Yesterday, seven startups from five different countries celebrated the end of the Alexa Next Stage, Powered by Techstars program after eight weeks participating in the startup accelerator.

The Alexa Fund, which provides up to $200 million in venture capital funding to fuel voice technology innovation, and Techstars, launched the Alexa Next Stage program in June 2020. Founders from nine different time zones followed a virtual curriculum designed by Amazon and Techstars to help them grow and understand how to integrate Alexa to evolve and innovate their technology. The program started with sessions focused on voice design best practices and each team had the opportunity to work with mentors, including Alexa solutions architects to help the teams understand the tools and resources Amazon makes available for developers to build exciting Alexa experiences. Startup teams also participated in hands-on workshops that guided companies on how to set up key performance indicators (KPIs), manage sales funnels, optimize marketing, conduct negotiations, and build fundraising strategies.

True to the "give first" Techstars motto, the startups benefited from a group of 100+ mentors from across Amazon and the Techstars mentor network. These professionals, including former or existing startup founders volunteered their time and expertise to give feedback and guide progress throughout the program. Amazonians from France, Israel, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. served as mentors, which is the first time one of Alexa Fund's accelerator programs included Amazon mentors from around the world.

"I was initially skeptical about the new 'all remote' format for this year's Alexa Next Stage cohort. In practice the format had many benefits. Companies were able to tap into the expertise of mentors from across time zones and geographies and gain a more diverse perspective," said Ran Mokady, director for Alexa Shopping in London. "In turn, this accelerated their ability to adapt to the rapidly changing environment. I am excited by the potential of cohort participants and can't wait to see the growing impact they will have over the coming years."

"It feels wonderful to turn the mistakes I made when I was a founder into lessons learned and positives for the companies I mentor," said Kate Edwards, business development manager for AWS Startups and former startup founder. “The growth I've seen across the Alexa Next Stage companies during the program has been transformative, and I can’t wait to see what's next for them."

We are so proud of the progress the participating startups made during the process.

Meet the founders