How to organize an entertaining startup battle with your PreSeries AI judge

Originally published on Medium

Today, startup competitions, idea pitches, and demo days are everywhere. If you are an entrepreneur looking for the best place to promote your business, event scouting can become a full-time job. But hey, better drown in opportunities than begging for attention, am I right? If we’re looking only at 2017, there were almost 4,000 startup-related events around the globe (source: Crunchbase). But why so many of them? Well, startup competitions, demo-days, and the like are a very popular way for event organizers to increase the outreach of an event/conference by playing the “entertainment” card, and a great way to get some sponsorship. Let’s assume that 50% of all these events held some kind of startup competitions (conservative coin toss), it’s around 2,500 startup competitions for 2017 only. When you take into consideration that it easily brings media coverage you understand why everyone is fond of them, from entrepreneurs to event organizers, and of course, investors.

While we agree that the participation of startups makes events more entertaining and engaging, we don’t see any kind of innovation happening in how startup competitions are being done. Which is surprising coming from a community of disruption-lovers. The format is always the same, first the startups pitch, then the jury asks some questions, and last but not least a winner is selected.

At PreSeries, we spend every minute of everyday thinking about AI and startup investing. And seeing the format of startup competitions untouched by disruption was making us sad! We had to do something! In an effort to solve this problem, few years ago we launched, in collaboration with the PAPIs conferences, our own series of events. We call them the “AI Startup Battles” and our mantra is “Not yet another normal startup competition”. This time, the entire jury is being replaced by PreSeries very own AI. Our AI does the job of engaging in live Q&A sessions with the contenders on stage and is able to extract real-time insights thanks to machine learning. It leverages a database of more than 370k companies to compare with. Our very talkative AI is able to discuss with the contenders via a custom Amazon Echo present on-stage, making it a very space-efficient jury as it can fit in a small box.

We believe that our AI can do a great job at judging the potential of early-stage startups by looking at features around team composition, industry, technological edge and funding history. We think there is nothing more entertaining than having a data-driven algorithm decide your fate in real-time! Don’t you agree?

Maybe you need to see it to believe it? Then, if you are in London in April, you better not miss the 8th AI Startup Battle at PAPIs Europe (April 4).

As an event organizer, you can also bring the AI Startup Battles to your event, lucky you! We can help you transform your startup competition into a unique AI-driven moment that your guests won’t forget. For more info, get in touch at battle(at)preseries(dot)com and we’ll make sure that the power of PreSeries remains on your side!

Get your own VC-in-a-Box! (Voice Assistant)

If I ask you to name an important stakeholder that is often an overlooked key component of business operations, I’m sure “assistants” are not the first thing popping up in your mind. But if you look closely, regardless of their title, it’s hard to overstate their contribution to any company’s productivity by helping management staying focused on most important tasks.

As technology has advanced, the skill sets of assistants have continued to evolve to keep apace. The arrival of chatbots and better speech recognition is already drastically changing the landscape by allowing for the automation of many data intensive tasks. It is now possible for many to become their own globally-connected assistant, at a fraction of the cost of hiring a human assistant for such tasks that are better suited for software.

The latest advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence and voice recognition technology is slowly redefining our relationship to our electronic devices. Human-computer interactions are becoming more human-like and the promise of naturally conversing with your devices is just around the corner. The first wave of Voice Assistants lead by the Amazon Echo and its Alexa software appeared late 2014 and their adoption rate has shown no signs of slowing down. After conquering our homes, the battlefield has now moved to businesses as they aim to supercharge the productivity of workplace teams. Acting as task-oriented assistants, are fast becoming tomorrow’s colleagues-in-a-box.

With PreSeries we make it easy for anyone to predict the future of startups. But when fully concentrated in your work, opening the PreSeries Dashboard to get some insights can disrupt your workflow. Simply asking your question out loud, as you would with a colleague or an assistant, feels more natural and allows you to remain focused. Therefore, we built our own PreSeries for Alexa skill in order to bring startup intelligence to devices belonging to the Amazon Echo family. Main features are the scoring of startups in real-time and getting aggregate or detailed information about startups, technology areas, investors, patents, rounds of financing, and IPOs.

Once the skill is enabled, you can use your brand new VC-in-a-Box to discover all kinds of information regarding startups. Below is an example session.

You: “Alexa, ask PreSeries how many startups were founded in the US in 2016”

PreSeries: “The number of startups founded in the US in 2016 is 3857.”

You: “Alexa, ask PreSeries what is the highest scoring startup in the US in Education”

PreSeries: “The highest scoring startup in the category of education is AcmEd”

Check out our introduction video below!

Click here to add the skill to your Alexa powered device and don’t forget to check out our documentation for a complete overview of the questions you can ask your VC-in-a-box.