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The era of AI-assisted pitching is here
How much time will we have between AI being not-quite good enough at storytelling to being much better than humans?
We’re about to find out.
ChatGPT from OpenAI was released last week giving non-experts a natural language interface to explore what AI is capable of. Try it for yourself: https://chat.openai.com/chat
Here is an unedited ‘conversation’ I had with ChatGPT to see how useful it could be for creating a startup pitch.
Thanks for reading A Leap of Faith a newsletter about pitching and founder storytelling. Written by a real human being, mostly.
Create a startup idea for people lending things they don't use often, like lawnmowers, to their neighbors for free.
One potential startup idea is to create a peer-to-peer platform that connects people who want to lend out items they don't use often with their neighbors who need to borrow those items. The platform could be called "NeighborLend" and it could help people save money on the cost of buying new items and reduce waste by allowing people to borrow items they only need occasionally.
NeighborLend could work by allowing users to create a profile on the platform and list the items they are willing to lend out. Other users could search for items they need, such as a lawnmower, and contact the person who has it available for lending. The platform could also include features such as ratings and reviews to help users choose the best person to borrow from, as well as tools for tracking the status of borrowed items and scheduling pickup and drop-off times.
In addition to connecting people who want to lend and borrow items, NeighborLend could also offer additional services, such as insurance for borrowed items and concierge services for picking up and delivering items. The platform could generate revenue by charging users a subscription fee or a small fee for each transaction.
Overall, NeighborLend could help people save money and reduce waste by enabling them to borrow items they need from their neighbors, while also providing a convenient and safe platform for facilitating these transactions.
My take: better than many humans
The AI is already better than many entrepreneurs creating a story that is both coherent and convincing.
The idea it generated is shockingly similar to Good Neighbors, my own invented startup. It even added value-add services like insurance and concierge services.
But Good Neighbors is a better name vs NeighborLend. Right?
Turn that into a pitch deck.
Introduction: Our team at NeighborLend is on a mission to help people save money and reduce waste by connecting them with their neighbors who have items they no longer need or use.
Problem: Many people have items that they only need occasionally, such as a lawnmower or a snowblower, but they rarely use them and they take up valuable space in their homes. At the same time, other people may need to borrow these items but they don't know who to ask or they are hesitant to borrow from strangers.
Solution: NeighborLend is a peer-to-peer platform that connects people who want to lend out their unused items with their neighbors who need to borrow them. Our platform makes it easy for people to search for items, contact the person who has them available for lending, and track the status of borrowed items.
Business model: NeighborLend is free for users to join and list their items. We generate revenue by charging a subscription fee or a small fee for each transaction. In addition to connecting people who want to lend and borrow items, we also offer insurance and concierge services to provide added value to our users.
Progress: We have already launched NeighborLend in select markets and have seen strong growth in user adoption and transaction volume. We have also received positive feedback from our users, who appreciate the convenience and cost savings of our platform.
Funding: We are currently seeking $500,000 in seed funding to expand our team and accelerate our growth. The funds will be used to hire additional staff, develop new features and services, and expand into new markets.
Contact: Thank you for considering an investment in NeighborLend. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule a meeting.
My take: better than many humans
This AI-generated pitch deck outline is better than what many entrepreneurs do themselves.
It answers most of the key questions you would have. Eg why don’t people borrow things from their neighbors? What features would be important? What are possible business models?
It lacks detail but remember that I could have gone back and asked the AI to add competition or even financial projections. What you see is only one pass.
How is NeighborLend better than other platforms like Craiglist or Facebook where I can easily buy and sell items?
There are a few key ways in which NeighborLend is better than platforms like Craiglist or Facebook for buying and selling items.
First, NeighborLend is specifically focused on peer-to-peer lending of items that are only needed occasionally, such as a lawnmower or a snowblower. This is different from Craiglist or Facebook, which are more general-purpose platforms that are not specifically designed for lending.
Second, NeighborLend provides added convenience and safety for users who want to lend or borrow items. Our platform includes features such as ratings and reviews, as well as tools for tracking the status of borrowed items and scheduling pickup and drop-off times. This makes it easier and more reliable for people to lend and borrow items on our platform compared to Craiglist or Facebook.
Third, NeighborLend offers additional services, such as insurance and concierge services, to provide added value to our users. This makes us a more comprehensive and useful platform for lending and borrowing items than Craiglist or Facebook.
Overall, while Craiglist and Facebook may be useful for buying and selling items, NeighborLend is a better choice for people who want to lend and borrow items from their neighbors on a peer-to-peer basis.
My take: better than most humans
This definitely invoked an “Oh Shit” moment when I read this. This is a very well-reasoned argument that most VCs would be satisfied with.
I could come up with different and potentially better differentiators. But so could the AI if I asked it to…
What are some unique technologies that would make NeighborLend better?
There are many potential technologies that could be used to make NeighborLend a better peer-to-peer lending platform. Some examples of unique technologies that could be used to improve NeighborLend include:
Machine learning algorithms that improve the accuracy and speed of item search and recommendation.
Blockchain-based systems for tracking and verifying transactions and ensuring the security and privacy of user data.
Geolocation technology that helps users find items that are available in their area.
Augmented reality tools that allow users to see how items would look in their home before borrowing them.
Integration with smart home devices, such as door locks and security cameras, to make it easier for users to lend and borrow items.
Overall, there are many potential technologies that could be used to make NeighborLend a better and more convenient platform for peer-to-peer lending. By incorporating these technologies, NeighborLend could provide a more seamless and user-friendly experience for its users.
My take: better than most humans
I added this question to show how powerful ChatGPT is when you prompt it for even more.
It did a good job identifying obvious technologies like geolocation and machine learning (a bit self-serving wouldn’t you think?).
I really love the augmented reality idea to preview how things would look in your home, like furniture. And the smart home integration was a nice touch.
How to use AI today to help your pitch
It’s easy to find the limitations of ChatGPT. It is, after all, a beta test. But it’s already incredibly useful for anyone creating a pitch deck.
You can use it to compare your pitch against multiple AI-generated versions. You will probably find holes in your story or better language to use.
AI can help you prepare for investor questions. You can tell ChatGPT what your startup does and ask it to ask you difficult questions. I guarantee you’ll get some questions you did not think about.
One thing that surprised me was how useful this type of AI is at ideation. Not randomly generating ideas but suggesting things you didn’t think about. Like the use of AR in the peer-to-peer neighborhood app. Or helping articulate why your solution is better than competitors.
Is this the end of human pitches?
I’m going to keep asking this question until it’s either true or proven to be untrue!
Today, AI is undeniably useful for anyone who needs to create a pitch. It’s like a good advisor, asking the right questions and suggesting other ways to think about things.
Because it’s trained on a massive dataset that includes pitches and startup advice, it intuitively helps you understand how other startups and investors think at a high level.
You still need to have good judgement about what to keep and what to discard, which takes time to develop. You need to have your own strong point of view, both about the company you’re creating and the type of storytelling you want.
The best storytellers know how to take risks and break the rules to create something special. AI can’t do that. Yet. Well, at least not on its own.
I can imagine a day when pitching is obsolete because VCs use AI agents to find and evaluate your company. When that day comes they’ll probably be talking to your AI fundraising agent, not you.
The step after that is letting AI generate its own ideas, create a company, raise money and operate the business.
That sounds fantastic right?
So was the idea that AI could generate your entire startup pitch from one sentence. Up until 6 days ago.