Venmo & Voice Tales
Big news from Venmo and a spotlight on the voice industry from a conversational designer
Hey everyone! Hope you enjoyed your long weekend and were able to avoid a food coma (I, unfortunately, did not escape this trap and had four dinners in two days 😳).
We’ve got some wins and asks to share, a major fintech breakthrough, and a Reconcile subscriber spotlight in this week’s edition!
Here’s a special thank you to our 21 new subscribers! We’re now a community of over 200 strong 💪🏽
We’re hitting the fundraising trail later this month. If any fintech angel or early-stage fund wants to chat with us, shoot us an email!
We’re looking for a conversational designer to help us refine our Siri experience. We would love an intro to anyone that’s worked on similar voice-first apps and is located in the US, preferably on the east coast.
We’re looking for a content intern to help us scale our newsletter. If you know recent college grads looking for a summer gig, shoot them our way!
Big Fintech News of the Week
Venmo pilots a business profile platform for sole proprietors and side-hustlers to begin selling goods and services within the app.
Whether you’re an artist, selling homemade planters at a craft fair, serving up one-of-a-kind haircuts, selling floral arrangements or mowing lawns, you can now leverage the power of Venmo’s community of more than 52 million users to generate interest, referrals and awareness for your business.
My thoughts in one word: FINALLY! For years Venmo turned peer-to-peer payments into a nearly frictionless experience, and now it’s enabling the same for microbusinesses. Side-hustlers, who traditionally have had trouble with payments and bookkeeping, can rely on Venmo to simplify this for them. Personally, I just ran into this problem over the weekend as I wanted to sell some t-shirts I designed. Instead of using Venmo, which felt unprofessional, I opened an Etsy store.
Here are the full benefits of this pilot program:
Touch-free transactions: Sellers can get paid for transactions with a business-specific Venmo QR Code.
Custom business profile: Business pages can add a profile picture, business URL, and description. Sellers can get discovered via the Venmo social feed when customers share their purchases and inspire their friends to explore their products or services.
Get organized: Track business transactions separately for simple bookkeeping.
Understand your customer: Access transactional insights and customer information.
Reconcile Subscriber Spotlight
This week we’re profiling Brielle Nickoloff, a conversational design expert and product manager at Botmock. You may have heard of her at various Voice summits over the past few weeks (she’s quickly becoming a renowned influencer in this space)!
What are you working on right now?
As Botmock's product manager, my #1 goal is to listen to conversation designers who use our prototyping tool and continually improve our product to fit their needs. It's high time that conversation designers get to use a prototyping tool that works the way our brains work...instead of having to use a code-heavy tool to create chatbot and voice assistant experiences.
What first intrigued you about the voice space?
I was first drawn to this space once I realized that voice-based interfaces have the power to transcend barriers that keep so many people from using technology. In order to write, you need to learn how to read and physically write. In order to use a computer, you need to learn how to read, type, and navigate a mouse. But in order to use a voice user interface (VUI), all you need to know how to do is speak, and listen. We don't even consciously learn how to talk when we're babies —our brains are wired to rapidly learn how to speak and understand the words of those around us. Once voice-enabled interfaces are paired with other types of computer UIs, technology will be so much more accessible to humans. That includes people who have mobility issues (someone who can't write or type), anyone with a sight impairment, and people around the world who speak languages or dialects that have not yet been accounted for on traditional keyboards.
What are your favorite voice use cases?
The ones that are well-thought-out. 😉 It can be tempting to jump into designing or developing a voice experience for any kind of use case since the build tools are available to everyone. I really respect when a rigorous evaluation process is used to make sure that voice really is the best interface to solve this problem **(versus a mobile app, a form on your website, etc). TL;DR the best use cases have nothing to do with the problem or the vertical and everything to do with why voice is the best fit to solve that problem or deliver that delightful experience.
What are common misconceptions around voice, especially around data security?
The #1 question people ask me about voice and data security is, "Is Alexa really always listening to me? Why do I see ads for poodle fingernail clippers on Amazon right after I'm talking about those in my kitchen, where my Alexa is?" The short answer is, smart speakers, don't have the capability to listen to you at all times. False positives happen; they're unavoidable to a certain extent. But your iPhone has access to way more of your data than your smart speaker. I talked about that once here.
As a digital nomad, what advice can you give to others that are tired of living in expensive cities under lockdown right now?
If your lease is up, you've always dreamed of living somewhere else, and you don't need to go back to work until 2021 or ever, now's the best time to pull the trigger. That's what my partner did, and he's glad he's making the best of this COVID situation; we've been able to choose less populated and nature-forward locations like Oregon to stay sane while we socially isolate. Keep in mind that you can negotiate with a lot of Airbnb hosts for longer stays (we've got the price for a month-long stay down by more than 75% in some cases) and you can find other furnished houses and apartments to live using services like Outsite (my personal favorite) and Landing.
What's your dream state vision of the future, five years from now?
Dream state vision: That people like me whose passion lies in fields like writing, theatre, and linguistics are made aware of careers where their talents are desperately needed, like conversation design. If they do become interested in conversation design, they feel empowered to start working on projects and building a career that excites them. That they have access to educational resources and tooling which doesn't require a drop of coding experience. That they're able to design and create products they love within a tooling ecosystem that was designed for the way they think. That they understand why their talents are needed and valued. And that we all expand the meaning of "technical" to include fields like design and content strategy.
What's a piece of advice you recommend for anyone interested in a career within the voice space?
See #6. Just kidding. Don't be afraid to reach out to real people who are doing real things you think you might be interested in. If you reach out to a hundred people, maybe 20 will get back to you, you might click with 5-10 of those, and 1-2 may lead to some opportunity (whether it be co-writing an article, speaking at a Meetup, or getting a job). Come to them with a list of questions so that you both feel like you can get something out of the conversation. Your odds in connecting with some awesome people in voice and conversation design will actually be way higher since the field is so small still and most people are very open to learning with one another.
Thanks for reading!
Jaimin Desai - CEO & Co-Founder of Reconcile
*P.S. If you have any thoughts on our content, please leave a comment or email me at email@example.com!