Welcome to our founder lessons series. Today, Aiko AI founders reveal how they aim to improve our world by integrating artificial intelligence.
Aiko AI is a young startup challenging the way we use technology. We’re integrating artificial intelligence with everyday products to help the general public reap the benefits of recent advances in technology.
Our core suite includes Aiko Meet (an AI video chat platform with subtitles and call transcripts), as well as Aiko Words, which is a document analysis tool, and Aiko Mail, an AI-integrated email client that automates the inbox.
Why and how did you start Aiko AI?
Aiko started as a pet project and a pipe dream by a high school student who was annoyed by reading long, long papers. It was built as a summarization tool with various NLP tools to help analyze a document as fast as possible, and has been evolving ever since!
Ruben and Priansh first met at a young AI startup and bonded as the youngest employees in the company. Over time they became good
Two years down the road, they decided to take a chance and pursue their passions, and went fulltime on Aiko. Ruben quit his job and moved to Asia to cut costs, while
They began working fully remotely, day and night, building out a seamless suite of products, raising leads and growing the startup. Their objective was clear: to cure their messy inboxes and make it easier to schedule meetings, answer questions and get things done. It was a long, uphill road filled with development hurdles, personal sacrifices and hands-on sales.
Soon, coordinating between their opposing time zones along with those of international clients became a major challenge, and one that they worked hard to solve. This gave birth to a suite of tools aimed to solve the challenges they faced, each carefully vetted through hours of trials with small business owners, everyday makers and Fortune 500 executives. The goal of Aiko had evolved into solving everyday challenges with artificial intelligence, and bringing the benefits of AI to the general public.
After a gruelling few months, Aiko was finally ready for the public. On March 6, 2019, Aiko Meet, an AI-powered video chat, was launched on Product Hunt, quickly rising to the #1 Product of the Day.
It was a fairy tale moment for Aiko, which didn’t expect such rapid growth, but one that quickly turned into a warzone as they rushed to scale their infrastructure to support an enormous spike in users. After a very caffeinated 36 hours, the traffic finally decreased to a steadier rate and the duo all but collapsed.
It’s been a wild journey for the team at Aiko, and the road ahead is bound to be bumpy. Ruben and Priansh are just young entrepreneurs with big hearts and bigger dreams, trying to make their way in the universe.
What has been the biggest success factors?
Ruben and Priansh are makers at heart, and consider one of the greatest factors in Aiko’s success to be the support they receive from the larger maker community. Makers are individuals who use their skillsets, ranging from design to technical expertise and more, to bring their imagination to life.
Aiko’s co-founder Ruben mentions that “the maker community at large has been very supportive, giving us feedback and advice along the way that has definitely contributed to improving
Aiko also considers their supportive network to be a great factor in their success. “We built close relationships with others in the space and reached out to network in any way we could, because we knew those relationships would come into play in providing us with meaningful connections and the advice we needed to build a new company,” Priansh adds.
Aiko has gained somewhat of a following online and the founders regularly attend networking events in an effort to learn more and build business relationships that last a lifetime. Aiko attributes much of their early success to acting on the advice they received from other founders.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company?
One of Aiko’s early challenges was to coordinate the development of the product. Whether it was attending college or working a fulltime job, the founders feel that the early stages of the product were filled with distractions and development progressed at a much slower pace than expected as a result.
As a result, Ruben quit his job and
The founders also consider their youth to be an obstacle they have faced before, and can recall several instances when their ideas have been dismissed as impossible due to their age. “It can be incredibly off-putting at times to hear someone dismiss our fulltime venture as nothing more than a small project, and on several occasions people have asked when we were going to come back to reality.
The fact remains that this is our reality, it’s something we believe in and something we intend to see out to the bitter end,” says Priansh. The duo aim to build a track record of proven success that will stand on its own, and hope their dedication and sleepless nights act as a statement of their devotion to Aiko and to their vision.
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
While the Aiko team considers
It’s an opinion many have agreed with in the
Of course, this does not mean that working with the right team is any less important. In fact, most investors have stated that they invest in the team and their vision, not the product.
Final words for those chasing the startup dream
For those chasing the startup dream, Aiko’s founders warn to watch out for “the last 10%.” They’re of course referring to the famous 90/90 rule: “the first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10
It’s humorous but represents a common challenge faced by makers, and the founders agree that what they have often considered the home stretch has turned out to be quite the hike.
“It’s important that you don’t forget to ship. Adding features are cool and I’ve gotten lost with that before, but I’m glad someone woke me up and reminded me to ship,” Priansh advises.
It’s an important part of the maker philosophy–to always keep shipping! The founders also encourage others to take risks, with Ruben stating “it’s okay to make sacrifices to pursue what you’re passionate about.” The duo have decided not to go the traditional route and take the road less travelled, and heavily recommend others to do the same.