Voice-controlled devices, like the Amazon Echo, are driving what Abhishek Suthan calls a “tectonic shift” in computing — and he wants to take advantage of it. That’s why he and his co-founder, Dylan Zwick created Pulse Labs, a suite of tools that allow voice developers to test their apps with users.
“Dylan and I have built our careers at the intersection of high-end computing, big data, and human-computer interaction,” Suthan said. “Voice is the most natural way humans communicate, but also the most challenging for computers to grasp today — we solve this problem.”
Before launching Pulse, Suthan spent more than five years developing technology products for Goldman Sachs. Zwick was most recently director of data science for Overstock.com.
“We both love new technology and new ideas, so when we saw the potential of the voice platform, we knew we had to be a part of it,” said Suthan, who serves as Pulse Labs’ CEO. “The voice platform is so nascent that developers and designers are still trying to figure out what ‘good’ sounds like, and the best way to address this need is through a strong, scalable user testing platform.”
Pulse Labs is part of the inaugural Alexa Accelerator, a new program that Amazon is running in partnership with Techstars to support startups developing technologies related to the voice platform.
We caught up with Suthan for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We let voice designers test their skills online with users from their target audience.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We both investigated the voice platform for our jobs and realized both the potential of the platform and the unmet need for usability testing and the insights it provides.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We’re currently bootstrapping and we’re in conversations with VCs and Angels. There’s a major demand in the market right now for what we’re offering and we want to build our product to meet that demand as quickly as possible. We want to pursue the most effective way to finance that.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: The ease with which our customers are able to get insights from their target users and the actionable data that provides.
The smartest move we’ve made so far: Applying to the Alexa Accelerator Powered by Techstars.
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: Not quitting our jobs sooner when we realized the opportunity.
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “We’d like to have all three, but today we’d choose Bezos. Amazon is currently the leader on the voice platform and Jeff Bezos’s extreme customer focus is an inspiration to us, both in our approach to customers and in the tools we provide to help our customers serve their customers.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “We try to hit the gym together every morning. It’s a nice environment away from the office where we can relax a bit and discuss larger ideas, plus it’s a great way to get a jump start on the day.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: An ability to quickly execute on the features that matter and a willingness to do what it takes to get those features built.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “In writing, you’re taught that if you have a scene that you love, but that doesn’t really work for your story, you need to cut it. The same applies to building a product. Too often entrepreneurs waste time building what they want to build, not what the customer wants them to build. Don’t do that!”
Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the nine companies in the Alexa Accelerator leading up to their Demo Day Oct. 17.