Finding the Way to AI: It All Starts with Pilots

By Ben Dyer

The sweet spot for AI startups is problem solving for large enterprises. I have discussed in earlier blogs that creating value for your entity requires moving upstream to grander challenges that deliver attractive returns for your intended customer set. The foundational infrastructure of AI is the province of Silicon Valley and Big Tech. What I would call the classic “garage” startup is, in my opinion, limited to lifestyle outcomes. Rarely does one of those create a moat, and they are therefore too easily copied.


To build a company with $100M potential also requires applying your creative genius to market opportunities where novel solutions are possible, and the checkerboard still has some open squares. One AI investor told me recently that he would only look at two areas: health and legal. That list of two may not be gospel, but your odds in that case as an AI entrepreneur are much higher as opposed to, say, the mar-tech world, which relies much less on protectable engineering discoveries. Science + IP = Investor Returns. Flash + No IP = Entrepreneurial Theater.


To get more specific, let’s ask ChatGPT for a checklist to launch your dreams into the enterprise universe:


1. **Identify Pain Points:** Understand the specific challenges faced by large corporations and demonstrate how your AI solution addresses those pain points.

2. **Customized Demos:** Offer personalized demos showcasing how your AI technology can directly benefit the corporation’s operations, highlighting efficiency gains or cost savings.

3. **Case Studies:** Develop and present case studies from similar industries or corporations to build credibility and demonstrate successful implementations.

4. **Networking:** Attend industry events, conferences, and networking sessions to connect with decision-makers within large corporations. Establishing personal connections can be crucial.

5. **Free Trials or POCs:** Provide limited free trials or proof-of-concept (POC) opportunities, allowing corporations to experience the value of your AI solution with minimal risk.

6. **Collaborate with Influencers:** Partner with influential figures in the industry who can vouch for the effectiveness of your AI solution, adding credibility to your startup.

7. **Clear ROI:** Clearly articulate the return on investment (ROI) that corporations can expect from implementing your AI solution, emphasizing both short-term gains and long-term benefits.

8. **Compliance and Security:** Address concerns related to data security and compliance, showcasing how your AI solution aligns with industry regulations and standards.

9. **Scalability:** Highlight the scalability of your AI solution, demonstrating its ability to grow alongside the corporation’s expanding needs and requirements.

10. **Education and Training:** Offer comprehensive training and educational resources to ensure a smooth onboarding process, mitigating concerns about the learning curve associated with new technologies.


Remember, building trust is crucial when dealing with large corporations, so focus on providing tangible value and addressing their specific needs.



As I reflect on my career, I have followed all these steps, or equivalents for earlier eras, with my best enterprise customers. The most thrilling words I ever heard came from Rupert Murdoch’s senior executive responsible for what today would be called “Innovation.” He said to me on first meeting at a trade show: “Ben, you’ve got exactly what I want.” The rejoinder to that opening can only be this: “Yes, sir. I do.” One can always figure out what is the exact want, but that comes in due course.


This very blog in relying on ChatGPT is an example of not needing to hire a consultant to remind me of what I already know. It’s fair game to let AI take over my “seasoned” memory banks. None of this is rocket science, but it does launch rockets.


I have no external reference articles this week. What I do have matches the mission.


I am working on a significant event for summer 2024 to bring the business of AI into focus in the Southeast. We’re pairing that with a look back at the previous epic advancement of the Internet, at term first used 50 years ago. There’s much to be gained by putting these landmark achievements into context. One need not look all the way back to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, as some pundits have suggested.

Comments always welcome. Message me in the Finding the Way Community



Ben Dyer is best known as the founding CEO of Peachtree Software and has been responsible for numerous startups in both Atlanta and Austin ranging from technology to financial services. He is currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the ATDC at Georgia Tech and spent 7 years in starting in 2011 in similar roles at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a prolific writer and has written many hundreds of blog posts on entrepreneurial topics. Among numerous honors, he is a member of the Georgia Technology Hall of Fame.






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