The Art of a Good Unicorn | Here's how Gen AI could reshape your business - Hindustan Times
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The Art of a Good Unicorn | Startup founders, here's how Gen AI could reshape your business

ByShrija Agrawal
Nov 27, 2023 08:30 AM IST

The viral sensation of ChatGPT has triggered a surge in research and development and inspired entrepreneurs to build businesses around generative AI.

Late 2022 seemed to be a watershed moment in the advent of AI and generative AI. OpenAI’s ChatGPT was released to the public, allowing anyone to experience the power of generative AI firsthand. It quickly became a viral sensation, with over 1 million users signing up to use it in its first five days. Users were amazed by ChatGPT's ability to generate human-quality text in response to a wide range of prompts, from writing essays and poems to translating languages and answering questions in a seemingly comprehensive and informative way.

As AI companies in India continue to innovate and collaborate, they could stand on the precipice of generative AI's future. (HT File) PREMIUM
As AI companies in India continue to innovate and collaborate, they could stand on the precipice of generative AI's future. (HT File)

Late 2022 seemed to be a watershed moment in the advent of AI and generative AI. OpenAI’s ChatGPT was released to the public, allowing anyone to experience the power of generative AI firsthand. It quickly became a viral sensation, with over 1 million users signing up to use it in its first five days. Users were amazed by ChatGPT's ability to generate human-quality text in response to a wide range of prompts, from writing essays and poems to translating languages and answering questions in a seemingly comprehensive and informative way.

The release of ChatGPT is said to have sparked a renewed interest in generative AI, leading to a flood of new research and development in the field and may have also inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs to build businesses around generative AI.

Generative AI or GenAI is used to create a wide range of content, which led to the emergence of new content-creation businesses. It translated texts much more accurately, which enabled businesses to translate their content. Customer support is another use case for Gen AI, with AI chatbots that provide customer support helping businesses reduce costs and augment their customer service. Sal Khan of Khan Academy has spoken about how GenAI can be used to create personalized learning experiences for students, with AI-powered tutors having the ability to provide students with feedback on their work.

Animesh Samuel, co-founder and CEO at E42.ai, says, “The demand for our conversational AI powered by our own LLMs has considerably increased thanks to the Chat GPT-hype creating a sort of corporate FOMO and still wanting to protect their privacy”.

So, it seems like entire skill sets of people have become productised through Gen AI. There also had been a lingering worry that AI would come for the menial or manual jobs, but it seems like it may redefine creative sectors as well.

India is known for its vast pool of tech talent, which has not only thrived on global platforms but is also increasingly channelling its energies into its burgeoning startup ecosystem.

Samuel remarks, “We are the only no code Cognitive Automation platform out there on which enterprises and our partners are building AI coworkers in almost every enterprise function from marketing to finance. Having said that, our 'competition' can be broadly classified into two categories. The first would be point solutions (a capability that solves a particular problem) like RPAs (Robotic Process Automation) or chatbots. These would be conversational AI systems that are fine-tuned to a particular domain like HR or customer care or RPA tools that can repeatedly perform a task. Here the AI component at best would be used for intent classification.”

But building an AI company is not as easy as it seems. Samuel says, “If you want to build a global marketplace where enterprises can click to hire AI co-workers, you have to quickly reach a certain threshold of market share, otherwise, other players will come in, put more resources and even though they may not be able to beat you in tech, they will beat you in capturing market share. They can take bits and pieces from the likes of Google and Amazon Web Services and build something. Of course, it has its limitations like being stuck with the particular cloud, not becoming intelligent, it'll murky the waters.”

Animesh went on to add that his team loves the fact that their partners and developers' ecosystem are building AI co-workers on the E42 platform. They get royalties as long as those AI workers are in action.

"So, creators of AI workers could license them for a fee, based on usage, number of transactions or other metrics. The creator could earn a percentage of the revenue generated or saved by the AI worker, tied to specific business outcomes, like cost savings or increased sales. AI workers could be offered as a subscription service, with companies paying a recurring fee. Maybe, creators could retain intellectual property rights over their AI workers and grant companies licenses to use them," says Samuel.

But it may not be all that smooth sailing for AI business models. Gen AI technology raises concerns about data privacy, ethics and biases embedded in algorithms. Ensuring that AI operates in a responsible and transparent manner is paramount. India is still looking at how to navigate an evolving regulatory landscape.

A lot of AI-washing may be happening, the way greenwashing occurs. Companies are projecting themselves to be AI-savvy, even if they’re not, because it may be music to the ears of VCs.

Pratip Mazumdar, co-founder and partner at Inflexor Ventures, remarks, “Is AI here to stay? The answer is yes. Is it a long-term trend? The answer is yes. Over a period of time, this sector and space will look very different. It will get more democratized in the way it is being used. As of right now, people are just scratching the surface, there are multiple use cases that have potential monetization impact, and people are yet figuring it out… As the space and sector matures, people understand and appreciate the nuances, things change.”

Indian startups could be poised to be key players in the generative AI space, offering innovation and disruption across sectors. There could be enormous potential for growth, with ample opportunity for collaboration, investment and global recognition. The AI hype may not just be about flashy demonstrations, it may, also, be about revolutionizing industries and bettering the human experience.

So, AI is, basically, a leverage multiplier. The question is: Will the leverage come from human beings or will the leverage come from technology?

“The ultra-specialisation era is gone. AI can get ultra-special in a few hours” quips Samuel.

As AI companies in India continue to innovate and collaborate, they could stand on the precipice of generative AI's future. And this could cement India's place on the global AI stage.

Shrija Agrawal is a business journalist who has covered startups and private capital markets before it was considered cool in India.

The views expressed are personal

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