Two Canadian startups, EdTech company Yourika, and voice technology startup VoiceHero (co-founded by Next 36 alumni Jacob Chan and Joseph Truong), have been selected to participate in Techstars’ Amazon Alexa Accelerator.
Both companies will join seven other early-stage startups taking part in the program, which based out of Seattle, WA. The 13-week accelerator will give nine startups access to Amazon employees and mentors from Seattle’s artificial intelligence ecosystem as well as Techstars’ incubator network. Amazon and Techstars will invest an initial $20,000 in each startup for six percent common share equity, along with the opportunity for an additional $100,000 convertible note.
“We are beyond excited that Amazon and TechStars, industry powerhouses in their respective fields, are investing in our vision and journey to transform the way generations of students learn,” said Rob Henderson, Yourika’s founder and CEO. “We are being granted rare access to world-class technology, professional networks, and capital through the Amazon Alexa Accelerator. We recognize this is a pivotal inflection point for our company and a massive catalyst for future growth.”
Yourika, based in Kitchener-Waterloo, works with online learning partners to offer an AI-powered, mobile-enabled learning platform that allows students to access personalized tutoring assistance. Founded in 2016, the company’s platform seeks to allow online learning providers to generate better student outcomes efficiently.
VoiceHero began with two friends developing and monetizing Alexa Skills in their university dorm room. After a full year of creating products, Joseph Truong and Jacob Chan identified a difficulty encountered by thousands of voice developers – app discovery and marketing. VoiceHero’s mission is to improve the identification of voice products.
The Alexa accelerator seeks out startups that work with Alexa or have technology with Alexa built-in, such software that leverages voice technology, developer tools that help voice-first businesses, and emerging technologies like AI and machine learning that facilitate better voice experiences. The program began July 15 and will run until Demo Day on October 15.
“There are now more than 80,000 Alexa skills, and companies working with Alexa have created more than 28,000 Alexa-compatible smart home devices, and more than 150 products with Alexa built-in, from headphones and wearables to PCs and cars. Along the way, Amazon has introduced new ways for developers to make money and build voice-first business,” Brian Adams of the Alexa Fund wrote in a blog post. “The Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, is an opportunity for founders from around the world to show off new ideas that push Alexa even further.”
“Voice technology will play an integral role in the way we learn,” said Henderson. “Partnering with the world leader in this field will unlock new and exciting opportunities for our team, our partners, our customers, and of course, Yourika enabled students, across the world.”