STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: ALEXA, CAN YOU FIND ME A BETTER ASSISTANT?

Joshua Montgomery, CEO, MYCROFT AI, contributor

By September 11, 2017, 1:56 pm EDT

    MyCroft AI is on a mission to democratize AI personal assistant software. With Siri and Alexa already household names, in addition to Google’s technology, it may seem like they’re in a crowded space. Think again.

    Existing consumer devices have limited applicability in the enterprise space. Further, they’re not customizable, which is why everyone gets to experience the same hilarious Siri errors. MyCroft AI is creating the first truly open-source personal AI assistant, which allows maximum customization and creates a platform for other developers to build off. MyCroft AI won Techweek KC’s launch competition in 2016, and since then have doubled in size and raised more than $2M. “Our community now has more than 1,500 developers who make contributions every single day,” says CEO, Joshua Montgomery. Techweek CEO, Amanda Signorelli, sat down with him to learn more.

    • Amanda: Tell us a little about your company today.

      Joshua: Mycroft is building an intelligent personal assistant for enterprise. We are the open alternative to Siri or Alexa.

    • Amanda: Super interesting – especially since it’s open. What is the hair on fire problem you address?

      Joshua: Voice is the future, but existing technologies don’t protect corporate data. Siri, Alexa, Cortana – they are walled off, proprietary and secretive. Their technologies are locked inside the servers of Silicon Valley.

    • Amanda: How did you discover this problem and why did you tackle it?

      Joshua: We wanted to build a voice assistant and found that none of the existing technology would allow us to build one that worked the way that we wanted it to work. We saw a future where anyone could build a voice assistant to represent them, with unique voices, user experiences and capabilities.

    • Amanda: What’s the size of the problem? How big is this industry?/strong>

      Joshua: $25B

    • Amanda: What are the important trends that will shake up this industry? What will the industry look like in 5 or 10 years?

      Joshua: Voice is coming to every device, every household and every ecosystem – globally. In the future nearly every business will have a voice assistant that serves customers and employees through natural conversation.

    • Amanda: How crowded is the space? What’s your competitive advantage behind your product or service that you believe makes it a winner?

      Joshua: The Silicon Valley majors all have a play in this space – Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Now. We are the open alternative to these technologies – we are working to provide a voice assistant for everyone who ISN’T Google, Apple, Amazon or Microsoft.

    • Amanda: Who are your customers and how do you make money?

      Joshua: Enterprises that need voice technologies like automakers, consumer product companies, apps. We charge an enterprise licensing fee for the software that allows them to run Mycroft at scale.

    • Amanda: How do you attract customers, and how well has it gone? How did you acquire your first customer?

      Joshua: We are being built into the Linux operating system. We have a full sales funnel. Our first customer was a connection from an investor.

    • Amanda: Tell us about raising capital – have you raised? What was the experience like? What did you learn?

      Joshua: We’ve raised just north of $2M from venture investors and angels. The process was straightforward and we’ve seen strong demand both from customers and investors.

    • Amanda: Tell us about you – why are you the perfect CEO for this company?

      Joshua: My last company took on the local cable/newspaper/internet monopoly and still provides the fastest Internet service in our market by a factor of 10x. I’m well suited to taking on industrial giants and building technology that is open and accessible.

    • Amanda: How many people are employed by you today? Are you hiring – if so who should apply?

      Joshua: Nineteen. We are hiring a community manager, enterprise sales person and marketing lead in the next couple of months.

    • Amanda: Three phrases to describe the company culture?

      Joshua: Professional, hard working, fun and fast paced. Not a place for slackers, but a great place for people who want to work with “A” players.

    • Amanda: What would be your company’s mascot?

      Joshua: An image of the full moon.