Roxy to build Alexa-like voice devices customized for business

Roxy, a Seattle startup that offers a customizable voice assistant and touchscreen smart speaker for the hotel industry, has raised $2.2 million in a seed round. AJ Capital Partners recently invested $1 million and Cooper Manning put in another $100,000. The round also includes $1.1 million raised earlier this year from Betaworks, a New York City startup studio, and Chinese investment firm Genesis Capital, among others.

Guests can issue commands through the voice-activated speaker, to order roomservice, get more towels, and other typical hotel tasks. Roxy then relays the message to the front desk without anyone having to make a phone call.

Roxy works with hotels to add custom commands that are easier for guests and plan for more comprehensive capabilities than other speech-enabled assistants. The company also recently added a “small talk engine,” that can conduct basic conversations and help get people up to speed about Roxy’s capabilities, Cam Urban, one of the co-founders of Roxy told GeekWire.

“How to properly educate guests is actually the most important thing we’ve learned so far,” Urban said. “In many hotels, this will be the first speech-enabled device a guest interacts with and they may only be staying in the hotel for 18 hours. It’s key to get education right immediately when guests encounter the device for the first time.”

In addition to the focus on hotels, Roxy can do other things typically associated with smart speakers, such as music, weather, alarms and timers. In recent months, Roxy has upgraded the devices speakers and added an activation button that can be used in lieu of the wake word.

The device today is live in numerous hotels, including Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Wash.; Hotel G in San Francisco; Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Ore.; and Hotel Blu in Vancouver, B.C.