Interview with Storyline co-founder and CEO Vasili Shynkarenka

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The best way to predict the future is to create it
Alan Kay

What is Storyline?

Storyline is a tool that makes it easy to create Amazon Alexa skills without writing code.

❱❱ Hier ist  die deutsche Version❰❰
Why did you start to create the platform?

Vasili Shynkarenka

We’ve been working in the field of conversational interfaces for three years already. Previously, I was a COO in a chatbot startup, and then two years ago we founded a company called BotCube. At BotCube, we were building chatbots and voice apps for brands and businesses in Europe.

During those times we found that building Alexa skills is a 2-step process and not many people can do both steps well. You have to (A) create compelling content (scripts, conversation, wording, pauses, etc.) and (B) you have actually to code the skill. It is super hard to go back & forth between these two modes because developers usually don’t understand how to write good conversations and good writers are often non-technical.

We believe that the voice market is going to be massive and the primary use case for voice apps is going to be content. That’s why we founded Storyline – we give creative people an ability to create voice apps without any development included.

Why is Storyline special?

Most people think of Alexa as another software platform, like the smartphone, or the web. That’s not true. The most popular apps on Alexa are not apps that allow you to chat with friends or browse your social networks.

The most popular apps are content apps. The apps that play you soothing music, when you are tired. The apps that you can use to play trivia games with your family over dinner. The apps that can read your kid a story, when she goes to bed. Our unique insight is that these applications are really just content. And you don’t need to be an engineer to create these types of apps. Alexa is going to be a platform that’s dominated by great content creators, and Storyline will power all their apps, just like YouTube powers videos.

Do you have competitors?

There are a couple of prototyping tools on the market, but we’re the only live product that allows creating skills for Amazon Alexa. Prototyping tools are great to play with and explain ideas, but it’s super hard to retain users by being a prototyping tool – because they use the product to prototype and then that’s it. With Storyline, people will stay throughout the process of launching and iterating upon their voice app. We are going to use the data from when the skill is published to improve the design of the skill.

Do you create skills yourself?

We do, I’ve personally built and launched 20 skills so far.

Why?

I think it’s very similar to why people create products in the first place. It’s a fantastic feeling when you can create something, it works, and people use it. Interestingly enough, my most popular skill Brain Healing Sounds I’ve built for myself.

Tell more about your community. Who are your users?

Non-tech people who want to leverage a new platform while it’s early. The #1 Alexa skill for kids, Kids Court, was built on Storyline by one woman [read our interview with the creator of Kids Kourt Adva Levin – bf ] without writing a single line of code (and it was her first Alexa skill). We have some big brands (news magazines, radio stations, podcast creators) using Storyline too.

What are the most exciting skills you love to use? Why?

I love sounds and bedtime stories – they’re easy to use, and the experience is excellent.

How do you see the future of user interfaces and what is your role in it?

There’s a quote by Alan Kay about that: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” We see Storyline as a product that powers all content for smart speakers, just like YouTube powers all videos.

How to start with the platform?

Go to getstoryline.com, sign up, and Storyline will take it from there.

Join Storyline Community on Facebook – there we share best materials, tactics, and strategies for creating engaging Alexa skills.

Yes! And you can find Vasili there too.
Thank you a lot for the interview, for the Storyline and for the best community support there!

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