Founded by Gregory Lok and Arjun Sundararajan, the SF-based startup claims its app will help professionals improve their emotional intelligence—which some would say is dearly lacking in tech. Ambit accomplishes this task by tuning into conversations happening in the office, such as a meeting, and using voice analysis to construct a review of how the conversation went. Once analyzed, a curriculum to improve listening and talking skills is created. One of the app’s goals, according to Gregory Lok, is to “give everyone an executive coach.”
“A big part of what [executive coaches] do is actually sitting around and observing how people and leaders operate and communicate in meetings and then providing feedback,” Lok explained to Crunchbase News. “So what we’re trying to do is… automate some of that process by essentially giving everyone a tool that analyzes how they talk and listen in certain circumstances and align that to specific goals that they have.”
But in an era where online privacy rights are coming into focus, it may be a bit concerning to know that a boss or colleague is using an app to analyze a professional conversation. However, according to Lok, “as a default, [Ambit is] not storing any audio from anybody for playback.” Lok also noted that the app will only listen to the user of the app.
Of course, to do this successfully, it’s going to take no shortage of expertise in voice analysis. Thankfully, Ambit has roots in the sector as a result of its relationship to SRI, which birthed Apple’s Siri. The firm also has the backing of Romulus Capital, an investor in voice recognition startups Cogito, Humanyze, and Ginger. According to Lok, it was this portfolio that made Romulus Capital a “home run” as an investor. The seed-stage startup also managed to grab Christopher Mahoney—formerly the head of product at FitBit—as Ambit’s chief product officer.
Overall, the startup hopes to maximize empathy in leaders and turn it into a concrete skill. If Ambit will be able to accomplish that with more data and an app is hard to discern. Voice recognition, in many ways, is still in its infancy. (Siri has quite a ways to go.) However, Ambit joins a crew of startups aimed at building businesses that improve how people interact with the world, rather than building distractions from it.
Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias