What is the next iteration of lifelike AI voice? Are we pricing and packaging our tools the best way? How should we grow the team for our changing needs?
We ask ourselves questions like these all the time, but sometimes the discussion is better in person. That’s why we decided to gather our increasingly remote team together in WellSaid’s hometown of Seattle, Washington. In person, we were able to connect and focus on the most important question we ask: How do we better serve our customers?
A Distributed Team
Like many software companies, WellSaid has the opportunity to hire the best talent by recruiting experts from all over the country. We started in Washington, but now have employees on the East Coast, Florida, Texas, California, and many states in between. While there are lots of tools and techniques to feel connected as we go through our work week, it’s helpful to get together in person occasionally.
Some WellSaid Lab Team Stats:
- We’ve doubled in size since the end of 2021. That’s a lot of growth! Really, our hiring spree has just started. If you’re interested in working with us, check out our openings regularly for new job postings.
- We’re in over a dozen states across the United States. Not only does this help us have the best talent possible, we also have the ability to be flexible about supporting our customers across multiple timezones.
- About half of us were born in other countries or have English as a second language. This is one of our superpowers! We have perspectives from all over, and a true appreciation for the nuance of spoken language.
We plan to meet physically twice a year, helping us to maintain and build on our close-knit collaboration.
What We Covered in Our On-Site
Our time together was a powerful mix of new information and planning, review and learning, and just plain fun time. During the day, we had multiple sessions each day about a variety of crucial topics to our product. In the evenings, we had team activities like boat outings and ax throwing.
“TTS School” Is Always a Favorite
One of topics we cover regularly is what our Senior Data and Machine Learning Engineer, Rhyan Johnson, calls “TTS (text-to-speech) School.” In this session, she educates us about the evolution of our unique data model that is the reason our AI voices are more lifelike than any others.
Rhyan walked us through how the first versions of WellSaid Voice Avatars were built, and how the Voice team has evolved that technology. She educated us about what is coming in v10 and v11 of our voices, and we can’t wait for our customers to hear them!
An API to Enhance Product Engagement
Our Engineering team is busy making improvements and additions to the Studio, but they also maintain a powerful integration tool, WellSaid API.
For our newer hires, it is crucial to understand the ideal use case and general mechanics of how the API works. Neil Harlow, the engineer who first built our API, led a session on this important information. We also learned from Head of Growth, Martin Ramirez, about the ideal customer for this product.
Ethics and Company Values
At WellSaid Labs, ethics and values are not just buzzwords. We talk about them in every major decision, and even many of the small ones. They are central to in-person discussions, as well as day-to-day operations.
Chief Technology Officer, Michael Petrochuk, and our Voice Program Manager, Sara Weisweaver, led this session. At WellSaid, we have a unique concern about ethical concerns. All companies should consider their values in terms of how they conduct business, but our team has the added responsibility of working with artificial intelligence and protecting our voice actor and listener communities.
Ethical Questions We Discussed:
- What level of content moderation protects our voice actors, while allowing customers to create quality content?
- Are there hiring practices we could implement to continue representing our community accurately? How do we enhance inclusion of every member of our team?
- How do our actions impact not only our internal community, but also listeners, voice actors, and the larger world?
- In what ways can we evolve our pricing, packaging, and marketing to best serve our customers and prospects?
In breakout groups, we examined each of these questions and shared our conclusions with the rest of the team, making concrete plans for growing with our values.
Dedicated to Collaboration
By meeting periodically in person, as we did last week, our team knows that we do the best work when we are connected. Most of the time, we stay connected virtually. But by coming together in person, we reestablish the commitment to supporting each other, creating the best product possible, and empowering our customers.
Curious how WellSaid voice avatars sound? Start a free trial and hear for yourself!