Surveys and smart speakers: 2 Seattle startups that just nabbed vc backing

Feb 19, 2019

Builtinseattle.com February 13, 2019

Seattle tech’s funding-filled start to the year continues apace this week, with two more startups announcing investments today.

Having proved their technology and wooed investors, employee feedback automation startup Polly and audio technology company Tectonic Audio Labs announced fresh funding today — along with plans that could radically change their respective industries.

Here’s what you need to know:

Polly

With teams increasingly dispersed across time zones, collaboration in the workplace is moving onto virtual platforms like Slack, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. And while remote workplaces have opened up all kinds of lifestyle opportunities (whether it’s working within earshot of a tropical beach or setting a world record for consecutive days spent in sweatpants), workflows can become slightly disjointed and lost amid the digital banter and corgi GIFs.

However, a Seattle-based startup has just raised $7 million to give companies visibility into how workflows perform on these new platforms. Pollyintegrates surveys within Slack, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams to measure and solve pain points that hamper workflows on these platforms. Businesses can evaluate employee experiences with company onboarding procedures, IT help desks and Slack adoption, and build customized and automated surveys to collect feedback on any workflow within an organization.

Madrona Venture Group led the round, with participation from the Slack Fund, Amplify Partners and Fathom Capital. Polly plans to use the new cash to expand its product and go-to-market teams.

“Polly fills a need that teams across an entire organization have,” co-founder and CEO Samir Diwan said in a statement. “They want to understand how employees are working together, what they think the right direction for a product or process is, and how well the company is working as a whole.”

The company tripled its user base and launched a version of its service designed for enterprises in 2018, Diwan added.

Founded in 2015, Polly graduated from Techstars Seattle in 2016, when it raised $1.2 million in seed funding.

Tectonic Audio Labs

Meanwhile, audio technology company Tectonic Audio Labs announced a $6 million Series B round to fund its expansion into the smart speaker market.

Founded in 2011, the company uses bending wave technology to produce high-quality sound in a variety of environments that tend to struggle with acoustics, like homes and automobiles. The technology was originally developed by the British Ministry of Defense but has been commercialized by companies like Tectonic to replace traditional speakers — which produce sound by moving back and forth like a piston — with a loudspeaker that produces sound through “complex bending wave vibration patterns.”

Kirkland’s WestRiver Group and Seattle-based Delafield Hambrecht co-led the round, which brings Tectonic Audio Labs’ funding total to $8.8 million.

The company is headquartered in a Woodinville workshop, but has several offices distributed worldwide.

“Tectonic’s focus on improving audio intelligibility in the IoT/Smart Speaker market has firmly established them as a leader in this growing space,” Delafield Hambrecht President J.D. Delafield said in a statement. “The team will continue to deliver impressive applications for consumer electronics, headsets, soundbars, TVs and, most recently, the automotive markets.”

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