Building Startups of the Future

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Amir Shevat, Director of Developer Relations at Slack (panelist)


Crystal Rose, co-founder of Sensay and founder of LA Startup Week (panelist)

  • Crystal's LinkedIn
  • Crystal's Twitter
  • Crunchbase profile summary:
    • Crystal Rose is an entrepreneur and technologist based in Los Angeles, California. She has founded a digital interactive agency and co-founded two technology startups. Crystal is currently Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Sensay. She is also founder and Director of LA Startup Week, a 5-day series of events celebrating entrepreneurs and startups in Los Angeles. Crystal was also a leader and organizer of the Code for America Brigade in Los Angeles – Code for LA – supporting open government and civic hacking for the Mayor's Office.


Vikram Dendi, Strategy Director at Microsoft Research (panelist)

  • Vikram's LinkedIn
    • Vikram's Twitter
    • Vikram's profile on the Microsoft Research website
    • Vikram's Bio:
      • Vikram Dendi is the Strategy Director for Microsoft Research and acts as the Technical & Strategy Advisor to the Head of Microsoft Research. He is responsible for increasing the impact of MSR's research investments and also currently oversees the teams supporting technology transfer, IP strategy and technical operations.
      • Prior to Microsoft, he worked for Real Networks where he played a key role in establishing the company's open source strategy and was responsible for designing, building, and shipping consumer products for the Mac and Linux platforms.
      • Vikram graduated with honors from California Institute of Technology and while an Entrepreneurial Fellow in a National Science Foundation sponsored program, he founded his first startup company in the area of tablet computing. Vikram's research interests include Computer Human Interaction, Social Computing, Intelligent Interfaces and Software Agents.


Matt Thompson, GM Developer Experience and Evangelism at Microsoft (moderator)

  • Matt's LinkedIn
  • Matt's Twitter
  • Matt's Bio:
    • As General Manager of Microsoft's Developer Experience and Evangelism efforts, Matt has the first hand opportunity to both observe and work with a number of Silicon Valley's most unique technology startups.
    • His time is split between working with this influential community of technologists as they adopt Microsoft technologies (including Microsoft's cloud offering, Windows Azure, and new phone platform, Windows Phone 7); advising a number of early stage startups; and working with Microsoft customers & partners as they implement solutions on top of the breadth of the Microsoft platform offerings.
    • Previously, as Sr. Director of Sun's Cloud engineering organization Matt was responsible for the development of Sun's platform as a service offering and related cloud developer tools. In a previous role, Matt was responsible for Sun's developer program and technology outreach worldwide. When not working you'll likely find Matt off an island somewhere following his passion, underwater photography.


Defining the topic

  • How do you define a bot?/What are bots?/What do bots do?
    • Let me take a step back. We are assuming that our audience fully understands bots. Since 'bots' has almost reached 'buzz word' status, maybe it would be helpful for both of you to set context on what you mean by 'bots.'
    • So what do bots do? How can they help me as an individual every day?
    • What are bots limitations today? How do we expect that to involve in the future?


Company overview: How do Slack, Sensay and Microsoft approach Bots/AI

  • What is Sensay, how is it using Bots
    • Crystal, can you tell us a little more about Sensay/how you and Ariel your co-founder came up with the idea?
    • Can you tell us more about your journey working with Bots?


  • Why has Slack invested/believed in the power of AI and Bots and how did it do so?
    • Amir, Slack has not only been thinking about bots for a very long time but actually implementing their own and offering developers a way to take advantage of the Slack platform with their own implementation of bots. Can you talk a little more about why Slack believed so early on in the power of artificial intelligence and bots in your core product?
    • Tell us more on the journey of Slack working with AI and bots?
  • How does Slack envision bots and AI affecting its product/the way users interact with the product?
  • What are some interesting startups Slack is working with on bots?
    • Amir, what are some interesting startups that Slack is working with to enrich its platform? What do they do/Why was Slack interested in partnering with them?
  • Why is AI/bots important to Microsoft?
  • What problem domains is Microsoft attempting to tackle with its Bot directory?
    • "Vikram, Microsoft Research has been exploring ways to enrich people's lives with artificial intelligence for a very long time and we are starting to see those fruits of labor come to market with Microsoft's Bot Framework and some of our own bots like Summarize and CaptionBot." What were the problem domains that Microsoft attempted to tackle when envisioning our framework and bots we have currently available in our own Bot Directory?


The future and opportunity

  • What's the biggest opportunity?
    • When you step back and look at the potential of AI and Bots, which industries should we expect to be disrupted by bots first/the most and why?
  • How can startups participate in the AI/Bots opportunity?
    • Should startup care? As a startups, should I think about using bots in my tech stack?
    • Our audience today has a lot of startup founders. For those interested into launching a business, what would you say is the best way to get started to participate in the AI/bots economy? What advice would you get them to get starting, evaluating bots, integrating bots, how they might include them as a core part of their services etc. what do you say are the right things to think about?
    • The current landscape with Ai and bots today is highly fragmented, which may lead to more consolidation at some point. If this happens, who do you think will emerge as bots platforms in the future?


Technical questions

  • How easy is it to leverage frameworks and platforms to implement AI into apps and existing platforms like Slack and Facebook Messenger?
    • Okay, for the true geeks out there like myself, I am interested in just what it takes to take advantage of these various frameworks and platforms to implement artificial intelligence into apps and existing platforms like Slack and Facebook Messenger. Is it super hard? Is it well documented? What should developers be looking into so they can start today and prepare for the future? Amir? Vikram?
  • Can non-developers take advantage of some of these platforms and frameworks too?
    • So let's say that I am here or watching live online and I am not a developer. Are there opportunities for non-developers to take advantage of some of these platforms and frameworks? Are bots something non-developers can take advantage of?
  • Is Sensay planning to offer developers the Sensay platform to build some of its intelligence into their own apps?
    • Crystal, our other panelists companies are building frameworks and platforms for developers to make it easy to consume and build bots. Sensay is actually building a business on the intelligence of a bot. Are there any plans to actually offer the Sensay platform to developers to build some of that intelligence into their own apps?


Closing questions:

  • Human vs. bots?
    • Today, we still heavily rely on humans. Can you predict for me when you think we'll see a ratio of more bots vs. human? Timeframe? Will that even happen?
  • What are learnings you can share with the audience?
    • Reflecting back from where you are today, what have been your biggest learning experiences you can share with the audience today?



The Discussion

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