"Building a Defensible AI Startup and Discovering the Meaning of Life"


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 24, 2023

4 min read


"Building a Defensible AI Startup and Discovering the Meaning of Life"


In recent years, the AI landscape has seen remarkable innovations emerging from startups like Midjourney, Runway, and Stable Diffusion. These companies have captured the public's imagination by leveraging open source horizontal models such as ChatGPT. As we delve into the world of AI startups and the quest for meaning in life, we find that there are common points that can be connected naturally.

The Advantage of Speed in Startups:

One definitive advantage that startups have against incumbents is their agility and speed. Midjourney's success can be attributed to their quick execution in shipping great horizontal platforms. However, startups must also think creatively and consider new product paradigms and interfaces made possible by AI. Building a product that is defensible against existing software companies requires a unique approach that incorporates AI in ways that cannot be easily replicated.

The Shift in UI/UX with AI:

ChatGPT's success serves as a case study in using advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to drive a shift in user interface and experience. While the underlying technology, GPT-3, already existed, OpenAI's conversational interface made it accessible to a mass market. This demonstrates that successful AI products can start as consumer companies, leveraging AI to enhance the user experience. By focusing on UI/UX, startups can gain mindshare and establish themselves as leaders in the AI community.

Building a Strong Community:

Growing a community around an AI startup is crucial for long-term success. Startups can develop an online personality that engages with the AI community on relevant issues such as development and regulation. Offering perks to existing community members, like gated access to beta users or referral codes, fosters customer evangelism and incentivizes non-members to join. Appointing power users as moderators in branded community spaces further strengthens the community's sense of belonging and loyalty.

Verticalized Solutions and Moats:

To build a defensible AI startup, it is essential to focus on verticalized solutions tailored to specific target personas. In a world where anyone can access AI models, verticalized solutions provide a deep understanding of the end-user's needs and create a strong competitive advantage. Moats, or long-term barriers to entry, are built by prioritizing collaboration, integrations, permissioning, and workflow. By understanding the market and the buying power of the audience, startups can build defensible positions in the application layer of AI.

The Absurdity of Life and Finding Meaning:

While AI startups strive to build defensible businesses, individuals often grapple with the search for meaning in life. The realization that life is absurd, offering no inherent purpose or explanation, can cause anxiety. Society's belief in a predefined life mission contributes to a pervasive sense of meaninglessness. However, existentialists argue that meaning is not something to be found but to be invented. Life gains meaning through our actions and the values we assign to it.

Embracing Freedom and Responsibility:

Existentialists emphasize that humans are in a constant state of becoming and that our values are not predetermined. Denying our freedom and living in bad faith limits our ability to define and redefine ourselves. The fear of committing to something without certainty often holds us back. However, by embracing the freedom to invent our values and taking responsibility for our actions, we can live authentically. Love, genius, and personal growth arise from our deeds and our commitment to living intentionally.

The Power of Honesty and Curiosity:

Living authentically requires honesty with ourselves. By acknowledging that we are more complex than labels and embracing the ambiguity of life, we become more comfortable with who we are. Committing to something despite life's uncertainties allows us to explore the granular parts of ourselves and discover the true meaning of our lives. Just as a portrait is created stroke by stroke, our lives are shaped by the commitments we make.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace agility and speed: As an AI startup, prioritize quick execution and product iteration to establish a competitive advantage.
  • 2. Focus on UI/UX: Enhance user experiences by leveraging AI to create innovative product paradigms and interfaces.
  • 3. Build a strong community: Engage with the AI community, offer perks to existing members, and appoint power users as moderators to foster a sense of belonging and loyalty.


Building a defensible AI startup requires a combination of speed, innovation, and community engagement. By leveraging the advancements in AI and focusing on UI/UX, startups can establish themselves as leaders in the field. Simultaneously, individuals can find meaning in life by embracing their freedom, taking responsibility, and committing to actions that align with their values. The journey of building a startup and discovering personal meaning intertwine, offering opportunities for growth and fulfillment.

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