Despite the popularity of smart speakers, one key function is still unavailable to consumers: the ability to order products through voice. Jetson wants to change that. The company has developed an AI-powered platform that allows businesses to embrace voice commerce. And the company has already secured partnerships with major brands like Postmates and Shopify.
We interviewed founder and CEO Peter Peng in order to learn more about Jetson, the potential for voice commerce, and where he sees the company heading.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Jetson is a “voice-first” marketplace that enables brands of any size to easily start selling their products and services through conversational interfaces.
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
Have you ever tried to order anything on Alexa, Siri, Google Home, or any other voice assistant? The ordering experience is either non-existent or very limited, providing only “single shot” recommendations back to the user. The idea for Jetson originated because I remember trying to order toothpaste on a smart speaker one day and when I said, “Alexa, order me toothpaste.” She only gave me a “single shot” recommendation for a toothpaste I didn’t like and had never heard of. She didn’t ask me which brand or size I wanted, how many tubes I needed, or if I wanted cavity protection or whitening — you know, all of those things that you would find with an eCommerce experience.
I guess I was hoping to have an intelligent “multi-step” conversation with an AI that could help me accurately find, order, and pay for what I wanted.
As the weeks passed, I tried looking for an easy and affordable pre-built solution to help me solve this problem, but I couldn’t find anything out there. It was quite frustrating. So at that moment I set out to build the solution myself, and essentially that was how Jetson was born.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
In 2014 was when I got started working with voice. I was part of the Google Glass explorer program and at my last company our team was first in the world to lock/unlock a smart lock with Google Glass using voice and visual interfaces. Eventually our work with voice led us to a partnership with Amazon where we heavily worked on building an integration into Alexa. This prior work created my passion for the commercialization of AI through voice. I saw that there was a need for a better customer experience when it came to shopping, which is what led me to the creation of Jetson, an intelligent voice commerce platform.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
My vision is to make it easier for the world to buy or book anything using voice.
We believe that Jetson will one day become the world’s next transformational tech company. Our goal is to proliferate the use of AI technology to the masses by adding true utility to the voice assistants and chatbots of today, starting with conversational commerce. Our mission is to create a better tomorrow by helping transition the world from an age of information, to the age of automation where voice becomes the new interface.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
The Jetson team is diverse, bringing together people from all over the world in order to create a technology so valuable that generations to come will benefit from it. Our founder and CEO is a domain expert in emerging technology and is considered a thought leader in the voice commerce space. Jetson also boasts a team of advisors that are experienced executives with deep industry experience as well.
We believe that the Jetson team will be successful because we aim to institute best practices into our design and engineering methodologies. We also focus on helping our employees gain the soft skills needed in order to work with each other effectively. This culture that we have created will allow us to scale tremendously as we start to retain more end users, enterprise customers and raise additional capital to grow the company.
John is a hospitality executive with more than 35 years of experience in the hotel and entertainment industries. Most notably, John served as the President and COO of the Venetian / Palazzo and COO of Gaylord Hotels.
Chris is a highly respected industry analyst, strategist, and technologist and is a frequent speaker and panelist at industry events. His career background includes more than 25 years in engineering, IT, and advisory roles at Goldman Sachs.
Roger Luo PHD
Roger is a top industrial researcher in the field of AI/ML/Data Mining. Roger is currently a research and engineering manager at Snap Inc. and was formerly a senior research manager at Yahoo! Labs.
Brian Garr has spent 22 years building, marketing, and selling AI technologies and solutions, including machine translation, speech recognition, and natural language understanding. He was formerly the CEO of Linguasys, COO of Cognitive Code, as well as Program Director for IBM.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Jetson’s competitors offer voice commerce solutions but primarily focuses on the agency model which requires building custom voice applications for each brand. This “one-off” approach can be very slow and expensive, costing millions of dollars and taking several years to build for clients.
We can compare the voice commerce industry today to the early days of the internet. For example, in the 90’s building your own eCommerce store was very expensive and was reserved only for large companies or well funded startups. But over the years the technology has been democratized and today anyone has the ability to create an online store within minutes using platforms like Shopify, Wix, Etsy etc…
Like Shopify, Jetson’s platform allows for seamless merchant onboarding at scale. Our approach is predicated on lowering the barrier to entry for voice, with turnkey setup in minutes and only costing $49 /mo.
Jetson’s platform has the ability to onboard thousands of merchants without sacrificing the quality of the ordering experience. This is largely due in part to Jetson’s superior NLU (natural language understanding) technology that provides a greater amount of conversational accuracy without the need to heavily train the AI for each merchant. This approach currently does not exist in the market today, in turn providing Jetson first-scaler advantage in the voice commerce space.
Why do you think the market is mature now for mass adoption?
Today, there is a race to voice commerce as businesses are looking for both contactless solutions for their customers post COVID-19 — and there is nothing more “contactless” than voice. With 90 million adults having smart speakers in their homes, mass adoption is inevitable. Additionally, brands are looking for new and emerging sales channels to engage next generation consumers. This is where conversational AI can help them stand apart from competitors by increasing discovery, engagement, and revenue on these new channels. I believe that these two forces combined are a catalyst for the once nascent voice commerce market to finally hit it’s inflection point. The time is now, Jetson can change the world one voice at a time.
What does your business model look like?
In 2020, we adjusted our business model with the goal of bringing more businesses (and therefore consumers) into the Jetson ecosystem. Previously, any businesses listed on Jetson needed to pay a higher monthly fee in addition to licensing and merchant fees. The overall discoverability of merchant products is the company’s top priority moving forward. We now have three service options for businesses:
|$0 per month||$49 per month||One-time engineering fee and monthly fee based on usage|
|Businesses can list their general information, products, promotions, and services on the Jetson platform, making them “discoverable” through various voice channels. This helps Jetson develop their business community and acts as a method to bring future clients onto the platform.||Companies looking to sell on Jetson will need to sign up for Jetson’s base service. This service costs $49 per month (previously $125/mo.) and does not have any other Jetson-related fees. Sellers can process customer payments through the Jetson platform.||The Jetson Enterprise plan enables customers to white-label their voice commerce services using Jetson’s APIs. The enterprise plan also includes revenue metrics and analytics, integration with third-party ERP and PoS systems, and dedicated customer support.|
Currently, Jetson focuses on selling its technology to small- and medium-sized businesses in partnership with various go-to-market companies. It distributes its technology online, through its direct sales force, and through a variety of indirect distribution channels such as value-added resellers and partners.
Jetson currently uses Stripe as a payment facilitator, with merchant fees charged to vendors at the point-of-sale and paid to Stripe. Merchants can set up their Jetson dashboards with their own Stripe account in order to process payments.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Equity crowdfunding fell into our lap as a friend of mine suggested it as an alternative to VCs who thought that voice was “too early.” With most emerging technology companies like AI and robotics, R&D is of the utmost importance. Equity crowdfunding allows us to properly fund these types of companies in a streamlined manner and if it wasn’t for crowd investors innovation would be stifled and move a lot slower for the world. Jetson is a crowdfunding success story, we even oversubscribed our first round which is why we believe that the increase in limit to $5 million by the SEC will be extremely beneficial for companies like Jetson.
Proceeds of the raise are anticipated to go toward payroll expenses (46.50%), marketing expenses (38.81%), and working capital (14.69%).
Payroll Expenses: Approximately 46.50% of the funds raised will go toward employee payroll as the company looks to increase its workforce to better position itself for growth potential. The company plans to build a sales team that would include a director of sales and several sales development representatives. Other key anticipated hires include a CTO, director of marketing, and director of product.
Marketing Expenses: Approximately 38.81% of the funds raised will go toward marketing and public relations (PR) costs. Existing marketing efforts related to content development for SEO (search engine optimization) will increase and paid inclusion advertising will also be used to target online merchants in order to continuously build a leads pipeline for the sales team. Additionally, the company believes building consumer awareness will be crucial in attracting more users to its platform. Jetson intends to gain exposure through paid media channels, such as MSN Money, TechCrunch, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Working Capital: Approximately 14.70% of the funds raised will go towards increasing capital flexibility to facilitate expansion, should market or product opportunities for capital allocation present themselves.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
Investing in Jetson means investing in the future potential of AI. We believe that Jetson is not only a first mover in the voice commerce space but is also poised to become a first scaler as well. Today, Jetson has all of the signs of early traction in order to become the next transformational technology company. From defensive IP to several enterprise partnerships to early revenue, the Jetson’s team understands what it takes to create a market and has successfully crossed the chasm of voice commerce while being a pioneer in the space. Today, there is a race to voice commerce as businesses are looking for both contactless solutions for their customers post COVID-19 along with new sales channels to engage customers in order to build their brand. These two forces combined are a catalyst for the once nascent voice commerce market to finally hit it’s inflection point. The time is now, invest in Jetson AI and change the world one voice at a time.
Reasons to Invest
- Global digital commerce sales are expected to near $6 trillion by 2022, and the voice commerce market is predicted to reach more than $80 billion per year 2023.
- Jetson has previously raised ~$2.8 million from investors and signed partnerships with Postmates, Shopify, Amazon Pay, Chowly, Delivery.com, Nexmo (the Vonage API platform), and Square.
- As of November 2020, our voice-first marketplace has 13,150+ merchants — up from 138 in October 2019 — as well as 1.46 million+ products.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
As a founder my dream is to create the next transformational technology company and would love to take the company to IPO once we get to that stage. That being said, I also want to make sure I provide shareholder value to our investors and as the CEO I want to make the right decision regarding an exit strategy. Being acquired is definitely a possibility and something I’m not opposed to. My first choice is IPO and my second choice is to be acquired (so let’s line up the suitors now) this way can mitigate risk and exit early if the multiple is high enough.
As far as goals go, over the next 3 years our “big hairy audacious” goal is to onboard more than one million end users to Jetson’s platform and look to integrate over 100 top US brands onto Jetson’s marketplace. Additionally, we see Jetson being able to move beyond just food and retail and into new vertical markets and industries where transactions may occur. Our next phase plans include taking Jetson into automotive, banking, media, and telecom industries. Once Jetson has significant traction within the US market, we also aim to expand into new geographies such as Europe and Latin America.
Our long term stretch goal is to capture as much anonymized voice data as possible through Jetson’s initial commercialization efforts within commerce (from all industries). By leveraging this collective data, we aim to create the most intelligent AI in the world which will lead to the rise of AGI (artificial intelligence general intelligence). Jetson’s AGI will aim to have near human-level cognitive capabilities. With this AGI technology, our end goal is to ubiquitously power the “brain” of robotics and other connected devices over time. At this stage, developing a moral and ethical framework in tandem with government organizations to help regulate AI will be key.
We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Peter and his team take the company. Jetson is currently raising on StartEngine.