VF Conversations: Nick Schwab, Invoked Apps
Nick Schwab is the founder of Invoked Apps -a voice-first software company focused on the creation, design and deployment of voice apps for Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. He is best known for his "Ambient Sounds" app series, which helps over 2,000,000 monthly unique users sleep, relax, or focus using their voice assistant devices. In addition to running his successful voice app business, Nick also works as a full-time Senior Engineer at Ford Motor Company. A forward thinker and a leader in voice-app development, he is passionate about building towards a voice-first future and has been recognized as an Amazon Alexa Champion and Google Developer Expert.
Nick Schwab, founder of Invoked Apps, talks about what motivates him to create for voice, why we should be leveraging voice technology and the importance of building thoughtful and efficient voice experiences.
0:01 - 0:15
My name is Nick Schwab. I'm the founder of Invoked Apps - a voice first software company best known for these sleep sounds series on Amazon. Alexa, Google assistant, and Samsung Bixby, which helps over 300,000 people fall asleep, relax, meditate, or focus every single day.
0:16 - 0:55 → What motivates you to create for voice?
The motivation for creating for voice at Invoked Apps is...is really the consumers. Myself, I had a problem that I was experiencing falling asleep and staying asleep cause I had a noisy neighbor in my apartment. So I created this skill to help me stay asleep by just playing a loop of rain sounds, right. By doing that, I was solving a problem in my own life and it worked really well. So I published it to the skill store, and it just so happens that a lot of other people had that same problem. So I saw thousands and thousands of other consumers starting to use my skills, and I'm getting emails from them saying that I'm helping them fall asleep and staying asleep. So that kind of feedback, uh, just the, the proof that I'm helping people literally worldwide fall asleep and stay asleep is why I'm heavily invested in voice.
0:56 - 2:14 → Why should we be leveraging voice technology?
The best motivator and example in my own life of why we should be leveraging voice technology is that voice is ageless. It has no biases. For example, I gave my late grandfather when he was 90 years old an Echo Dot.
You know, this guy, he lived through the entire evolution of computing. He saw mainframes, he saw desktops, laptops, cell phones, PalmPilots, smartphones, right? The whole evolution. And you know, even though he saw that evolution, he wasn't able to actually interact with that technology in an efficient way. So when he wanted to check his email or the news or the weather or get the sports score of the Detroit Tigers, it would take him, you know, between like 15 and 30 minutes to do all these things.
So when I gave him the echo dot and I said, hey grandpa, all you have to do is ask, say, "Alexa, what's the score of the Detroit tigers game?" He did it and he instantly got an answer. Like he literally got an answer to that question faster than a millennial on a smartphone. Like it's game changing. He's now able to access information. That he otherwise couldn't or would take him an extremely long time to do it. And when he did that, he just had a huge smile on his face. And every time somebody came to visit him, uh, that, that smile would come back. And he would just need to demonstrate to that person who visited him, the power of Alexa and the new abilities that he could do using the power of voice.
2:15 - 3:14 → What advice would you give to aspiring voice developers?
If I wanted to offer a tip to any aspiring voice developers or any experienced voice developers, I would say put your consumer first. Absolutely. Um, you know, making sure that they're getting a great experience is a key factor to success. Without happy customers, your business is pointless, right? Like if they don't love your product, if they don't love you as a business, then why wouldn't they just go to a competitor who offers a product for cheaper? Or even if it's the same price just a slightly better experience? Why wouldn't they move?
So putting the consumer first is extremely important and making sure your voice experiences are really thoughtful and efficient. You know, when it comes to interacting with voice technology, at least personally, I found that you want to get to the content that you're looking for extremely quickly. You're usually not interested in diving into deep voice menus or detailed instructions on how to use a skill. It's just something where, you know, efficiency and equality are key factors in building a voice product.