A year to the day after Amazon revealed the companies selected to participate in the second annual Alexa Accelerator, a 13-week program that grants 10 startups access to Amazon employees and mentors from the Seattle AI community and Techstars incubator network, the tech giant and Techstars today announced the third cohort.
This time around, Amazon and Techstars sought early-stage firms in health care, fitness and wellness, enterprise collaboration and productivity, property tech, and machine learning services verticals. (The first cohort honed in on games and interactive experiences, while the second cohort was largely focused on more practical applications, such as water conservation and accessibility.) Over the course of roughly six months, they narrowed down the list of applicants to nine companies that address challenges in retail, management, education, gaming, and a raft of related segments.
“The 2019 Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, offers another glimpse into how Alexa can make customers’ lives easier, more productive, and more entertaining,” Amazon said in a press release. “[These] early-stage startups [will receive] the support they need to grow their network, gain traction, incorporate Alexa, and engage with investors.”
Companies selected to take part include:
- Ambit.ai: Founded by Greg Lok, Ambit is developing a product that quantifies vocal patterns during team meetings and provides actionable insights and data on how communication behaviors impact team dynamics and business outcomes.
- Anycart: Grocery planner Anycart — which was cofounded by Rafael Sanches, Silvia Curioni, Renato Peterman, and Payman Nejati — lets users search for meals they wish to cook and surfaces relevant recipes, adding the ingredients to their preferred grocery delivery service cart and providing step-by-step video cooking instructions, along with other recipes that can use excess ingredients. It has amassed over 2 million installs and 1 million monthly active users to date.
- Ejenta: Rachna Dhamija’s and former NASA engineer Maarten Sierhuis’ company aims to provide AI-driven remote care technology for the millions of patients living with chronic conditions.
- Ex-IQ: Ex-IQ — the brainchild of Army Ranger and Delta Force Veteran Chris Donohoe, along with Darren Ward — turns digital documents into interactive audio files, allowing students and employees to highlight and tag written content and dictate notes via voice through a mobile app or an Alexa skill.
- Midgame: Jason Shen’s and Wayne Gerard’s Midgame builds video game-specific interactive agents that allow gamers to keep track of in-game activities, query for specific insights, and log achievements hands-free using voice.
- nFlux: Seyed Sajjadi, another NASA veteran, cofounded nFlux with Anton Safarevich and Danny Pena to create a system that ingests large amounts of unstructured data (like video) and generates contextual insights that can be queried through natural language. It has already participated in the Alexa Fellow Fund at California State University, Northridge.
- TogethAR: Former Amazon engineers Elena Zhizhimontova and Andrew DiLosa, who helped launch Alexa on Fire TV, are developing an AI and augmented reality technology that can enrich conversations by presenting relevant information and content pertinent to the topic of the conversation.
- VoiceHero: Amazing Race Canada participant Joseph Truong cofounded VoiceHero with Jacob Chen to build out a suite of tools to launch and market voice skills.
- YourIKA: YourIKA — short for Your Intelligent Knowledge Assistant — was cofounded by University of Waterloo AI Institute codirector Dr. Fakhri Karray, Dr. Shady Shehata, and Rob Henderson with the mission of transforming the way the world learns by using AI to solve the “most significant problems” in e-learning.
The 2019 program will take place between July and October, Amazon says, culminating in a Demo Day on October 15.
The Alexa Accelerator is part of Amazon’s $200 million Alexa Fund, which launched in 2015 and has contributed venture capital to more than 35 startups, including Rachio, Vesper, Owlet, Adero, Ring, Sphero, Twine, and Hatch Baby. Amazon and Techstars invest an initial $20,000 in each company for a 6% equity stake, with potential for an additional $100,000 convertible note.