Founding a startup is incredibly demanding. The challenges of simultaneously raising capital, hiring and finding product market fit can be overwhelming for new founders. Being a founder in Web3 is an order of magnitude made even more complex with the additional regulatory, business model and technical considerations and risks that come with a nascent industry. However, could we believe advances in AI, in particular conversational AI tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney that can be used by anyone through natural language, can help founders dramatically reduce the time and money to validate an idea, fundraise and go to market?
We often hear the term the 10x developer; the almost mythical elite engineer who’s 10 times better at their job than anyone else. But through AI, we have to ask, are we now entering the era of the 100x founder?
By automating many of the groundwork workstreams and tasks needed to establish a startup, such as conducting market research, pitch deck preparation, branding and even creating a minimal-viable product website or mobile app, AI now offers an affordable assistant without requiring any coding skills.
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Leveraging efficiency to transform the founder journey
Subsequently, we believe AI will be a game-changer for startups, especially at the pre-seed and seed stages where time, money and resources are limited. AI can free up founders and their limited teams to focus on top-line work, whilst lowering the barrier to entry and opening up entrepreneurship to a wider base of non-conventional profiles from around the world.
For founders, AI tools can serve as “co-pilots” to learn from and even brainstorm with through natural conversation, allowing them to have access to a 24/7 expert on anything from a given market all the way through to legal and fundraising, at least in basic form. As an accelerator, you might think we might be somehow worried about that. Ultimately though, our role is to help founders go faster.
Since 2014, our team of experts at Outlier Ventures has been committed to ensuring that founders have the tools they need to boost their businesses and teams. Here are just some of the ways that we see AI reshaping the journey of founding a business:
Desk research: Automating routine tasks, freeing up founders’ time to focus on more strategic priorities. This can be particularly beneficial for early-stage startups that are working with small teams.
Automating pitch deck creation: Helping founders condense their research and proposition into conventional content structures for fundraising.
Branding, content creation and design: Streamlining copywriting and design work, AI enables more scalable and consistent content creation. While AI will not completely automate a content marketing strategy, it can save time in its preparation and automation.
Creating boiler templates: Anything from NDAs to basic employee contracts can be generated.
Accelerating scalability: Scaling operations quickly and efficiently, automating routine tasks and providing insights for better decision-making for effective business growth.
As AI advances, this list of benefits will only increase, leading to exponential growth in productivity levels and creating a plethora of new opportunities for organizations providing AI solutions.
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Redefining the role of venture capital
Having started my entrepreneurial journey aged 18 (22 years ago now), I can’t help but wonder how useful AI tools would have been in the early stages of my time as a founder. The overwhelming and disorienting nature of being a first-time founder, with limited industry knowledge and resources, can be alleviated with the assistance of AI tools. Imagine being able to ask ChatGPT for guidance and having it scour the web to find articles that answer your questions, provide technical expertise, and help you navigate complex industry landscapes. This would have been invaluable to me in my early days, accelerating market research, competitor analysis, MVP testing, and product-market fit iteration in a matter of weeks, without the need for extensive industry engagement or technical knowledge.
Related: 3 Ways to Stop Founder Burnout In Its Tracks
Not only can AI facilitate startups in greatly accelerating product time-to-market, but further, it will likely redefine the role of VC in the startup industry. With less capital needed, traditional VCs may begin to change tact, gearing more towards an accelerator model, moving beyond a sole focus on injections of capital to prioritize training, networking, and expertise. This hands-on approach could revitalize an industry tarnished by previous claims of inadequate due diligence in investment portfolios.
While AI has the potential to transform the founder’s journey by providing valuable assistance, automating tasks, and enabling rapid decision-making, there is still work to be done. We need to have confidence in AI’s ability to perform while respecting our privacy and autonomy. The potential for AI to drastically move the needle for founders is enormous. The challenge now lies in ensuring AI tools are systematically designed with trust at their core.
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