Elad Gil is one of the most successful investors of our time, having invested in startup juggernauts like AirBnB, Instacart, Figma, Notion, Stripe, Square and many more. He spoke at the AGI House’s Autonomous Agents Hackathon back in July 2023.
“It’s the early days of what I think one of the most exciting moments in time in technology, at least that I’ve lived through” – Elad Gil
Here are Elad’s 3 tips for entrepreneurs building AI Agent companies:
“It’s the early days of what I think one of the most exciting moments in time in technology, at least that I’ve lived through, in terms of this massive shift to AI. What I thought I would do is just mention 2 or 3 learnings from the past in terms of the other technology waves that happened and how to think about AI agents through that lens.
- Build for a specific problem. Whenever there are these big technology waves, everybody tries to build things that are very general purpose. And so, you know, they’ll always say, “Well, I want to build the broadest possible thing for the most possible users, and that’s the best way to build something that’s impactful, etc.” And I think it’s actually very useful to do the opposite and to ask, “What is the singular use case that my agent will solve?” I don’t need to develop a general purpose agent for everything. I need to solve 1 or 2 use cases extremely deeply. And, most of the agent related companies or projects or people that I talk to… they are all doing these very important things. But even if they try to define [what they’re building] down into something narrow, if you dig into it, it’s actually quite broad.
So an example would be an agent that effectively replaces an executive assistant. And so you ask people, “Okay, great, what’s the very first thing that it does?” And you end up hearing, “Well, it makes your life easier.” And what does that mean? “Well it’ll book travel for you. It’ll plan your day. It will play the right music for you.” And you’re like, that’s not what my EA does A), but B) that’s way too broad. And maybe the right thing to start with is [the agent] does calendar-ing and it pulls all the data about the person you’re about to meet and it’s scours the web and it scours your emails and gives you a summary so you have context for that person going in [to the meeting]. That for me would be incredibly useful.
It’s very targeted, it’s very focused and it starts with one thing and then it grows from there. And so I think one big learning is, in general, at the outset, the best companies actually start out focusing. And there’s a YC-ism around this, which is “It’s better to please 100 people very deeply than 10,000 people somewhat.” You want to start with something that people get really excited and passionate about.
- Ship fast. I think the second thing is just shipping fast, and I know that’s an obvious thing to the community and group here, but I think people often wait for something to be too good before they launch it. Fast speed of iteration is going to really matter a lot because again, it’s a very competitive market. Everybody is doing a land grab, and everybody is kind of going for it. And so speed is really important.
- Focus on your users, not competition. And then lastly, it’s remain focused on your users and your customers […]. People get very competitor centric or they try to copy things competitors are doing, or they see somebody raise a giant round or whatever, and it usually doesn’t matter. Usually the companies that raise the most money actually aren’t the ones that do the best. They get distracted by a bunch of other stuff.
And so those are sort of 3 tips in 5 minutes in terms of something I think may be relevant to us as you go about these agents. And again, I think it’s an incredibly exciting moment in time.
I’m helping get something up and running right now called “Braintrust” and hopefully we can come back in a couple of months when that’s fully baked and we can talk about that and, you know, maybe there’s a few of you that can make use of that as well.
Thanks so much for the time. And I’m very excited to see what everybody builds.”
* Header image generated by Stable Diffusion SDXL 1.0 with “Elad Gil giving a talk”