular AI monitoring system to improve driver safety.
- MYAVANA: Beauty technology company with AI-powered personalized hair care guidance.
- One Stop Wellness Inc.: Health literacy platform for companies to incentivize employees in finding and following better health practices.
- PayTalk: Voice commerce engine from the Wiscount Corporation to simplify transactions securely by voice.
- Seam Social Labs: Survey and data collection platform using natural language processing tools to gather information.