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  • Writer's pictureStefanos Christou

Accelerating Your Journey with Generative AI: A Guide for Founders

I have been engaging in conversations with founders from the Global South about the potential of generative AI (GAI) since early 2023. I have observed founders falling into three distinct groups when it comes to GAI adoption:

  1. Ahead of the Curve: These companies have already shipped products or solutions incorporating generative AI. They recognized the opportunity early, possessed suitable use cases for GAI implementation, and had the necessary engineering talent to prototype and produce results promptly. For instance, a farming e-commerce company significantly reduced customer service costs by deploying a chatbot capable of understanding farmer lingo, resulting in a 30% cost reduction with expectations of reaching 50% in the near future.

  2. Fast Followers: These companies are actively watching and prototyping GAI applications but have not yet launched any offerings. They are exploring ways to leverage generative AI to reduce costs and improve processes, such as streamlining blue-collar worker recruitment through AI-driven interview and candidate engagement steps. These companies have the potential for substantial improvements in multiple dimensions.

  3. Late for the Train: This group consists of companies that have yet to incorporate generative AI into their product roadmaps. They may have conducted initial evaluations and planning but lack the knowledge or resources to take the necessary steps. Many of these companies are already burdened with demands from existing customers and need guidance on catching up.

This article aims to assist founders who feel they are lagging behind or are seeking to accelerate their progress in the world of generative AI. By examining examples from all three groups, founders can gain a clearer understanding of their current position. For those who find themselves late for the train, the following five steps will help expedite their journey:

Step 1: Type 1 and Type 2 Generative AI Applications Generative AI applications can be broadly categorized into two types. Type 1 applications involve leveraging generative AI to enhance existing operations, increase productivity, or improve customer interactions. Implementing Type 1 projects on an individual or departmental level is crucial for startups and considered a baseline requirement. However, solely focusing on Type 1 initiatives will not position a company as an AI leader from a venture capital perspective.

Type 2 efforts involve more significant risks but offer greater rewards. These initiatives require companies to develop entirely new approaches to vital aspects of their business, building on generative AI. Type 2 innovation can unlock new markets, create competitive advantages, and redefine value propositions. For instance, a regional B2B marketplace utilizing generative AI to publish information in multiple local languages simultaneously can tap into a vast non-English speaking customer base, providing a faster and more intuitive experience.

Step 2: Getting Your Entire Team on Board To ensure you don't miss the train, it is crucial to align your entire team with your vision. Communicate your intent at a high-level, emphasizing the importance of experimentation and learning. Encourage your team to adopt Type 1 strategies wherever applicable to maintain a competitive edge. Simultaneously, convey the significance of Type 2 initiatives and how they contribute to long-term success. Conduct brainstorming sessions, team meetings, or even hackathons to raise awareness and foster a collective understanding of the value of generative AI.

Step 3: Protecting Your Data from Cloud LLMs Beware of cloud generative AI providers that may inadvertently compromise your data. Guard against the risk of your data being used to train AI models that benefit your competitors or fall into the hands of bad actors. Take precautions to avoid such situations by thoroughly researching and exploring alternative options. Stay informed and act promptly to safeguard your data.

Step 4: Establishing a Red Team for Internal Disruption Disrupting your own business before competitors do is a proactive approach advocated by industry leaders. Form a "Red Team" within your organization tasked with prototyping a new business that aims to attract the majority of your customers within a year. This team should leverage both Type 1 and Type 2 generative AI strategies to create superior offerings. Comprising a capable developer, a data scientist or analyst, and a business development/marketing leader, the Red Team operates independently, unburdened by legacy systems, and empowered by available funding.

Step 5: Measuring and Reporting Progress As with any initiative, measuring progress is essential to gauge success and make informed decisions. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the adoption of generative AI within your company. Measure both activities and results, such as the percentage of the team utilizing generative AI tools for increased productivity and the impact on customer service expenses or conversion rates. Regularly report progress at the corporate and team levels, ensuring trajectories are moving in the right direction.

By following these five steps, you can accelerate your journey into the realm of generative AI. Within a short period, you will propel your team and company into a new world, leaving your competitors behind. Remember, the key to success lies in recognizing the potential of generative AI, involving your entire team, protecting your data, embracing disruption, and measuring progress. Just like Japan's Nozomi bullet train, which revolutionized transportation over 30 years ago, your transformation can be equally impactful and enduring.

Generative AI
Generative AI


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