6 ways AI can help launch your next business venture

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For technology professionals with a working knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI), opportunities for new business launches abound. You can build and leverage AI for an employer or use the technology on your own, either as a new venture or a side hustle.

AI is at the core of the next generation of startups, achieving their nimbleness and disruptive advantage by moving new business ideas from ideation to market at a vastly accelerated rate. Tech professionals can play a vital role in building and launching this new generation of AI-enhanced businesses. 

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We’re at a point where innovation driven by AI is taking off, and this shift means a world of opportunities for startups delivering AI services, said Sarah Wang and Shangda Xu, both with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. 

“We believe that AI startups who build for enterprises’ AI-centric strategic initiatives while anticipating their pain points, and move from a services-heavy approach to building scalable products will capture this new wave of investment and carve out significant market share,” they predicted.

Examples of AI products or services that can be delivered by startups include “tooling that helps with fine-tuning, to model serving, to application building, and to purpose-built AI native applications,” they said. 

Here are some considerations, shared by industry leaders, for professionals who want to build a business using AI.

1. A deeper understanding of the customer

The strength of an AI-fueled startup is the ability to understand the customer more deeply. For startups of new business ventures delivering more mainstream services — such as manufacturing, health products, or travel assistance — AI plays a vital role in the most important function of all: understanding the customer. 

First and foremost, there’s the customer who provides the reason for the business venture in the first place. “Understanding and engaging with customers is key to business success. AI-driven analytics provide deep insights into customer behavior, enabling businesses to tailor their products and services to specific needs and outcomes,” said Bob Lamendola, senior VP of technology and head of Ricoh’s North America digital services center. 

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“AI can play a significant role in developing new business concepts that can lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, which are critical components toward building relevance in a competitive market.”

2. A digital management consultant

Typically, startups can’t afford management consultants who may charge vast sums to dispense advice on finances, marketing, or distribution. However, the arrival of AI-based agents may provide low-cost assistance that draws upon learning across industries. 

Also: How ChatGPT became my virtual assistant for a data project

“Think of AI as your digital management consultant,” said Arina Curtis, CEO and co-founder of DataGPT, whose own business launch involved a conversational AI tool. “It’s fantastic for digging through vast amounts of online data, pulling out critical insights, and suggesting strategies. This is valuable, especially in well-established industries where one can use AI to dissect and understand what the top players are doing.” 

3. A tech assistant for startup founders

Startups no longer require large collections of tech talent to piece together AI support — at least not at the start. “The most striking aspect is how AI enables founders to launch businesses with fewer hires and resources,” said Kian Katanforoosh, lecturer at Stanford University and CEO and founder of Workera. 

An entrepreneur — technical or non-technical — can launch a business without the need to search for technical talent and partners. Product or service design can now be conducted using natural language processing through generative AI “rather than code,” he added. This approach helps reduce the need to acquire valuable technical talent and cut the demand for seed capital or personal investments before an offering is conceived and marketed. 

4. A way to think big 

AI can direct everything from production-level control systems to executive decision-making. “It’s not just about automating tasks,” said Curtis of DataGPT, whose own business involved the launch of a conversational AI. “It’s about creating new opportunities, redefining roles, and reshaping industries.” 

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AI “is more than just a technological upgrade; it’s a strategic overhaul,” said Curtis. “AI is enhancing operational efficiency and revolutionizing customer experiences. We’re talking about creating products, services, and business models that were unimaginable before AI came into the picture.”

5. An idea generator

ChatGPT has become a popular tool for entrepreneurs “for its capability to generate internet-savvy business ideas,” said Antonio García, chief innovation and strategy officer at TXI. “Imagine an entrepreneur deciding to start a print-on-demand T-shirt business. With AI like ChatGPT, they can transition from idea generation to practical execution, receiving guidance on design, marketing language, and even production intricacies.”

However, AI goes further. Garcia cited advanced ideation platforms, such as MIT’s Supermind Ideator, which “exemplifies AI’s potential to not just generate ideas but to refine and deepen them, acting as a digital incubator for nascent business concepts and other challenges. AI, in this context, is more than a tool; it’s a collaborative partner in the entrepreneurial process.”

Right now, generative AI is “akin to an enthusiastic, highly capable intern — quick to engage but still learning the nuances of complex problems,” he said. AI’s “true power lies in its ability to rapidly generate a plethora of business ideas, critically evaluate existing concepts, and align new ideas with vast repositories of existing knowledge.”   

6. A rapid path to automation

Automation has long offered ways to offload time-consuming mundane tasks and save labor costs. AI takes this capability to the next level, enabling startups to scale as rapidly as larger organizations. 

“Automation through AI not only slashes operational bottlenecks but also levels the playing field for budding entrepreneurs,” said Steve Thompson, chief learning officer at 5app. “From automating routine tasks to facilitating advanced data analytics, AI empowers startups with the efficiency and adaptability crucial for navigating the complex business landscape.”

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