Editor’s Note: We have changed the name of the Alexa skill in our beginner tutorial from Cake Walk to Cake Time given the term’s racially insensitive history.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of developers building voice experiences for Alexa. While it’s still the early days of voice technology, these developers, brands, and voice entrepreneurs are getting in now to capitalize on Alexa’s reach. For context, customers have purchased more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices, and the number of customers interacting with Alexa daily doubled in 2018.
In a recent conversation I had with Mark Cuban, he emphasized this very point. He said, “Now’s the time to learn it. Now is the time to experiment with it. Now is the time to start using it, because you always want to take your risks when there's the least at stake.”
Mark knows a thing or two about getting in early, making bets, and hitting it big. In the early days of the internet, Mark co-founded AudioNet (later named Broadcast.com), an online audio streaming company, which he eventually sold to Yahoo. You may know him as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, an investor on Shark Tank, and a self-made entrepreneur. He's also passionate about voice, conversational artificial intelligence (AI), and coaching small businesses on how they can leverage AI to get into the game.
We often cover technical implementation and user experience design on this blog, but talking about how to grow a voice business is just as important. With that in mind, I asked Mark about his thoughts on how entrepreneurs should approach Alexa. As you might expect, he was pretty direct and packed a lot of ideas into our time. Our discussion hit on four key points that help illustrate why voice is an important and strategic business investment, why now is the time to engage, and how to frame your thinking as you approach your own business ideas.
Voice is Already a Common, Natural User Interface
While developing with voice is new, for customers, “a voice interface isn't something that's foreign or new to be adopted,” says Mark. Alexa provides a natural user experience where people can say what they want using their own voice. Mark shared how he progressed from asking Alexa simple questions to deep experiences for his whole family and how he sees voice changing the way friends hang out together.
Developers “Have to Be There Early”
As an individual, a big brand, or an indie voice studio, it’s important to stay in front of where customers are headed. Mark says “you have to get in early” and describes how voice is fundamentally simpler and has the potential to shift the way we communicate.
To Succeed in Business, “You Have to Be Brutally Honest”
Having a good idea and even making an interesting experience is not enough. In this clip, Mark talks about how to approach your business and take your ideas beyond a good idea.
“There's No Future That Doesn't Have Ambient Computing or Voice Activation”
Advances in technology and user experiences come in waves. Catching an edge early gives you a head start, and it also gives you perspective that later entrants just don’t have. In this clip, Mark discusses how the current voice economy mirrors a pivotal moment in his career when he caught the Internet wave.
The Future is Voice. Start Building Now.
I really enjoyed this chat with Mark and I left inspired. I hope it does the same for you. I always love to talk to you about your ideas and I can’t wait to hear what you build next. To help you get inspired, check out the stories from Alexa developers who have gotten in early and are already building businesses with voice.
Resources to Get Started with Voice