Welcome back, my friends! This month’s roundup of SaaS, AI, and SaaSBoomi insights: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talk about the next iteration of ChatGPT, SaaS startups jump into the business of GenAI enablers for enterprises, SaaSBoomi gets a Vanguard Circle, and more.
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First, a shoutout. Coming up in Chennai on March 7-8 is SaaSBoomi Annual 2024, Asia’s biggest SaaS event, curated by the world’s largest pay-it-forward SaaS founder community. Grab your seats now and lock in early bird prices.
Next iteration of ChatGPT
The pairing of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, tech’s hottest bromance, was on show at the Davos Summit this month. They spoke to the Economist’s editor-in-chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes, about the next iteration of ChatGPT. While Altman hinted at enhanced audio capability, Nadella said everything will get better, from writing to coding. “The magic of this is the generality,” says Altman.
What next for AI
At the start of each year, MIT Technology Review takes a stab at predicting the future, beyond the obvious. For 2024, their four bets are: people can customize mini chatbots catering to specific needs, GenAI’s next wave will be video, AI-generated disinformation will spread like wildfire in elections, and robots will learn to multitask.
OpenAI app store
One of the four predictions is already happening. OpenAI has opened a GPT store for customized chatbots made with ChatGPT. Millions of GPTs are already out there and the store has leaderboards of trending ones in various categories. For example, the top one under programming – or should it be prompt-gramming? – is Grimoire. It lets you create websites and more with a sentence. Any ChatGPT Plus user can also put up their own GPT and get a revenue share.
Open source AI race
Chinese AI expert Kai-Fu Lee’s new startup 01.AI has released an open source AI model that outperforms Meta’s Llama 2. It scores high on many leaderboards where AI models are compared. Founded in June last year, 01.AI is already a unicorn with $200 million in funding from Alibaba and others. It is giving away its AI models as open source to attract developers in building “killer GenAI apps”.
Away from the Big Tech scene, AI is transforming carpet-weaving in Kashmir. The intricate patterns of these handwoven carpets use a traditional design code called talim which is sent to multiple weavers working on many sections. AI has streamlined the creation of the talim. This has reduced the time taken to make a carpet from six months to six weeks.
GenAI is prompting founders to rethink workflows as AI-native and not just AI-augmented. AI-native consumer-friendly products will also spawn a new generation of prosumers. An a16z piece looks at the features of such products with examples of path-breakers.
Bold product bets
Slack’s Chief Product Officer Noah Desai Weiss shares his experience of making bold product bets, in an interview with First Round Review. A pivotal move was a total overhaul of the first day user experience instead of continuing to optimize the onboarding funnel with multiple experiments. “We called it Project Day One. Everything… was ripped up from the ground.”
Women leaders in SaaS
Nothing pushes the envelope on having more women leaders in SaaS than to be inspired by the successful ones. The Software Report has compiled a list of the top 50 women leaders in SaaS in 2023, with write-ups on each of them.
40 pioneers of Vanguard Circle
Forty pioneering founders have come forward to help SaaSBoomi create a corpus to finance its most audacious initiatives. Called the Vanguard Circle, it also provides financial stability to operations. Here’s a shout-out to the 40 trailblazers who made this happen.
Helping enterprises use GenAI
One of the hitches in enterprises using GenAI is in capturing and feeding the right data in the appropriate form to the GenAI apps. An Indian startup CogniSwitch.ai is using knowledge graphs to make these apps work more effectively. This reduces AI hallucinations and errors. “It’s like putting blinkers on a race horse to keep them focused,” says CogniSwitch founder Dilip Ittyera. It’s an example of SaaS startups jumping in to build tools on top of the foundational models, and India’s tech talent is well-placed to take up these opportunities.
The four musketeers
A tech geek, a beauty nonconformist, a sales expert, and a product wonk joined hands to disrupt a fossilized office space. They had high hopes for Veris, their cloud-based visitor management system. But they ran into incumbent service providers, and then an alarming dropoff of users during the pandemic had them questioning their conviction. But they persisted to take their SaaS product to 300 large enterprises across 22 countries. Their journey so far is captured in our latest installment of Grit Stories.
Rethinking PMF for US GTM
SaaS startups out of India often have to find product-market fit twice. Going to the US market is far from being a step-up. It’s a completely different market and needs a fresh approach for PMF. Rather than theorizing on this, three successful founders who made the leap – Raviteja Dodda, founder of MoEngage, Mohit Garg, co-founder of Oloid AI, and Rohit Choudhary, founder of Acceldata.io – share their experiences.
And for a comprehensive picture of everything involved in moving to the US, Lightspeed talent strategy director Siddharth Sangwan shares his “notes before you take off”.
Success and happiness
The latest episode of our Founder’s Deep Dive podcast is a free-flowing conversation between two pioneers of the shift from a services mindset to the dream of a Product Nation – host Suresh Sambandam, founder of KissFlow, and guest Sachin Bhatia, founder of Drishti which later became Ameyo. For Suresh, finding joy in what you do enables you to brave any challenge. For Sachin, finding out why India wasn’t producing product-based companies was the driver to success. Two kindred spirits learnt to merge success with happiness.
And that’s a wrap for this month.
Shoutout to SaaSBoomi volunteers Sumit Chakraberty for smart edits, ArunRaj Balasubramani for design help, and PC for tech support! Thank you guys.
PS: I want to hear from you. Suggestions; tips; constructive criticism… please write to me!