As we begin the new year, now is a great time to rekindle your motivation and turn that side project into a startup. At PSL, we're always exploring new ways to leverage the power of technology to enhance our efforts as entrepreneurs. Recently, we published an article on the state of generative AI technology and our own experiments with it. In our efforts to stay efficient, increase validation velocity, and work in new creative ways, we have started using a number of AI-based tools that we believe can provide extra leverage in making your startup vision a reality in 2023.
First up is a tool called Fathom. This AI-powered note taking tool for Zoom meetings has empowered us at the studio to never miss an insight during voice of customer (VoC) interviews, one of the most critical PSL validation process inputs. The transcription is good, though that's not what we love most about it. With a click of a button, we can easily tag important moments in the conversation that the AI will then (quite impressively) summarize for us as an output. It knows who's talking, so if we decide something is worth highlighting midway through someone's point, the AI will actually listen back and summarize the whole point. The output is hyperlinked throughout, making it easy to click back to specific moments in the recorded video as well (particularly useful as we build pitch decks and need customer quotes!). Oh, and according to their website, “Fathom is forever free for personal use.”
The uses for large language models like OpenAI's GPT3 are vast and we've hardly scratched the surface. While many have used these models for brainstorming or creative exercises (e.g., naming, marketing messaging), we have found them to be uniquely useful for quickly deepening our understanding of topics that require a more nuanced approach. The tension between moving quickly and being thorough is a fundamental struggle for all entrepreneurs and ChatGPT has been excellent in helping us to manage that. In particular, the opportunity for dialog gives us the freedom to ask follow up questions that may not be immediately explorable through Google searches or topical publications alone.
We’ve also found ChatGPT to be particularly helpful as we develop our question scripts for VoCs and surveys. For example, we can feed the prompt with a hypothesis that we seek to validate and ask ChatGPT to create a set of related questions. The questions often still require some massaging, but using ChatGPT significantly speeds up this process.
We've also been exploring a lesser known project called character.ai and, in particular, their Sherlock model for high-level orienting research that helps us better understand the current or projected state of the world (e.g., market sizing, identifying and understanding trends, helping to answer “why now” for new ideas). In most cases it is willing to engage in the type of projection and speculation that ChatGPT is prohibited from doing. As with all models, it is very important to verify the correctness of answers, and we've found the Sherlock character particularly useful because it is good at explaining its thought process and clarifying the data sources it is using for easier verification. This transparency is crucial in helping us trust the conclusions that Sherlock generates. While Sherlock may not be more thorough than you at research, it is definitely faster and, as a result, is a significant force multiplier for these types of tasks.
Another AI-powered tool that entrepreneurs may find useful is Perplexity.ai. The familiar search engine-like interface hints at how the next generation of Google or Bing may operate. Perplexity allows users to provide queries as natural language in order to find information. It is powered by OpenAI’s large language models and Microsoft Bing, making it a valuable resource for research, particularly on difficult topics. The inclusion of Vancouver style citations and links to the referenced pages also makes it easy to verify the accuracy of the information being used. This is useful when seeking up-to-date information that you might typically use Google for (e.g., competitive landscape analyses, finding potential investors, understanding features of competitor products).
A lot of extensions have begun popping up that take advantage of ChatGPT, and we've been exploring a number of them to see which ones are the most useful for our needs. One extension that we're really liking is called Merlin. It gives a quick Ctrl/Cmd + M keyboard shortcut to access a ChatGPT window wherever you are on the web. The magic happens when you highlight text and press the shortcut command. The highlighted text is automatically queued up to be included in your prompt, allowing you to ask for anything that uses the text such as a short summary, a response email, a follow up question, etc. The response is then easily copied to use on the page you are currently on, allowing you to quickly knock off the many busy work tasks early founders can get buried under. Merlin also injects a window on Google.com that provides the ChatGPT response to Google queries, allowing you to compare responses without having to switch back and forth between multiple windows or tabs.
At PSL, we work with entrepreneurs to rapidly validate and bring ideas to market. If you've had a startup idea on the back burner or are looking for your next big adventure, 2023 might be the perfect time to start something new. If you're inspired to take the next step, reach out to one of our business leads, Jesse Guzman (email@example.com) or Anthony Diamond (firstname.lastname@example.org), and let's make 2023 your most rewarding year yet!