In August, the tech world was buzzing with news that Facebook had its own artificial intelligence (AI) powered personal assistant on the market. The service called M was available to Facebook Messenger users. Although the team at x.ai already had an AI personal assistant named Amy available for use, M had many features that seemingly one-upped Amy. According to an article in WIRED, M can make reservations, find gifts, and book trips. So if M is able to do ALL of that, what’s the catch? The fact that M is powered by artificial intelligence and…virtual assistants aka people–making M not so novel after all. Cue the real pioneer in the AI personal assistance space: Amy.
Amy Ingram is a AI-powered personal assistant. Any busy professional signed up for x.ai can cc: Amy into an email thread and she’ll coordinate a meeting. What happens if your plans change? Not a problem. Amy has the power to reschedule a meeting based on your availability and will send you a reminder before the meeting.
In August, the team at Ivy Startup Magazine profiled Alex Poon, Founder and COO of x.ai (the team behind Amy). Here’s some of the highlights from the interview reposted with permission.
The original post.
After Poon graduated from business school he became a management consultant. It was during that time that he met serial entrepreneur Dennis Mortensen who later became his business partner. Before they launched x.ai, Poon and Mortensen founded another startup called Visual Revenue. After they sold Visual Revenue, they launched x.ai back in 2014. Poon emphasized that trust is key when building a company with someone.
Taking the plunge into entrepreneurship
Some things cannot be taught in school. Business school can help round out some skills through case studies, leadership, managing & working on a team, and networking. But a lot of the lessons you learn won’t happen in a classroom; you learn them on the job.
The future of x.ai
There’s a huge market for personal assistants. Because personal assistants today spend a lot of time coordinating meetings x.ai has a huge opportunity to be the go-to scheduler for everyone.
Amy isn’t just another app you can find in your App Store or Google Play
Because Amy is a conversation system that uses natural language processing, x.ai doesn’t have an app or website for users to login. Instead of working on the interface that you would find tech teams at other companies focusing on, the engineers and data scientists at x.ai solely work on building the AI. Poon explained during the interview,
We don’t have an interface for you to look at…[which is] a whole different idea we have to consider: how do we think about the product, how do we design the product, and then we focus on that.
Creativity + User feedback
x.ai welcomes user feedback because they use it alongside surveys during the creative design process.
Life as a Founder & COO
No one day looks the same for Poon. He spends time working on a combination of team development, recruiting, and product design through the day. As the COO, he also makes sure that the team at x.ai is executing their core mission.
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