Launching a Startup in the Age of Generative AI

Vasco Ramalho

20 December 2023

In the last year, Generative AI (GenAI) has significantly transformed technology and artificial intelligence. 

Its impact is evident across various sectors, from the arts to marketing, where it has streamlined content creation and spurred innovation. 

This widespread adoption highlights GenAI’s ability to unlock new creative possibilities and boost productivity.

However, this rapid progress raises concerns for founders, particularly the fear of AI quickly surpassing human-led innovations. 

It begs the question of the viability of investing in ventures that AI could outclass in a short period, especially given the high costs associated with developing proprietary AI models.

It’s a scenario that mirrors the rise of Amazon, which initially seemed to signal the end for other online marketplaces. 

But contrary to these predictions, the market saw the emergence of niche marketplaces offering specialised, user-centric solutions, such as Etsy. 

Similarly, in the GenAI landscape, while large companies like OpenAI and Google are setting standards, there’s a growing trend towards local, customised solutions catering to specific community needs and use cases. 

Currently, we’re observing the establishment and growing acceptance of GenAI among various users, and we should look at OpenAI not as a competitor but as a market enabler.

We should look at OpenAI not as a competitor but as a market enabler.


Focus Areas for Founders

Understanding the Generative AI Value Chain

To effectively tap into the potential of Generative AI (GenAI), it’s crucial to understand its multi-layered service structure. Recognising each layer in the GenAI value chain can guide strategic decisions about market engagement.

GenAI can be simplified into five primary layers:

  1. Infrastructure: Encompassing computational services, data centres, and cloud infrastructure, forming the backbone of GenAI operations (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc).
  2. Foundational Models: This layer involves research and development of essential GenAI models (GPT, Llama, Stable Diffusion, Murf, etc).
  3. Tooling: Tools and frameworks designed to optimize the pipeline of all GenAI typical tasks. (Langchain, Pinecone, Fixie)
  4. Domain-Specific Context: Including services offering specialized models tailored to meet the unique needs of different verticals.
  5. Application Layer: The focus here is on end-user applications, with a strong emphasis on enhancing user experience.

The first three layers – Infrastructure, Foundational Models, and Tooling – form the core of GenAI’s business value proposition. However, they demand significant initial investment and a team with specialised expertise.

In contrast, the last two layers – Domain Specific Context and Application Layer – are more universally applicable across various businesses and offer broader opportunities for engagement and innovation.

Let’s focus on those last two, as they are transversal to all modern entrepreneurs – technical or not.

Domain-Specific Context in Generative AI

While tech giants like OpenAI, Google, and Meta develop powerful models, there’s significant scope for integrating industry-specific knowledge into Large Language Models (LLMs). Techniques like Fine-Tuning and Retrieval-augmented Generation (RAG) offer exciting avenues for such integration – opening up opportunities in various areas:

  • Prompt Engineering: An evolving field which involves creating precise output formats for LLMs to meet specific industry needs, with potential applications in healthcare diagnostics, legal document analysis, and creative content generation.
  • Expanding Context Windows: Addressing the limitation of LLMs in handling large text volumes is crucial. Tools capable of managing extensive text data can revolutionize sectors like legal and academic research, enhancing depth and efficiency.
  • Translation and Integration of Multimedia Formats: Beyond text, generative AI is expanding into image, sound, and video. This development promises innovative cross-modal integrations, such as auto-generated visual summaries, AI-crafted soundtracks for videos, and real-time multimedia language translation.
  • Information Gathering: Leveraging GenAI for systematic data collection from individuals and organizations enhances the interpretative capabilities of AI models. This, however, must be approached ethically and with consent.

In this landscape, the competition isn’t just about foundational models but also about leveraging specific knowledge and networks. A strategic application of GenAI allows companies to gain a competitive edge.

Several companies exemplify this domain-specific approach in GenAI:

  • Focusing on optimising sales emails and related user flows, demonstrating how GenAI can streamline and enhance communication strategies in sales.
  • They are pioneers in AI-enabled gaming experiences, showing how GenAI can transform interactive entertainment and create more engaging gaming environments.
  • Specializing in GenAI-enabled residential building development, they demonstrate the potential of GenAI in revolutionizing architectural design and planning.
  • Operating under the banner SCISPACE, they streamline the journey of researchers through scientific papers, showcasing how GenAI can significantly impact academic research by simplifying the navigation of extensive literature.

These companies illustrate the diverse applications of GenAI, from enhancing user experience in gaming to revolutionizing processes in sales, architecture, and academic research. They stand as testaments to the power of domain-specific applications in the field of generative AI.

Daniel, CEO of Altar, Product and Software development company specialising in building MVPs, full custom software development projects & creating UX/UI that is both functional and beautiful
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Application Layer in Generative AI

The rise of Generative AI (GenAI) is heralding a shift in our digital interactions, much like the transition from the static Web1 to the dynamic, user-focused Web2. 

This shift is not just about adopting new technologies; it’s about innovating new design paradigms for their use. In the realm of GenAI, it translates to a transformation in how we interact with web interfaces and machines, moving beyond traditional keyboard and screen dynamics.

The AI evolution in the application layer is characterised by a few key design principles:

  • Simplicity and Clarity: The focus is on creating interfaces that are intuitive and straightforward, where AI-driven actions take precedence over complex user inputs.
  • Noise Reduction: This involves designing systems that can filter and prioritise information effectively for the user’s specific needs.
  • Knowledge Mapping: Visual and interactive representations of data and knowledge become integral, enhancing user understanding and engagement.
  • Hyper-customisation: With GenAI’s ability to learn from interactions, there’s a push towards interfaces that adapt and personalize user experiences based on individual interaction histories.

Several companies are at the forefront of incorporating these principles in their GenAI applications:

  • A platform that leverages AI to understand emotional expressions, aligning technology with human well-being. Their focus is on creating empathetic and intuitive user interactions.
  • They specialize in generating insights through AI-driven visual knowledge graphs, showcasing the potential of GenAI in transforming complex data into understandable and interactive formats.
  • As an AI studio, they are pioneering the creation of Personal AI, which demonstrates the potential for highly personalized AI experiences tailored to individual users.
  • This platform exemplifies the application of GenAI in content creation, offering tools that assist in generating written content efficiently and creatively. Their focus on user-friendly interfaces and the seamless integration of AI into the writing process highlights the importance of intuitive design in GenAI applications.

These companies illustrate the diverse and innovative ways in which GenAI is being used to enhance user experiences, demonstrating the potential for transformative change in the way we interact with technology. The application layer in GenAI is rapidly evolving, driven by a need for designs that are not only technologically advanced but also deeply attuned to user needs and preferences.

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Advice for Founders

As the landscape of Generative AI (GenAI) continues to evolve, it presents a wide range of opportunities as well as challenges for founders. 

Navigating this terrain requires a strategic approach, grounded in innovation and adaptability. Here are key pieces of advice for founders looking to thrive in the GenAI era:

  • Identify Niche Markets: Focus on areas where AI can provide distinct value. Avoid direct competition with larger companies and instead leverage AI to address specific challenges.
  • Cultivate Agility: Stay nimble and quickly adapt to the evolving AI field. Utilize your expertise and industry knowledge to stay ahead.
  • Innovate Responsibly: As you integrate AI into your solutions, prioritize ethical considerations and user privacy.
  • Build Collaborative Networks: Engage with other founders, AI experts, and industry leaders. Collaboration can lead to innovative solutions and open up new markets.
  • Educate and Empower Your Team: Ensure that your team is well-versed in AI capabilities and limitations. A knowledgeable team can more effectively harness AI’s potential.
  • Stay Informed and Proactive: Keep abreast of the latest developments in AI and anticipate future trends. This foresight will help in making informed strategic decisions.

Wrapping Up

The realm of Generative AI offers a new frontier of possibilities for founders. Success in this domain requires not just embracing the technology but also adopting a strategic, informed, and ethical approach.

Thanks for reading.

By the Way…

…if you’d like to discuss how these and other AI-related topics can impact your business, shoot me a message.

As a product expert onboarding new clients at, I have a ton of experience I can share with you.

Vasco Ramalho
Account Manager
Vasco is a Physics Researcher turned entrepreneur. He moved from an academic career in Quantum Optics into the world of Venture Building. Over the past 7 years, he’s been helping entrepreneurs articulate their ideas into tangible business solutions. Most recently he’s brought his product expertise to Altar, helping guide entrepreneurs and business leaders alike along their business journey.

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