Podcast Episode 10

The AI Accelerator: Empowering Startups and SMBs

Olga Topchaya, Founder and CEO of Lapis AI Consults, dives into the transformative role of AI in business growth. Discover the intricacies of AI integration, go-to-market strategies, and product development. Gain valuable insights into overcoming challenges in AI adoption for startups and SMBs. Explore the fascinating journey of Olga, from a decade-long marketing career to becoming a leader in the AI domain. Join us as we unravel the dynamic landscape of AI with Olga Topchaya, offering practical advice for businesses venturing into the AI journey.

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Ryan: Welcome, everyone, to the AiFounders podcast show. Our podcast celebrates the remarkable accomplishments of AI innovators, entrepreneurs, and visionary founders, unveiling the captivating stories behind their movements. I’m your host, Ryan Davies, and I am honored to host today’s AI accelerator, empowering startups and SMBs. Our special guest is Olga Topchaya.

Olga: Hi, nice to be here. Thank you for having me.

Ryan: Excellent. A bit about Olga for our listeners—founder and CEO of Lapis AI Consults, a New York consultancy specializing in AI integration, go-to-market strategies, and product development. With her team, they design and create products, facilitating AI integration for businesses. After a decade in diverse marketing roles, Olga transitioned into AI to offer consulting services for startups keen on leveraging AI. She engages heavily on LinkedIn, sharing insights and introducing initiatives like AI training sessions and the AI Accelerator chat, emphasizing a forward-thinking philosophy for businesses to embrace the AI space. Can you share more about your background and journey into the AI industry, especially from your diverse marketing background?

Olga: Sure, I’ve been in marketing for over ten years, mostly with startups and small businesses. My last few years were in tech. After a break from parental leave, I returned during a tech recession. Discovering GPT-3 over a year ago, I saw its potential to transform how we work and do business. Despite skepticism, I dove into self-study, talked to influencers, and learned about prompt engineering. I joined Copy AI, kickstarting my career. More consulting work followed, leading me to start my own company. With a marketing and product background, I partnered with talented AI engineers, forming brilliant collaborations.

Challenges in AI Integration for Startups and SMBs

Ryan: Fantastic! Now, with your consultancy specializing in AI integration, go-to-market strategies, and product development, what are the common challenges startups and SMBs face when integrating AI?

Olga: Several challenges include companies building products heavily reliant on third-party APIs and risking obsolescence if the third party makes changes. Understanding AI capabilities is crucial. Some businesses need to utilize AI more effectively, often limiting it to basic tasks. I help them explore AI’s full potential while considering cost-cutting strategies, especially with recent announcements about the affordability of GPT-4.

Adapting to Rapid Changes in the AI Landscape

Ryan: Open AI’s recent changes have been swift. How do you navigate these rapid shifts, and how does your emphasis on fast learning and adaptation play into the fast-paced world of AI and business?

Olga: Adaptation is crucial in the ever-changing AI landscape. My philosophy, rooted in quick learning and adaptability, mirrors the demands of the fast-paced AI world. Businesses must absorb and adapt swiftly to the evolving AI landscape to stay ahead.

Right now, we’ve seen Sam being fired and hired again. Now it’s Microsoft, right? It’s like the Wild West, and it’ll continue that way. Businesses need to plan for uncertainty; things will change rapidly. When incorporating AI, have a contingency plan. For example, if open AI goes down, switch to Cloud2. Stay informed and embrace change, like with parenting. Read the books, but be prepared to adapt. Think about what you can offer as a business that AI companies can’t take away, like customer service or unique market insights.

Ryan: From your vantage point, what are the most exciting trends or developments for startups and SMBs? What differentiator can embracing these trends create?

Olga: People talk less about agents, but it should be on everyone’s radar. Open AI released GPTs and the AI Assistance API, enabling actions beyond Q&A. Agents can send emails or book appointments. While in the early stages, it’s crucial to think about incorporating them into business operations and products.

Ryan: Looking into the future, how have businesses successfully prepared for the next wave of innovations?

Olga: Setting up Google alerts for topics like LLM, open AI, or Anthropics helps. LinkedIn is valuable for following influencers. Many tech startups and AI companies have Discord channels, where conversations happen. Popping into those and starting conversations can give insights beyond Google News. Don’t rely on mainstream news; it’s like table stakes. Engage in platforms like Discord for richer insights.

AI Integration and Innovation Strategies

Ryan: Any advice for our audience around AI integration and innovation?

Olga: Large language models have underutilized capabilities, like explaining concepts for legal or technical documents, aiding employee onboarding, and cross-team communication. Businesses should explore these options. Elevate knowledge with simple prompts, like “Explain like I’m 10.” It’s a simple yet effective approach. Businesses can benefit from these capabilities, and we help clients understand and implement them. It’s fascinating how simplicity can work effectively. Using the capability is crucial. Important elements of prompt engineering involve teaching employees how to write effective prompts in natural language. This has nothing to do with code. We offer prompt templates that clients find helpful for day-to-day work, but true progress comes when employees understand and utilize the technology. They can upskill, understand, and generate solid content, avoiding the generic and valueless material often seen in AI-generated blogs and ads. Mastering prompt writing is key.

Ryan: Absolutely perfect insight! Everyone wonders where to start, and you’ve addressed many questions. You’re active on LinkedIn; how can our listeners connect with you and learn more about Lapis, the AI Accelerator Chat, and other initiatives?

Olga: Thank you. The website is LapisConsults.com, and I’m more active on my LinkedIn profile, Olga Topchaya. You can also find my writings on the Medium blog platform under the same name. Regarding the Accelerator Chat, you can visit our website, book a 15-minute consultation (pay what you can), and get actionable information about getting started. We also offer customizable one-on-one and group training. Each training is tailored to the unique needs of the individual or company, discovered through a 15-minute discovery call.

Ryan: For our listeners, that’s an immense amount of value! A 15-minute one-on-one consultation at LapisConsults.com can guide you on your AI journey. Olga, thank you so much for sharing your expertise.

Olga: Thank you, Ryan. It was great.

Ryan: This concludes our discussion on empowering startups and SMBs through AI. Thank you, everyone, for joining us on this enlightening journey. Remember, the future is driven by pioneers like our guest, Olga Topchaya. Until next time, stay curious, stay innovative, and keep exploring the boundless horizons of technology. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, please leave a review, subscribe, and share it with others. Your feedback and support help us bring you more amazing content. Until next time, this is Ryan Davies. Take care out there. Stay curious.

About Our Host and Guest

Director of Marketing – Ekwa.Tech & Ekwa Marketing
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Founder & CEO at Lapis AI Consults
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“Adaptation is crucial in the ever-changing AI landscape. My philosophy, rooted in quick learning and adaptability, mirrors the demands of the fast-paced AI world.”

– Olga Topchaya –