Techstars today named Aviel Ginzburg managing director of the Alexa Accelerator, a startup accelerator managed by Techstars and paid for by the Alexa Fund, Amazon’s $100 million effort to support the ecosystem forming around its intelligent assistant.
“You get a powerful, company-changing network and you get a partner like Techstars, with a track record of success, and I think it can fundamentally put some of these companies on a trajectory they would not have been on before,” Ginzburg told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Announced last fall, the Alexa Accelerator is a 13-week startup accelerator that will take place this summer in Seattle. Participants receive $120,000 in exchange for 6 percent of equity. 10 companies will be chosen for the Alexa Accelerator. Applications are due April 9.
If you want to learn more about the accelerator, ask Alexa questions like “What is the Alexa Accelerator?” “What is a startup accelerator?” and “Who should apply to the Alexa Accelerator?”
Ginzburg is cofounder and president of social media analytics company Simply Measured and has been an investor in Seattle-based startups and a Techstars mentor for the better part of the last decade.
“Today, Seattle is known by many in the tech world as Cloud City, but it’s my mission to turn Seattle into Voice City,” Ginzburg said today in a Techstars blog post.
He said he’s looking for Alexa Accelerator applicants interested in connected homes and health and wellness, among other areas.
“I think for me, personally, I’m super interested in some enterprise use-cases, because I think that’s partially an area that’s been largely underexplored to date. A lot of what we’ve seen has been on the consumer side, but I’m interested to see what pops up there,” he said. “I think obviously anything around connected cars and wearables, it’s just such an obvious application for voice really creating a better experience.”
When asked about unexplored frontiers for voice assistants, Ginzburg said that he sees opportunities in hospitality and manufacturing for products with a voice interface.
“What if you fundamentally rethought the health care experience? What if you rethought the restaurant experience? What if you rethought the retail experience in a world where you can be asking questions?” he said. “For me that’s where a lot of this unchartered territory is, and the reality is if I knew the exact right opportunity maybe I’d be starting a company doing that myself.”
Applicants shouldn’t think the only way into the Alexa accelerator is by making an Alexa skill or series of skills. Companies that are imagining better ways to include voice in their products or those making their own intelligent assistant should also apply, Ginzburg said.
“I don’t want everyone coming from the same bubble thinking about things in the same way,” he said. “It wouldn’t be interesting if all we had was a bunch of people doing skills.”
Though Alexa is available in a limited number of countries today, startups from around the world are encouraged to apply. To promote the accelerator, starting next week Amazon and Techstars have events planned to encourage early-stage startups to apply in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston, but also in Tel Aviv, London, and Berlin.
The Alexa accelerator begins July 17. Demo Day will take place in October.