How did you come up with the concept of Textify?
Textify is derived from the words 'text' and the operations to perform on it using AI [simplIFY, modIFY, identIFY, classIFY]. In short, Textify represents the power to dominate TEXT using AI.
The idea struck me during my last job at Hyundai Motors HQ in Seoul. At that time, I was scrutinizing several text documents per day but I didn't have access to any tools to aid me. I knew I could leverage AI to make my work easier and that prompted me to build Textify.
Currently, Textify offers AI membership which is one-stop access to all the popular AI tools. Think of it as a Netflix subscription for AI tools. We are constantly innovating to improve the distribution and monetization abilities of the AI ecosystem and to help AI consumers discover and utilize relevant AI tools.
What is the current state of AI ecosystem for startups?
It's very exciting to be in AI right now. The efforts made by researchers over the last 50 years are finally bearing results and we are extremely close to building very powerful and reliable AI tools to make our lives easier. There are, however, still some concerns for the AI ecosystem as a whole. The first concern is regarding the efficient distribution and management of AI tools. As the barrier to entry into AI is getting lower by the day, hundreds of interesting AI tools are made every day, but since there is no large-scale AI platform, they are hardly discovered. Secondly, the ecosystem as a whole is using outdated monetization methods like Freemium which doesn't sync well with the nature of these AI tools (AI tools are more computationally demanding than average SaaS apps).
AI is changing so fast. How do you keep up with it? Aren't you worried that something you build painstakingly will become redundant very soon?
AI is definitely changing fast. This was the reason we pivoted towards the AI platform business from the AIproduct business. We were also worried about the strong deflationary forces in AI. For example, a product that we built for $100 can be replicated by a competitor for $70 six months later due to larger availability of dataset, better know-how and lower training costs. In fact, the training costs itself went down 100 times in the last 5 years. As a result, all the dominant AI players have to rework their business strategies and there is no free lunch in AI yet. Alternatively, the AI 'platform' business strategy that we are exploring is much more stable and has deep moats like network effect and economies of scale.
I see that you spent time in Seoul. Any learnings there that influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
Yes, a few. Korea, as an economy, is playing a massive game of catch-up with the rest of the world. Koreans aren't always the best at innovating, but they are pretty good at benchmarking innovative ideas, replicating the innovation factor, working hard and making products that aren't always original but are quite practical. I worked in several Korean companies during my time in Korea and I was always surprised by the amount of interest they gave to the Indian growth story and how they wanted to be part of it as well. This prompted me to come back to India and explore opportunities for myself in the Indian growth story directly than indirectly through a job in a Korean company.
What is the biggest disadvantage you see of being a relatively young founder in the AI space?
I don't see many disadvantages, to be honest. Deep Learning, the subfield of AI causing much of the shockwaves around the world, is relatively new and there is constant innovation around it. In fact, I believe it would be a disadvantage to be a seasoned AI professional in this fast-changing environment because I might be stuck doing things the old way. As a newcomer, I am always exploring stuff with a fresh slate and that is working out in my favor so far.
More Founder Stories: Udayan Walvekar (GrowthX)