Everything is becoming smart these days, from TVs, to sportswear, to speakers. Google with Google Home, Amazon and the Echo, and even Microsoft with its Cortana powered Harman Kardon Invoke. However, all of these speakers are marketed towards consumers, and some new players are looking to change that. Cam Urban, an ex-program manager with Microsoft Azure, Peng “Michael” Shao, an ex-leader on the cloud speech team at Amazon focused on the voice-activated technology that powers Alexa, and Le “Grace ” Huang, an ex-web developer at Amazon, came together and created Roxy, a customizable voice assistant and touch screen smart speaker for the hotel industry.
Guests can use the voice-activated speaker to do things like order room service, order more towels, valet, and more that would go straight to the front desk, eliminating the need for multiple calls to the front desk, and freeing up time for employees to do more useful tasks.
The company has raised $2.2 million in a seed round, $1 million of which was from Hotel and real estate investment firm AJ Capital Partners. A few months ago they landed a $1.1 million seed funding round led by Betaworks, a New York City startup studio, and Chinese investment firm Genesis Capital. The product is already available in many hotels, including Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Washington, Hotel G in San Francisco, Jupiter Hotel in Portland and Hotel Blu in Vancouver. However, the company does have plans to move beyond hotel chains, expanding to other businesses and maybe even AirBNBs.
Hotels will be able to add specific commands to the smart speakers, likely defined by the type of room the speaker is in. Cam Urban said their business model offers a monthly subscription service along with an initial startup cost, with the average property paying about $20,000 per year.
“Human error drops because everything is logged and gets to the right person at the right time, and then the hotel reduces operational cost and they free up staff time.” said Urban.
Right now it’s not in the company’s plan to sell to consumers, but with Amazon expanding Alexa into the business market, Roxy may have to act quickly if it wants to take its share of the smart-speaker pie.