Hello! My name is Fabian and I am working on a small AI startup called AI-Writer.
The goal of the project is quite simple: You submit a query/headline to the service, and it will go out, research the topic, and come up with an article about it.
Well, at least the draft of an article, as this is still very far from being perfect, but it can save valuable time during content creation nevertheless (around 33-50% on average).
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
I don’t know how it started, but I know they wish to get into entrepreneurship was there all the time. I learned to program when I was a child (10 years or so), and back then I already had in mind to make money off of it. (Spoiler: I did not).
it is never as easy as it sounds when you start, and it costs a lot more than you might think, so get some cash ready to be burned.
But I still stuck with it because I consider it the only viable way of escaping the eternal cycle of a 9-5 job. Sure, you escape it by working double the amount, but at least you could take off a day whenever you want, right? Right?? Or at least that is what we are telling ourselves, but in the end, it is just a lot more fun to work on your own projects than to work on someone else’s. And that’s the whole reason I am into entrepreneurship: It is more fun than the alternatives, and eventually it can be used to escape the rat race we are all stuck in.
However, what everybody should be aware of: It is not as much fun in the beginning. You will not have any money, the money you will have goes into your projects, but that does not matter because you do not have any time to spend it anyway.
It took me almost 10 years until I made enough to live off of it comfortably (but on the other hand, these were my mid-20s, most people don’t have a lot of money at that age, so it never really bothered me).
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
One thing needs to be clear: Nothing will go just as planned, and there will be a lot of failures on the way. Well, at least for me! I failed a bunch of projects before one worked out.
For example, as one of my first projects - this was more or less 10 years ago - I wanted to create a poker bot (because free money, sounds good, right?), but I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. So, obviously, this failed, after spending years on it. That was a harsh set-back, I can tell you. But I learned a lot about machine learning (before it became cool again), so looking back it was still worth it.
Then, after a few more failed projects, I started what has now become AI-Writer. Back then, before the AI boom, technology was still far from being ready for such a project, but the idea stuck with me. So I kept the website online (collecting emails) and revisited the problem from time to time, but I was not really actively working on it most of the time.
Until eventually the algorithms became good enough to have a market, which is when the pet-project became my main project. Years passed between starting the project and making any money off of it.
And to be perfectly honest, I almost gave up on the project a few times during that period. But why take the website offline? So I just kept it online, kept collecting emails, until eventually, the recent AI boom got me the tools to finally make it work.
And that is where I am now, the startup is still in “stealth mode” (well, at least there is no active marketing) and I am very excited to see where it goes from here in the next few years.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The startup is profitable, but only because it is highly automated and I can run it on my own and don’t have to pay any paychecks.
Nevertheless, I can live off of it, and as long as this is the case I will just keep working on it and just see where it goes from here!
It might very well be that it will never come to a lot closer to “perfect” articles, but it might also be that next-gen AI technology can somewhen solve article generation.
In any case, I am determined to find out and work on it for as long as I can, because otherwise, all the work would have been for nothing, right? And man, it was a lot of work to get here.
So as long as I have happy customers I will keep going. And if it does not work out, be sure I will find another project to spend way too much time on.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I learned to be more skeptical towards most business ideas (especially when bootstrapping them), my own just as much as anybody else’s. In the end, it is never as easy as it sounds when you start, and it costs a lot more than you might think, so get some cash ready to be burned.
And I learned that there is a huge amount of luck involved, besides all the hard work. However, if you just keep going project after project, you can bypass the luck component in my opinion. If 9 out of 10 startups fail, well, better start 10 of them.
Additionally, it is always a good idea to start projects in areas that have a demand on the job market as well. So, for example, if you are starting an AI project, if it does not work out, you can at least get a job as an AI engineer. And for me, this paid off, as I could only bootstrap my startup because I was also working as a freelancer at the time.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I am not using a lot of tools (just a ToDo list, mostly). I just don’t like them, they are limiting and expensive and if you are unlucky they will be gone next year.
Python just offers so many libraries, you can do almost everything with it. It might take a bit more time for some features, but in the end, it is just so much more flexible and powerful.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I never read any blog or book or listened to a podcast about entrepreneurship. As said before, I came from the programming side of things, and entrepreneurship somehow came along with it.
But this is something I am planning to change. So, what were your most influential books, podcasts, or other resources? Let me know!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Get yourself a business model that can be profitable right away with the first customer and then just run from there. And be prepared that it might fail nevertheless, so don’t get too attached like I did with my poker bot idea.
And if one fails, just start the next one. And the next one. And then, one more. You can do it.
Where can we go to learn more?
Just drop me a line, you find the credentials on the website (And yes, the website looks like s--t, but I am working on it, promised)
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