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Archive for June, 2018

Thoughts Voice Interfaces in Hotels

Last week Amazon announced that they are going to launch a custom version of Alexa for hotels. It’s a really interesting use case because the location helps reduce or refine the number of possible/likely requests the Alexa may get.

The idea there being that for now, voice interfaces will work best in two variations. One being when it has to understand only a few words (volume up, play song, call Mum), the other being when it can understand all words. Anything in between is difficult because you have no physical interface showing you what you can and can’t select/say (a menu).

This is explained well in this article by Benedict Evans.

Benedict also included the Amazon announcement in his newsletter which I forwarded to my partner Ed and kicked off a discussion about why hotels would or wouldn’t be good for Alexa.

Below is my final email response to Ed and his comments in green. Debating this stuff is really helpful and I appreciated Ed’s pushback on my blanket claim that “this is good” because it forced me to explain in more detail why I thought that.

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Hey everyone,

Today is our last day working from our garage/studio that has been home to Joan and Tiller for the last three years.

The move marks a pretty important point in our journey as a company. We’re taking a big, scary, step into a world that has more questions than answers. There is a compass, but no map.

Over the next two weeks, we’re going to begin to attempt to turn Tiller into a legitimate business from something that has been a side project of Joan.

This is starting of course with actually shipping our product to customers. On Saturday, Ed and Nick.J are flying to China to oversee the production of our first 1000 units and once the software is complete, we will be shipping them all over the world.

Once the product is out there Ed and I are going to be doing various in-house contract gigs for clients a few days per week and then spending our remaining time working from home/cafes/friends studios as we try and learn more about the business and sales side of Tiller. Tony has moved back to Sydney and will be continuing to work on the software side of the business from there.

Sticking With It
You read a lot from various people about the value and importance of sticking with an idea long enough to see it work. Tiller is the fourth business I’ve been involved in so far and in all other cases, we’ve launched our product (website/conference or whatever) within six months of coming up with the idea.

In the case of Tiller though, it’s going to be closer to three years from idea to shipping the product. And a lot changes in three years. People fall in love, people get sick, people get job offers, people get tired. And in our case, the people around you also excel. Your friends earn more money, buy houses, get married, have kids and the rest. And when you work on something like Tiller you do miss out on a lot of those things.

Everyone in our company has made enormous sacrifices to get to where we are today. The name of the game now is to stick with it and try our hardest to see if we can, in fact, turn Tiller into something that is bigger than the four of us.

All the feels
I put some stuff on my IG story last night and my inbox was flooded with friends sending 😔sad face emojis. It was nice to see because I was reminded of how many good memories people have had in this studio.

But the emoji that I want to put against today is probably 😊or maybe 🙈or even 👊. Today is an exciting day for me and I think the whole team. It’s the start of a new adventure in the Joan and Tiller story and I’m more than ready for it.

I don’t know what the path in front of us looks like, but I’m not sure I want to either.

Thanks to everyone who has been to one of our parties or has spent time working with us in the space. We’ve loved all of it and are really happy to have shared it with you 🙏.

Ed and I need to start loading up my car with the stuff we’re going to keep and then do a run to the tip with all the things we’re throwing out. There is a painter coming at 2 pm to clean up the walls because large pieces of paint ripped off the walls when we took down all our work #bluetackissues.

Below are some photos from the studio which I like.