Home Grow 5 Tips for Entrepreneurs From the Founder of aiXplain

5 Tips for Entrepreneurs From the Founder of aiXplain

This startup founder believes that AI is enabling entrepreneurs to build novel solutions to problems.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
images header

This article first appeared in the March/April issue of Inc. Arabia's digital magazine. To read the full magazine, click here

As Big Tech pours big money into AI, it seems daunting for entrepreneurs looking to experiment with the new technology that is taking business to the next level. Earlier this month, OpenAI chief Sam Altman said that AI can enable 1-person unicorns, creating new prospects for entrepreneurs with limited resources.  

And with generative AI alone set to become a $1.3 trillion market by 2032, it’s no wonder that everyone wants a piece of the pie.  

Hassan Sawaf, the founder of aiXplain, believes that the climate is ripe for entrepreneurs looking to make an impact.  

“Now is the time for entrepreneurs,” says Hassan Sawaf, a seasoned entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in AI and founder of aiXplain.  

He encourages entrepreneurs to think of AI as an enabler, and the multiplicity of AI tools available to them as countless opportunities to create solutions and increase efficiencies that did not exist before.  

Here are 5 tips that he believes can help budding entrepreneurs utilize AI to grow smarter businesses.  

  1. Try to Solve Real Problems 

According to Sawaf, the more tools we have, the more gaps we see, some of which we may have never considered before. His advice to budding AI entrepreneurs? “Think about a problem. Focus on that problem and work backward to create a solution. AI will likely be part of your journey to solve that problem.”  

He tells us that AI is uncovering problems that we never thought we had, creating a need for smarter tools to solve them.  

“It is important for us to think about AI as a language or a way of thinking that we can use to solve problems. That way, you set yourself apart from other startups out there, which build the hammer, and then go searching for the nail. Think about the problem and figure out whether you need a screwdriver or a hammer, and then build the tools that you need.”  

  1. Think From the Problem Back to the Technology 

Sawaf tells us that having tools like AI at our disposal can help us find new ways of addressing existing challenges. Having these tools can help entrepreneurs focus on the problems they are solving rather than getting caught up in the solutions.   

If you see that problems are dealt with in a certain way, it doesn’t mean that this is the only way to do things. Allow yourself to be thinking outside the box, all the time,” he says.  

“It is critical to think from the problem back to the technology or back to your offering. Don't constrain yourself by what you see around you,” he adds. “Today, there are so many tools that weren’t available a year ago, so the solution you’re going to build today is very different than what you would have built 6 months ago.”  

  1. Don’t Build Everything From Scratch 

“Don’t build everything from scratch. Build things from existing technologies. You might want to build core technology or foundational models to support your business, and if you do, build them according to what you need,” says Sawaf. 

If a startup is building a solution that requires 10 or 20 underlying foundational models, it will be able to make informed decisions about which models need to be built from scratch by benchmarking the final results, he says.  

He tells us that when he built his machine translation startup AIXPLAIN AG in the late 1990s, he had to build everything from scratch. Today, 1-person companies can employ multiple AI agents to address problems and build on existing models. 

“When I built my translation company in 1999, there was no data, you had to find it for yourself. There were no models, you had to find, build, and train your own models, and these things cost a lot of money. Today, we can actually benefit from what exists out there and think on a higher level, which is beautiful,” he tells us. 

  1. Be Agile and Adaptive 

With technology constantly evolving, it is key for entrepreneurs to be agile and adaptive. Sawaf encourages entrepreneurs to constantly question themselves and their solutions. “You have to ask: Is this the best solution or can we make it better? Bear in mind that the code that we build today may not be compatible with the technology that we have in a year. There might be better ways to do things in the future,” he says.  

Sawaf stresses that being agile and adaptive is not an easy mindset. It requires constantly questioning things and rethinking how--and why--they are being done.  

“Agility and adaptability are probably the most challenging parts for people, but you have to be adaptive, or else you’ll fall behind.”  

5. Disrupt Yourself 

Finally, Sawaf encourages entrepreneurs to constantly disrupt and second-guess themselves to ensure that what they perceive as innovation is still relevant.  

“Don’t stay in love with what you are building. Allow yourself always to be disrupted--disrupt yourself all the time,” says Sawaf. “We used to think that our solutions are going to be good for many years. In reality, the iterations of innovation today are so much faster that you always have to think of better ways to do things. Otherwise, you will get stuck.” 

Last update:
Publish date: