As voice-enabled applications continue to proliferate everyday life, developers need a robust user testing platform — and Pulse Labs has an answer.
The Seattle startup today announced a $2.5 million seed round led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Bezos Expeditions (Jeff Bezos’ investment arm), Amazon’s Alexa Fund, and Techstars Ventures.
Pulse Labs connects voice developers with appropriate users who can test their Alexa apps, offering a way to assess how real people interact with their technology. It provides data to clients that show, for example, which prompts work and which don’t.
The 3-person company was part of the inaugural Alexa Accelerator, a Seattle-based program that Amazon runs in partnership with Techstars to support startups developing technologies related to its voice platform. Pulse Labs works with Alexa apps and will soon add functionality for Google Actions.
Startup Spotlight: Pulse Labs makes it easy for voice developers to test their Alexa apps
Abhishek Suthan, Dylan Zwick, and Akansha Mehta are Pulse Labs’ co-founders. Suthan previously spent more than five years developing technology products for Goldman Sachs. Zwick was most recently director of data science for Overstock.com. Mehta has global B2B sales leadership experience.
“Developing apps for voice is a significantly different process than app development on other platforms — as our workflows and interactions shift away from more traditional platforms and mediums, consumers have different expectations regarding how an app responds, and designers will need to understand this change,” Suthan said in a statement.
Pulse Labs previously raised $120,000 as part of its participation in the Alexa accelerator; Amazon’s Alexa Fund, used to support companies in the accelerator, is making a follow-on investment in Pulse Labs.
Rodrigo Prudencio, who helps manage the Alexa Fund for Amazon, noted in a blog post that “finding testers at scale and being able to quickly analyze their feedback in a way that informs skill development, can be challenging, particularly if you are building for audiences in varied locations, languages, or with broad interests.”
“When we met the Pulse team last year, we knew they were building something special,” Maria Karaivanova, principal at Madrona Venture Group, said in a statement. “Their success in working with companies, brands and agencies prove there is a clear need to understand how real people interact with the ever increasing number of voice powered smart devices in their lives.”
The voice assistant and smart home market has emerged as a key battleground in the tech industry, with Amazon and Google both aiming to get into your living room. That market is growing quickly, with analysts at the Canalys research firm projecting more than 56 million smart speaker shipments in 2018, the majority in the United States.