The hype surrounding ChatGPT, OpenAI’s viral AI-powered chatbot, has yet to peak. That’s the impression one gets from Y Combinator’s Winter 2023 batch, which features no fewer than four startups claiming to build “ChatGPT for X.”
Considering ChatGPT’s virality, it’s no surprise that innovators are jumping on the ChatGPT hype train. By one measure, ChatGPT is the fastest growing app in the world, reaching 100 million users within two months of its launch. Dealing with a visible app, especially one in the red-hot AI space, is bound to attract attention – a fact to which this article is a testament.
The first ChatGPT startup that caught our eye was Yuma, whose customer demographic is primarily – but not exclusively – Shopify merchants. Yuma’s platform offers ChatGPT-like AI systems integrated with help desk software, suggesting draft responses to customer tickets that are “relevant and customized for support agents” (in theory).
Ironically, Yuma “started by accident,” according to founder Guillaume Luciano.
“This is the third YC startup after SocialCam and TripByte,” he wrote in Yuma’s introduction to the Y Combinator database.
For background, SocialCam was a mobile photo-sharing app acquired by Autodesk in 2012, while TripByte is a recruiting and technical screening platform aimed at enterprise technology companies.
“I released Yuma as a fun prototype in mid-December 2022, and I was overwhelmed with demo requests,” Luciano said. “That’s when I knew I was on to something and I had to turn this into a real company.”
Yuma is clearly not like ChatGPT, instead it takes inspiration from the technical underpinnings of chatbots: AI models that generate text. Customers can train Yuma’s AI models on historical tickets, mimicking the branding style and optionally have it automatically translate between languages for service agents.
“There are thousands of Shopify merchants worldwide who generate over $10 million annually. Most of them have taken over some positions and are good at what they do: selling their products,” Luciano wrote. “But they all have one thing in common: they all hate customer support. It’s a burden and a huge source of expense for them because they receive hundreds of requests a day… Yumi is solving this in a few ways.”
Yumi, it should be pointed out, has competition in spades. There’s a writer who deploys in-house AI text models to power corporate copy. Elsewhere, Forethought is trying to build more accurate customer service chatbots with limited AI models. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – check out the likes of Lang, Neuron7 and Ultimate.ai.
All are eyeing the $58.1 billion customer service software market by 2023, a more optimistic forecast from Acumen Research that will come true. Will Yumi – and its ChatGPT-inspired technology – be ahead of the pack to grab the pieces? Only time will tell. In any case, it is a reasonably compelling sales pitch.
Another startup is Baselite, a “ChatGPT for X” build that uses text understanding models from OpenAI, specifically GPT-3, to allow businesses to add chatbot-style analytics to their customers. Fine-tuned on GPT-3 powered “information in context”, including database design, Baselit allows users to make database queries in English – without knowing any code.
At Baselite, for example, marketplace sellers ask, “Which of my products is frequently out of stock?” It allows them to ask. And get the answer in natural language. Or a product manager might ask, “Why did our total merchandise cost go down last month?” He can know the answer to the question. Without having to rely on their information team.
“It’s Baselite [an] AI Pilot for Analytics,” founder Shubham Rana wrote in a blog post announcing Baselit. “Product and business teams [can] Use Baselit to query and analyze data using plain English.
Here’s how it works: Customers connect Baselit to their databases – Postgres, Snowflake, Redshift or BigQuery – and “chat” with said database to get answers to their questions. Baselit automatically generates the appropriate structured query language. The results can then be exported to various visualization tools including Tableau, Excel, Google Sheets and Power BI.
Like Yumi, Baselit isn’t all that novel — other startups like Borealis AI and Y Combinator-backed Defog (which is in the Winter 2023 batch) do more or less the same thing, or at least claim to. Indeed, a startup’s success may ultimately hinge on its customer acquisition efforts rather than its technology.
That’s not necessarily the case with Lasso, one of the last of the ChatGPT-linked startups we saw in the Winter 2023 batch. Lasso, interestingly, combines a ChatGPT-like interface with robotic process automation (RPA) and a Chrome extension. Customers send Lasso descriptions or videos of processes they want automated, and the company uses its internal tools to build those automations.
The Lasso platform can be used, for example, to scrape a sales email, look it up in a search tool, and save the aggregated results to a document. “Regardless of timeline or budget, we want to allow anyone to automate their work using natural language or simply by sending a Lasso workflow into a screen capture,” co-founder Lucas Ochoa wrote in an introductory blog post.
Lasso goes head-to-head with RPA behemoths like UiPath and Automation Anywhere, along with the flood of RPA startups and workflow automation space. But Ochoa argues that Lasso solves many of the configuration problems associated with existing RPA solutions while remaining license-free.
Building a robotics process automation using traditional tools like UiPath is time-consuming and expensive, not to mention the initial consultant setup fees that most people are forced to pay if they don’t have the resources in-house. . “Lasso makes it cheaper and faster to build any robotic process automation using natural language on Chrome.”
It remains to be seen how well Lasso will perform in practice. But the experience of the founding team enters. some self confidence. Ochoa and Lasso’s co-founder Gautom Bose previously worked at Google, where their team was responsible for implementing the tech giant’s LAMDA text generation model for commercial products. As part of Google’s Innovation Lab 5 (experimental R&D group), they helped launch apps like AI Test Kitchen and Pixel Buds Pro.
A potential benefit to Lasso is the general appetite for workflow automation tools. In a recent survey from Formstack, 62% of companies say they are using workflow automation tools, and 44% of their businesses say they have made a significant investment in workflow automation tools in the past 12-24 months.
Additionally, while RPA VC funding has fallen from its peak in 2018, it remains a significant area. In the year In 2020, investors invested $296.4 million in startups in the RPA space, according to Crunchbase.
Rather than in the RPA space, it is BerriAI that has decided to engage ChatGPT, a platform designed to help developers deploy ChatGPT applications across multiple data interfaces for their organizations.
BerriAI acts as an intermediary between customers and ChatGPT, allowing users to design various ChatGPT configurations, share prototypes, and programmatically drive multiple instances of prototype configurations.
With BerriAI, a company can build a chat or search interface to let employees ask questions about internal documents, or create a tool to automate customer support inquiries using Zendesk and Jira tickets as a knowledge base.
BerriAI charges a hefty price for the privilege – $999 per month. But given the buzz around ChatGPT — along with Secretary, Baselite, and Lasso — it could attract a lucrative customer base.