Seattle-based Pulse Labs enables voice app developers to test and analyse their voice-based apps. The startup raised a seed round of $2.5 million last month.
At a glance
Startup: Pulse Labs
Founders: Dylan Zwick, Abhishek Suthan, and Akansha Mehta
Year it was founded: 2016
Where it is based: Seattle
The problem it solves: Testing for voice-based apps
Sector: App testing
Pulse Labs co-founders Dylan Zwick and Abhishek Suthan were exploring the possibilities for voice devices in their previous jobs at Overstock.com and Goldman Sachs, respectively. This got them interested in the space which eventually led the duo to start Pulse Labs with Akansha Mehta. “Our investigations into voice devices at our previous jobs are what initially caught our attention, but the more we learned about the space, the more we wanted to learn about it, and the more we realised how big it would be and what potential there was. We both decided that we'd regret not pursuing the opportunity far more than we'd possibly regret pursuing it. So, we left our previous jobs and founded Pulse Labs,” says Dylan.
Dylan and Abhishek who have been friends for many years now, met through a flyer put up by Dylan looking for an exercise buddy. Dylan shares — “We have an unusual founder story. I've realised that there are two things that tend to make the difference between me exercising and not exercising — I need to exercise first thing in the morning, and I need to have somebody to do it with me. If I don't do it first thing in the morning, then the rest of the day gets in the way, and if I don't have somebody doing it with me, I sleep in. In the last few months, I realised I should probably add a third thing — it helps to not be spending all of your time starting a company! Coming back to the story, my old workout buddy moved away, and so I put up flyers in my building looking for new workout buddies. I said I'd be starting the "Insanity" workout series that Monday at 6:00 am and encouraged anybody who wanted to join me to show up then. Abhishek did, and he kept showing up, and over the years we got to know each other not just as early-morning workout buddies, but as hiking friends, rock-climbing friends, and as just friends. However, Pulse Labs is the first time we've actually worked together. It's working out great so far!”
Pulse Labs offers testing and analytics solutions for developers of voice applications. The startup helps brands understand how real people interact with their voice apps through a rigorous process of live testing and data analysis. Using Pulse, voice app developers can quickly see how consumers want to interact with their app and get data on which prompts work and which don’t. Customers can specify their own testers and use the platform to record user testing sessions for them. Or, customers can specify a target demographic and number of testers, and Pulse Labs will provide the specified number of testers from this target demographic. Testers receive an email inviting them to take the test. The tests are performed on a browser-based voice device emulator, so the testers do not need a voice device to do the testing.
The Pulse team has assisted in the successful launch of more than 20 Alexa skills for top brands. Pulse is extending its product to Google Actions in the coming months. There is currently a waiting list to use the Pulse platform. “If you're building a product on a voice platform, we offer testing with real people, so you can figure out how customers will actually use your product, and make improvements based upon these tests,” said Dylan.
“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,” said Abhishek.
The company was launched in December of 2016, but the team started to focus on it full-time in July 2017 when they began the Alexa Accelerator Powered by Techstars. Last month, Pulse Labs raised a seed round of $2.5 million led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from the Amazon Alexa Fund, Bezos Expeditions, and Techstars Ventures.