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Written by: Dan Dragicevich


The 149th running of the infamous Kentucky Derby took place roughly a week and a half ago and the 1st leg of the triple crown did not disappoint with “Mage” coming out on top and being awarded the blanket of roses.

I have never been to Churchill Downs for “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” but it’s definitely one of my top 3 bucket list activities. I mean, how could it not be, stepping into the atmosphere at the Kentucky Derby is like being transported into a realm where time-honored traditions, spirited revelry, and equestrian excellence merge into an extraordinary spectacle. The air is alive with a symphony of sounds echoing through the grandstands, you look around and see a kaleidoscope of colorful dresses, dapper suits, and extravagant hats, you take a deep breath and the sweet scent of mint juleps fills your lungs, all while the sun beats down to remind you that spring is finally here.

Funny enough, in the world of venture capital, there’s a “horse race” of their own taking place, with generative AI jockeying for most VCs’ attention.

As we all know, 2023 has been a down year when it comes to VC activity, but the emergence of AI-powered startups has given founders a reason to believe they still have a shot at winning the race. 

Despite the current economic environment and VCs being a bit stingy with their capital, money is still pouring into generative AI startups. In fact, according to PitchBook, in Q1 2023, roughly $1.7B was generated across 46 deals, and an additional $10.68B worth of deals were announced in the quarter but have not been completed. On top of that, funds like Fusion Fund, Scale VC, and Ascend Venture Capital, have seen an increase in AI-generated startups by nearly 80%.

So if you’re a jockey (founder) building your own tech company, what does all this mean for you? How do you get your horse over the finish line first? Well, in simple terms, it means that you should be thinking of how to leverage and/or integrate AI into your business if you’re not already. Here are 3 examples of how to utilize AI when building your business.


  • Automation and Process Optimization: Founders can automate repetitive tasks and optimize internal processes using AI. The minutia of an early-stage company can be detrimental to its growth. AI can make routine activities seamless allowing founders to focus on what’s important.


  • Optimizing Customer Engagement: Understanding your customer base is essential when building out your Go-to-Market strategy.  Founders can leverage AI to optimize a number of key customer metrics like preferences, behavior, and demographics.


  • Market Research and Competitive Analysis: Need to know what your competitors are up to? Need to understand market trends based on vast amounts of data? AI can handle all of it by extracting relevant information based on specific prompts it’s given. It can even monitor social media campaigns!

Now, instead of worrying about which jockey will beat you to the finish line, be like your horse, put your blinders on, and just run your race! And remember, early-stage investors care more about the jockey (YOU) and less about the horse… ON YOUR MARK… GET SET… GO!!


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