William Tunstall-PedoeJul 5, 2021
Alexa, Add Champagne to My Shopping List
A Discussion with William Tunstall-Pedoe, Entrepreneur and investor
New Books Network 2021
In part one we are fascinated to learn how the hugely successful, artificial intelligence entrepreneur, William Tunstall-Pedoe developed anagram-generating AI to solve cryptic crosswords and how he was inspired to become the sole founder of the Cambridge based start-up Evi in 2005. As the architect, William tells us how he steered a course from family investment through multiple venture capital rounds to the final pivot and the origins of an own brand, consumer product with Alexa and Echo. Acquired in 2012 by the multinational, technology giant Amazon as a major competitor for Apple’s Siri, William explains how the move from independent to Amazon executive fitted him and the product well.
About William Tunstall-Pedoe
William Tunstall-Pedoe is a British entrepreneur focused on Artificial Intelligence and other deep technology. He is based in Cambridge, UK and London but also frequently in Toronto and both coasts of the US. (LinkedIn) His biggest recent achievement was founding the British company Evi (formerly True Knowledge) in 2005. After seven years running the business as a venture capital backed start-up, Amazon acquired it in 2012 and its AI technology, platform and team were used to create Alexa. For more than three years he had a senior role in the team that defined, built and launched Amazon Alexa and the Amazon Echo product (the initial Alexa device). Evi is now a subsidiary of Amazon and a large development centre employing many hundreds of scientists and engineers. After a decade since founding the company and with everything he hoped to achieve delivered successfully, he made the difficult decision to leave Amazon in February 2016.
William now spends much of his time helping and investing in other AI startups. He has personally invested in more than 60 such businesses (see his angellistprofile.) . He is a full member of Cambridge Angels and a fellow of the Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto. He is also thinking gently about what to do next – which will likely be founding another AI-based startup.
Produced by Mark Cotton, Twitter.
The NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership podcast aims to educate and entertain, sharing insights based on the stories of carefully selected guests - entrepreneurs and leaders - in the atmosphere of an informal conversation.
About Peter Cowley
Peter Cowley, a Cambridge university technology graduate, founded and ran over a dozen businesses in technology and property over the last 40 years. He has built up a portfolio of 75 angel investments with nine good exits (including one that is 107X his investment and returned all the cash he has invested) and thirteen failures. He is a board member of the Global Business Angel Network (GBAN), President Emeritus of the European Business Angel Network (EBAN), former chair of the Cambridge Business Angels and was UK Angel of the Year 2014. He has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs and is on the board of nine startups.
In 2011, he founded and ran Martlet: a Corporate VC, investing (currently £10M) from the balance sheet of Marshall, a £2.5bn revenue Cambridge engineering company. He is a fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Cambridge Judge Business School and is on the investment committee of the UK Angel Co-fund. He has also had 16 years’ experience as chair, treasurer and trustee of the boards of seven charities.
With his son, Alan, Peter is sharing his and others’ experience and anecdotes in order to educate angels and entrepreneurs via The Invested Investor which publishes two books and 75+ podcasts. A selection of Invested Investor podcasts are republished here on the Entrepreneurship and Leadership channel on the NBN. This is one of them. Peter is a public speaker on entrepreneurship and angel investing throughout the world. Here's Peter on Linkedin.