Making the Most of AI – Twin Cities Business Magazine

All conversations about business innovation seem to lead to artificial intelligence. With this year’s release of ChatGPT, Google Bard, and others, the public is starting to consider AI’s potential. But AI isn’t new to tech founders, and as many point out, it’s only as useful as its application. Here’s how four Twin Cities startups use AI.
What: E-commerce platform that suggests fishing gear based on the lake you plan to fish 
HQ: Golden Valley
Founded: 2018
AI integration: “We have always harnessed the power of data to drive operations,” says CTO Dan Wick. “Our recommendation engine utilizes a user feedback mechanism embodied in fishing reports. We’ve discovered a niche where location, content, and commerce converge to create a unique experience.”
Now: “The surge in availability of large language models (LLMs) and transformer architecture has empowered us to create connections more rapidly and deliver an increasingly seamless experience to our users.”
Next: “Major LLMs like Google Bard and ChatGPT require substantial training to cover a broad array of topics. We believe the true power of AI lies in its ability to delve deep into specific domains, drawing out hidden connections and value. This approach aligns perfectly with our platform’s architecture, opening up new avenues for us to explore.”
What: App that helps users achieve health goals
HQ: St. Paul
Founded: 2018
AI integration: “We use AI to help people find more time in the day for their health,” says founder and CEO Sean Higgins. “We use unsupervised learning to understand the actions you take and identify patterns. This enables us to find windows of 10 to 15 minutes to do the things you said were important in your week.”
Now: “AI is the main element driving value for BetterYou members today. When we look at the outcomes we’ve generated, the main element driving the improvements (for example, an average of 32 additional minutes of sleep per night among members; 982 additional steps per day), is the ability to find these windows of time using our model.”
Next: “AI has the potential to reduce barriers and make the inaccessible accessible. The AI opportunity for BetterYou is to create a world where your day is optimized, not by advertisers or app makers who care more about what you’ll watch than what you want, but by you.”
What: AI assistant that helps small businesses with scheduling and service
HQ: Minneapolis
Founded: 2018
AI integration: “We provide small business owners with AI assistants that text message with their customers to schedule appointments, answer questions, upsell the business’ products and services, and encourage customer reviews,” says founder and CEO Michelle Tran Maryns.
Now: “Currently small business owners waste about 68% of their time doing repetitive administrative tasks themselves. AI makes it faster and better to complete these tasks because customers get the answers or services they need faster, and it frees up time for the busy business owner. Using AI for conversational commerce also makes it possible for business owners to more easily communicate with customers in other languages.”
Next: “With the arrival of ChatGPT-4, more people are starting to understand AI’s potential usefulness and value. It will change how we do business and our daily lives. I think it will be the next big revolution since the internet, and our team is working hard to make sure that we develop AI-powered tools that are inclusive, unbiased, and accessible to all.”
What: AI-powered role-playing software to help enterprise sales teams
HQ: Minneapolis
Founded: 2020
AI integration: “We use LLMs like GPT-4 to synthesize text, as well as voice-to-text and text-to-voice tools,” says CEO Kelvin Johnson. “We also expect to do more with video synthesis and analysis soon.”
Now: “We are already fully transitioned into the post-ChatGPT world, and it’s baked into every new feature and product we are building right now.  It’s also embedded in our business and software development processes.  We’re an AI company through and through.”
Next: “We know we can generate text with passable fidelity to a body of knowledge and style guide. Intercom really led the way by integrating ChatGPT-4 into their financial service desk chatbot offering. Now, we are pushing the technology stack to support live, dynamic conversations that adapt to, assess, challenge, and perfect a trainee’s sales skills, from subject-area knowledge to delivery to tonality, and, finally, the Holy Grail, which is to build trust and connection. We believe our next big release will usher in a whole new way of thinking about sales training.”
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Allison Kaplan is editor-in-chief of Twin Cities Business.

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