Startup in the AI and ML space? Be a little more specific, please…

AI (as in Artificial Intelligence) and ML (as in Machine Learning) are the latest buzz in the early stage startup and tech scene and as such there is a lot of startup stories and pitch decks build around these magical technologies.

Most of these pitches follow a common pattern / storyline:

  1. This is industry X, huge market.
  2. In industry X lots of data is available or could be generated. Seriously, lots of data. Big Data.
  3. Current players in industry X are clueless with regards to IT (especially latest trends such as AI and ML) and as such inefficient. They do not utilize the data mentioned under point (2).
  4. We will enter this industry and sell software products applying AI technologies to the data. (Disclaimer: Our AI technology is subject to future development)
  5. There will be huge benefits from (4) for our customers (but we can not really name them at this stage).
  6. Remember the market size from (1)? We will take a substantial chunk of that. We only have to define our model.

Its a nice storyline, but most pitches and decks I see that include AI / ML as the magic sauce are totally unspecific with regards to what problem they want to solve, why the application of AI really makes sense to this problem, what the actual product will look like or what the value & business case for the customer is going to be. And I am not even talking why the founders have the required skill set to realize those technical challenges.

I get it … there is a lot of potential for future applications in these technologies and frameworks and the technical development of this space over the last 2–3 years is impressive and amazing. However, these technologies are not magic wands that will just search and solve problems themselves. AI and ML are not the new number 42s, the magic answers to all questions that will just apply themselves once unleashed.

So please … be a little bit more specific.

Written by

Technology & Software Investments at Tengelmann Ventures, previously with HTGF, SapientNitro, Capgemini and Hewlett-Packard. IT background.

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