At Amplify, we often work with founders who are addressing “pains” for developers, data scientists, SREs, CISOs, and enterprise adopters of all shapes and sizes. Almost universally, we use the term “pain” metaphorically, but when we met Tommy MacWilliam and Matt Wiethoff, we encountered two immensely gifted founders who were quite literally alleviating physical pain for millions of developers. Their product, Serenade, is the world’s fastest, most accurate speech-to-code engine, allowing developers to program entirely with their voice. As soon as we saw a demo, we realized Serenade would not only change the lives of developers who are sidelined by carpal tunnel and other repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) — but also fundamentally change the developer workflow forever.
The founding story for Serenade reads like a startup hero’s tale: it all started when Matt, who was a machine learning engineer at Quora, had to quit his job due to a debilitating repetitive strain injury which made it so painful to type that he could no longer work. Matt was determined to figure out a way to regain his productivity, so he started looking for alternatives but was unsatisfied with the current offerings, which were brittle and inaccurate. Matt realized he’d have to rely on himself to build something great, but first he called on his former colleague, Tommy MacWilliam, who was Head of Platform Engineering at Quora at the time.
When we met Tommy and Matt in August 2019, what they demoed to us felt like magic: an AI engine that eliminates the rote mechanics of programming for any popular language and across any editor. While GPT-3’s early demos have gotten a lot of buzz, they didn’t compare to Serenade’s ability to build complex, production-ready apps. Serenade is also a feat in ML engineering. Typically, transformer models like the ones that power Serenade are so big they overwhelm the hardware they run on and introduce latency. However, using the latest research in ML and systems engineering, Tommy and Matt have made Serenade lighting-fast with speed in the milliseconds. And as the world becomes deskless, we believe that the keyboard and mouse interface will erode over time.
And we weren’t the only ones blown away. In our diligence, it became clear that Tommy and Matt were addressing a massive underserved market opportunity for millions of developers who had been waiting for a solution. From an enterprise perspective, software accessibility was a giant macro trend that was top of mind for every buyer. Since its inception, Serenade’s closed beta community has grown rapidly, and the average developer in Serenade’s community uses 1000s of voice commands every day to write code. Serenade also has both a Chrome extension and a programmable API, which developers can use to build their own custom workflows and share them among each other, creating powerful network effects.
Finally, Tommy and Matt embody the canonical Amplify founder: brilliant practitioners and technical domain experts who work relentlessly to solve a problem that was born out of a deeply personal experience. More so, they do it with humility and joy. To be frank, we don’t think we’ve ever gotten more positive references on a founding duo. So with that, we’re so excited to lead their seed round and support them in their mission to give all developers a voice!