AI for Startups: A Comprehensive Guide for Small and Medium Tech Companies

AI for Startups

The Rise of AI – A Glimpse in Numbers

AI for startups is transforming industries across the globe. A staggering 97% of business leaders are convinced that conversational AI platforms like ChatGPT are game-changers for their operations. Industry giants such as Google are already integrating AI into their core functions, revolutionising not just search, but its various other products. Innovative applications in design and social media platforms like Canva and TikTok, as well as in personalised image enhancement, are offering AI-generated professional visuals from conversational prompts.  Among 333.34 million companies globally, over 250 million are either implementing or exploring AI technologies to optimise their operations.

Yet the pressing question for small-to-medium enterprises and startups is: How can we harness the full potential of AI? This article serves as a holistic guide, shedding light on the myriad ways both employees and employers can utilise AI as an invaluable resource, rather than seeing it as a threat to job security.

AI for Startups: Employees – Impact and Adapt

AI in Tech

Tech industry transformation

OpenAI’s Codex and Copilot are not just aiding developers, but are fundamentally reshaping the coding landscape. These AI-driven assistants have the capability to generate code snippets, identify and fix errors, and even recommend enhancements. As predicted by GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke, AI could soon be responsible for writing as much as 80% of code. SME businesses like Studyplus, Enrian, and Payzli are already leveraging Copilot to simplify their coding processes, signalling a wider adoption of automated coding tools across various industries.

Beyond automating mundane tasks, AI algorithms are now being deployed for critical operations such as automated code quality assessment, comprehensive code reviews, and real-time code optimization.

  • Snyk is an AI-based tool that delves deep into code bases to identify potential vulnerabilities and bugs, substantially mitigating risk factors. Companies like Citrix have leveraged Snyk to cut their risk profile by 50%
  • Code Climate, a preferred choice for both fledgling startups and established enterprises, is an automated code review tool that has been instrumental in meeting performance metrics. Companies like WorkTango have met an impressive 90% of their commitments, while LawnStarter saw a whopping 95% increase in Pull Request Throughput.

Working with large data sets is an inherently complicated task that often involves intricate data manipulation and time-consuming analyses. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are proving to be invaluable. Utilising advanced algorithms, AI-driven analytics tools can rapidly sift through enormous volumes of data, revealing insights that would have otherwise remained hidden or would have required substantial manual effort to uncover. 

  • MonkeyLearn, a no-coding platform with AI data analysis features to visualise and rearrange their data is used in many SME like Freshly to streamline feedback analysis and visualise valuable insights using automated text analysis, or Garmentory – helping them to turn their manual data entry into automation entry. 
MonkeyLearn’s feature

How Tech professionals can adapt

We’re living in the digital age, where almost nothing is truly “impossible.”

Wanted to stay relevant in the age of AI? Upskilling through online courses is a must. Platforms like Coursera, Udacity, and edX offer a treasure trove of opportunities to dive deep into AI and machine learning, helping tech experts stay on the cutting edge. What’s great about these resources is that they’re not only cost-effective but also incredibly user-friendly, making it a breeze to get started. 

Courses to consider

  • Discover the world of large language models (LLMs) with DeepLearning.AI, all in just one hour – and the best part is, it won’t cost you a dime. DeepLearning.AI offers a range of options tailored to your expertise level. If you’re just starting out, their short courses are perfect for beginners, providing foundational knowledge to get you started. However, if you’re ready to delve into more specialised aspects, they also offer specialisation courses. For beginners eager to explore the world of chatbots, the “Langchain – Chat with your Data” course is a go-to choice. It equips you with the skills needed to set up a chatbot using Langchain, making it accessible and engaging for those who are new to the field. 
  • Coursera offers a whopping 1,889 courses dedicated to the intriguing realm of AI waiting for you to dive into. The best part? Some of these courses can be mastered in just a matter of weeks. If you’re looking to embark on your AI journey, consider starting with courses like “AI for Everyone,”. For those eager to explore the fascinating world of language models like ChatGPT, “Prompt Engineering for ChatGPT” is a stellar choice. Meanwhile, “Python for Data Science, AI & Development” opens doors to the practical applications of AI in data science and software development. 
  • Staying relevant isn’t just about going with the flow; it’s about riding the wave. Expand your network. Connect with AI professionals, join AI-focused groups on LinkedIn, local meetups or conventions. 
  1. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science & Deep Learning community with over 1M members – where you can find all kinds of resources, events and meetings, sharing from AI professionals and AI-enthusiasts. 
  2. Open discussions on platforms like SubStack (like State of AI) or Reddit (r/AritficialInteligence) are also good sources for finding ideas, suggestions and how to leverage yourself with AI. 
  3. Learning how to master – or even achieving more skills and knowledge relating to AI is a big catch. Did you know that AI Prompt Engineer, or a job related to Generative AI is now a thriving job title?
Number of Generative AI job posting in the US, as of August 2023, according to the Wall Street Journal

AI for Startups: Recruiters in the Age of AI

Recruitment transformation

Hiring the right people is a big deal for companies, and it’s not just about sifting through resumes anymore. Nowadays, AI is stepping up to do much more. Firms are using high-tech tools to test a job seeker’s skills and even figure out their personality type. Think of it as a matchmaker that uses real data to find the perfect fit for a job opening.

  • Take Vevroe AI, for example. Recruiters love it because it has more than 300 tests that measure all kinds of skills. One company, Home Maid Better, cut their hiring time from 10 weeks down to just three using Vevroe. And let’s not forget about myInterview. This tool uses AI to analyse video chats, and to figure out if a candidate’s personality and skills match what the company needs. The best part? Nearly 71% of these interviews wrap up in less than 15 minutes.
Vervoe Skills Assessment Library with over 300 tests

LinkedIn, long considered a recruiter’s best friend, has now upped its game with the integration of Generative AI. Think about it—writing job descriptions is often a repetitive, almost monotonous task. Now, LinkedIn’s AI assistant can tackle that for you, churning out compelling and detailed job listings while you get to focus on what really matters: the people.

Instead of wading through stacks of ill-matching résumés, recruiters can now engage in meaningful interactions, providing interview tips, offering feedback, and really getting to understand what the candidate can bring to the table. 

How HR personnel can adapt: 

Automated interview scheduling tools and chatbot-led initial interviews used to be the stuff of the future, but now they’re becoming the industry standard. Sure, AI excels at the nitty-gritty details. For example, it can sift through a mountain of resumes in seconds, applying pre-set filters to identify the most promising candidates. This not only accelerates the early stages of recruitment but also reduces the chance of overlooking potential talent that may not have stood out at first glance.

  • Having trouble crafting the perfect job description? Enter Textio, an AI-powered writing assistant designed specifically to help recruiters. With Textio, you can fine-tune your job descriptions, social media appeals, and even your emails to candidates.

82% of job seekers are telling us something critical: the ideal hiring process seamlessly blends innovative technology with genuine human interaction. The message is loud and clear, and thanks to AI, recruiters can deliver precisely personalized experiences, and save a ton of time in the process.

  • Platforms like Cogbee are revolutionising how we approach interviews, skill assessments, and even remote proctoring. It’s like a one-stop-shop for streamlining multiple stages of recruitment, allowing recruiters to allocate more time to human-centric tasks. 
  • Then there’s Leena AI, which has the onboarding process covered from A to Z. 
  • Want to take it a step further? Pymetrics allows recruiters to train their own custom AI tools, making it easier than ever to offer a personalised hiring journey for each candidate. 
Leena’s AI Work Assistant

AI can sift through data, offer insights, and even make recommendations, but it’s up to the recruiter to take these tools and apply a layer of human understanding. Think of AI as an invaluable assistant, not the decision-maker. Once the AI has done its initial screening, recruiters can pour their energies into more meaningful interactions—digging deeper in interviews to explore candidates’ motivations, assessing how they’d mesh with the company culture, and gauging soft skills that aren’t easily quantifiable. It’s a chance to shift the focus from simply filling a role to building a relationship with a potential team member. 

AI for Startups: How AI can help managers and leaders  

The transformation

While AI may not have fully realized its potential in the realm of Learning and Development (L&D), its impact is undeniably transformative. AI-integrated Learning Management Systems (LMS) take traditional training programs to the next level by leveraging learning algorithms. These algorithms collect data on each employee’s engagement, pace, and topic preference, customizing the learning journey to suit individual needs.

  • Enter AI-powered platforms like Degreed. Degreed doesn’t just offer a list of courses; it analyses each employee’s skills profile and learning history to recommend tailored, skill-based resources. For example, Polaris saw an impressive 70% user activation rate within just the first month of launching Degreed’s Learning Experience Platform (LXP).

When it comes to maximising both productivity and employee well-being, conventional wisdom has always placed the onus on good leadership. But today’s challenges require more than just a keen eye and an open ear. This is essentially what AI is bringing to the table, acting as a catalyst rather than a substitute for effective leadership.

  • Consider Kona—an AI-driven dynamo that offers real-time monitoring of remote employee well-being.  Take the case of Mark, a rookie manager at Alkira. Kona didn’t just offer him a dashboard; it equipped him with timely support and intelligent nudges that enabled him to extend immediate help to struggling team members. 
Kona also offers a treasure trove of data on longer-term health trends and potential burnout

Data has become the cornerstone for informed decision-making. Executives are shifting away from gut feelings and increasingly relying on concrete, real-time data insights to make informed decisions. 

  • A prime example of this trend is ManageBetter, an AI tool designed for managers. Unlike traditional feedback systems, ManageBetter offers real-time assessments backed by data, giving managers the tools they need to provide specific and actionable feedback to their employees. Raj Yadav, Associate Director at Wayfair, experienced an 80% reduction in the time he needed for employee reviews thanks to ManageBetter’s capabilities.

How managers can adapt

Why don’t you hire your own team of prompt engineers? Unlike traditional tech positions that require formal qualifications, such as a degree in computer engineering, a Prompt Engineer only needs a foundational grasp of coding to get started. Their primary role is to help your organisation leverage AI tools for a variety of tasks, from data analytics to customer engagement. As for cost, you don’t need to break the bank. Emerging tech hubs, like Vietnam, offer a pool of skilled talents at a fraction of the price you’d pay in more developed markets.

Another question for leaders: What do you do once you’ve collected data? That’s where smart data utilisation comes into play. By employing the datasets you’ve amassed, you can make decisions that are not only better-informed but also timely and objective, all for the benefit of your employees. 

  • Tools like Polymer Search add another layer to this process. This AI-driven business intelligence platform allows you to quickly generate easy-to-understand dashboards and performance reports, making data accessibility a non-issue.
  • If you’re in search of a multi-purpose AI assistant, look no further than Akkio. This platform serves as a one-stop-shop for various business needs, from forecasting revenue and analysing real-time data to gauging customer sentiment through surveys.
Akkio covers almost everything, in every aspects

Remember the conflict between employees and employers over remote working? The timing couldn’t be more perfect for businesses to employ AI technologies that make the conventional “9 to 5 in-office” setting not just tolerable but genuinely engaging for employees.

  • Meet Vantage Point – employing virtual reality scenarios driven by AI algorithms to provide lifelike training experiences, whether it is negotiation skills, communication acumen, or leadership traits.
  • AI can even help to create a more homey-office for each’ preference. Platforms like Comfy use machine learning algorithms to understand and adapt to employees’ preferences around office conditions—be it temperature, lighting, or seating arrangements. This allows for a much more comfortable and conducive workspace, tailored to individual likes and dislikes.

Lastly, it’s vital to create a culture where AI isn’t seen as a threat but rather as a collaborator in the workplace. Encourage open dialogue and brainstorming sessions among team members about how AI can be strategically integrated into their daily roles to enhance productivity and job satisfaction.

AI for Startups: Bottom line

The rise of AI in the business landscape is an opportunity that small and medium tech startups cannot afford to miss. As industry leaders are already harnessing AI for optimised performance and innovation, the door is wide open for smaller players to join the fray. From enhancing customer service with conversational platforms to optimising internal processes and even creative endeavours, AI serves as a multipurpose tool that can elevate every aspect of business operations. Employees and employers should consider this not as a menace but as a catalyst for growth, efficiency, and competitiveness. 

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