Remember when the sentence, “Artificial Intelligence will be the next big thing!” was very common in the tech sphere? We have finally entered the era where AI is the big thing. There is only one way to go in this field, and that is forward.
With the rising demand for AI products and services, AI companies are popping up left, right, and center. Many entrepreneurs in the CSIT industry are now taking the bold step of venturing towards AI. If you want to follow in their footsteps, we have prepared a handy guide for you.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
If you are thinking about building an AI startup of your own using the limited hence precious resources at your disposal, then you need to be sure about your definition of artificial intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence, more casually known as AI, is a quickly-growing field of Computer Science that deals with programming machines in such a way that they behave as humans do. We have seen, over the years, how everything – every process and task – has been automated. Machines have completely replaced humans in many areas of work. In the same way, with the capacity to think like a human being, the responsibility to make context-based decisions accordingly is also gradually being transferred to machines.
Are You Sure You Qualify as an AI Startup?
If you have been following the AI scene closely, you may have noticed some companies labelling themselves as AI startups but not actually implementing any real AI in their products. Therefore, you need to be careful when referring to yourself an AI company. You must live up to that identity.
Most AI companies focus on and combine concepts such as neural networks, deep learning, machine learning, parallel processing and cloud computing to develop technologies like chatbots, image and speech recognition software, and NLP (Natural Language Processing) algorithms. There are many other areas besides these that you can focus on if you wish to qualify as an AI startup.
Growth in the Success of AI Startups
According to an article published on Business Insider in 2019, there is now an increasing number of startups that are achieving ‘unicorn status’. This status is awarded to startups that reach a worth of USD 1 billion. Quoting a CBInsights report, they state that 2019 alone, 9 startups joined this list, and in the last six years, 45 companies have achieved this status.
In the same report, CBInsights also looked into what kind of funding AI startups have been receiving since 2013. The report states that the 3,600 AI startups they looked into all over the world have raised a whopping USD 66 billion in funds so far. They also found that most companies that were awarded the highest amounts of funding belonged to the healthcare sector. Other top areas were:
- Cyber security
Now would be the perfect time to get into the field of AI, considering the growth rate of this industry from the perspective of entrepreneurs.
Handy Tips for Building an AI Startup
While there is no perfect formula to kick off your career as an AI entrepreneur, there a few tips that may come in handy for beginners.
1. Conduct Proper Research
Before you can start working, you need to come up with an idea. Brainstorming is an important phase regardless of the nature of the project. Once you finalize an idea, the next step is to conduct thorough research on it. You need to know the topic inside out before you can start working on it.
2. Don’t Get Carried Away With Research
R&D is an important part of any venture that one plans on getting into for the longterm. However, make sure you don’t get stuck at this stage for so long that the opportunity to break into your market of interest passes by.
3. Don’t Follow in the Footsteps of Tech Giants
All the tech giants – Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook and many others – are in the process of becoming dominant forces in the AI landscape. Therefore, you need to pick something to work on such that it does not fall under the umbrella of what these big companies have already championed. Target a different kind of audience. Pick your own special area of interest.
Tech corporations usually focus on large-scale solutions that they can offer for mass consumption to a large market segment. Doing the opposite of that would be one way of staying relevant. I would advise you to stay close to the end-user, delivering quick solutions.
4. Hire the Right People
While you might want to think of your startup as a one-person show, that would not be true. Also, it would be impossible to pull off something as complicated and vast as putting together an AI startup without recruiting more people to work with you. AI is a purely technical field that is not bound by factors such as gender, sexuality, race, or even geography. Consider all your options when looking for group members. Find people who are as passionate about this prospect as you are.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Market Yourself
Many tech startups make the mistake of not going for any marketing or sales strategies and plans. Big mistake. No matter what kind of business you do, you need to get it out there into the world. The same goes for tech startups too. Marketing your business is the only way to communicate your message to your target market. Otherwise, you will be lost in the vast sea of countless other entrepreneurial ventures.
6. Be Honest With Your Users
AI businesses rely heavily on data which belongs to their users. Naturally, your clients will worry about the security of their data, along with how exactly it will be used. You must reassure them that you will handle their data responsibly. You also need to let them know what problems you will be solving for them and how. (Pro-tip: Don’t make promises that you know you can’t deliver on.)
Furthermore, every business needs to acknowledge its mistakes. If you go wrong at some point, don’t insult your customers by trying to lie to them or fool them. AI is tricky business. Even big companies admit that. Therefore, if, in the initial stages, you do mess up, let your clients know and reassure them that you will power through the mishaps.
7. Wait Patiently for the Data to Come to You
A major part of the work AI companies do relies on huge amounts of data. The AI models and algorithms that you implement need to be tested and taught how to work based on a given set of training data. You cannot match the level of the amount of data that multinational corporations deal with. So try to get your hands on smaller, already available data sets that will eliminate the cold start problem and help your venture take off in some way. Once you get your initial product version working in the hands of your new users, you can then use it to collect more data as you go along too.
Putting together an AI startup in no small task. It requires knowledge, expertise, patience, and hard work. If you feel that this is your life goal, then the initial work is already done. With the right ideas and the right people, you will overcome half the problems that many other startups face.
Working with artificial intelligence is a tough process, but it is not impossible. It takes a few iterations – some trial and error – before you can get to the perfect solution. So get your team together, promise to not give up, and get to work!