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010 - Anish Jain (Aspire) On Turning Your Computer Into Your Personal Employee

Anish Jain is the founder and CEO of Aspire. Aspire is on a mission to help people pursue and reach their aspirations by having their computer as their personal employee; telling it what to do, the computer will take care of the tasks automatically.



Show Transcription
Samandar Ravshanov 0:00

Hey, The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as a crazy ones, we see genius. Welcome to Triz Show hosted by Samandar Ravshanov. Please briefly introduce yourself to our audience, and then we move on.

Anish Jain 0:57
All right, totally. So my name is Anish Jain, I'm the founder and CEO of Aspire, and we're turning your computer into your own personal employee. So you tell your computer what you want it to do, and then an assistant on it will take over edges, click and type to execute the task. And then when it's done with the task, it's going to hand the computer back to you. Our product is called a ditto after the Pokemon that the kind of mimics you. And if it doesn't know what, what you're instructing it to do, it's going to ask you to teach it and you teach it just like you treat teach a person sitting right next to you. So you start by giving it some instructions and natural language, you then demonstrate the task or a couple times, so it gets a feel for it. It's gonna ask you questions, you're gonna give it answers. So it learns and executes tasks, just like a person.

Samandar Ravshanov 1:54
That's so amazing. You know, what to do really excites me. I think the same was Oh, our listeners. And here I am. I'm so excited. And to ask this question, why you do what you do? What made it to work on this project? What's your vision for a better future? What's the end game here overall? Why? What's your purpose? Why are you just about? What made it to work on this particular project? Yeah, yeah, that's

Anish Jain 2:23
a great story. I felt like like many entrepreneurs, for a while I was focused on incrementalism, I was focused on thinking about the next step in society as a function of what our current problems that exist today, and how can we solve them, then I started to take a step back and realize that some of the most successful or impactful entrepreneurs of all time, were able to instead of focus on incremental ism, they're able to imagine a better future for the world for society. And then basically, baby step, baby step baby step their way back from that future to the present day to figure out what is the next step that needs to be taken? So I spent some time thinking myself, like, what do I see 10 1520 years, and I realized that the entire economy would be completely different. So I think all tasks that we currently do can be broken down into two parts. First is ideation when you're thinking about what to do. And second is implementation when actually executing it. And currently, bosses spend most of their time ideating or grunt level workers and in the organizational hierarchy spend most of their time implementing. But the future that I saw was one where we're basically all bosses, we all focus on ideation, because AI and robots handle that implementation for us. So we could just have an idea, tell it to an AI and boom, it's implemented and do cycles on that extremely quickly, ie exponentiating, the rate of innovation, so the ideation economy, that's the economy of the future. And that's the economy that we enable, that we're looking to enable out of fire. With the with these AI personal workers, so you have an idea to tell it to your personal worker, and then it just takes over does it for you. It focuses on the implementation, you handle the ideation. And the cool part about this is that this is going to be a massive increase in operational efficiency. For those of you don't know operational efficiency is how effectively you're able to transform inputs into outputs in a production environment. So here, we're drastically decreasing the number of man hours to do a task IE increasing operational efficiency. And the goal is to pass on some of those benefits back to the workers by standardizing a shorter work day. So one of the big long term goals with the spire is to standardize for our work day

Samandar Ravshanov 5:00
standardizing for our workday. Great. That sounds. That's but that's just go and and, you know, one, the court came to my mind that I think that you've pretty familiar with David Allen's quote, he says Your mind is for having ideas. Yeah, it's not for holding them. It's for having either, but yeah, here we are. We can be all of them are BOCES if you let ourselves to be creative and focus on doing creative jobs, and there's no way to sync that the robots can take our our jobs. Instead, we focus on knowledge based economy, right? So doing knowledge work, and creative jobs, right. So the everything that should be automated, can be automated will be automated eventually, anyways. Right?

Anish Jain 6:03
Exactly. Yeah, like the purpose of humans is to be creative. Like, I don't think anybody likes getting bogged down in these very monotonous annoying tasks. So imagine we could just be creative all the time and have that annoying stuff abstracted away from us by these robots, these AI assistants that are designed to not give a shit about these these annoying?

Samandar Ravshanov 6:31
Yeah, yeah. So the computers never get bored. Right? So the robot never get bored. Exactly, Joe, huh? That's right, we

Anish Jain 6:42
only have one shot at life, I feel like a huge part of human existence is two things. So one is this idea of creative expression. I think everybody, as as people, we have a right to creative expression. And we might choose to exercise that right in different ways. I am an entrepreneur, some people like to make music in their spare time. But I think that's key. And I think the modern monotony of of much of the work that we do deprives us of that. And second, I think that every person has a right to pursue their aspirations. So are you familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs? Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah. So one of the core hypotheses at Aspire is that in today's society, you can fulfill most lower level needs at a tap of a button, you want food, you got grubhub, you want some self esteem, boost posts on LinkedIn posts on Facebook. But the one need that you can't easily fulfill is this need of self actualization, the highest self will meet on the hierarchy. And what we realize is self actualization largely boils down to the pursuit of one's aspirations. And to pursue your aspirations, three things have to be true. So first is you have to be free, you need to have time and energy to devote to your aspirations. Second is you need to be able you need to have the resources and the tools at your disposal to pursue your aspirations. And third is you got to be inspired, you have to have that fire burning within you overcome the obstacles in your path. So to spire, we chose to do all three, we chose to free people with these AI workers that eventually will help standardize a shorter work day, so we have more time to pursue our aspirations. Second is we choose to enable people by taking 10% of our profits and using them to fuel people's aspirations as part of our social impact. So if somebody wants to be a music producer, but can't afford equipment, they could write up a little application, our teammates, and our customers will pick the winners. And then we'll give back and enable people that way. And then we'll inspire people or social media in our brand, where we will share the aspirational stories of our peers, similar to how Nike shares the athletic stories of athletes, and the doing all three by freeing enabling and inspiring people, we can empower mass self actualization. So there there are two core tenants behind inspire. So one is this idea of the ideation economy. And the second is this idea of mass self actualization. And if we're able to overcome these key technical challenges in the short to medium term, we could really, really make a huge positive dent on the world and society going forward.

Samandar Ravshanov 9:36
Mass self actualization Sounds Sounds so exciting and same time. To me, this requires also the mindset shift right from people. And, yeah, the people who will mobilize right, the people who are one to lead the change, basically. Right? So, and as we know, there is a cycle, there's a cycle of innovation that happens, and wholly saying, What's not going to change in the next 10 years? Why not gonna change? I'm asking guess things that change are so incredibly hard to predict, right? things that change. But things that doesn't change are something that we can rely on and to build long term value. And I'm asking this question from the perspective of customer needs, wholly saying what the thing that customer need, what's not going to change next 10 years,

Anish Jain 10:50
I think the one thing that we're starting to realize is that as much as you can simplify the user experience, the better. Like, theoretically, the simplest user experiences having an idea for what you want. And having that implemented, at least from like, a productivity tool, Stanford, which is kind of the space that we operate in. But like, if you look at commerce, Amazon is is a market leader in this their, their whole thing is lower prices, better experience. And part of their huge experience value proposition is faster delivery times. So I think Bezos has this quote, where he says, as I don't think there's ever going to be a time where if we promise lower prices, or faster delivery times it will be mad. So you can think about it as like decreasing the amount of activation energy on the customer to achieve a certain value, or decreasing the amount of like effort, or in other words, decreasing the amount of effort or the amount of like, negative value, like doing work, people don't like doing work. So if you can minimize that, then that's always good. See, I think I think what value propositions really boil down to is creating experiences for customers. So I don't think companies sell products or services as think they sell experiences. So I think, like, lately, we've been very narrow, focused on products and optimizing that, but the best companies focus on the holistic journey. So I think more people will start optimizing that as well. In terms of customer needs.

Samandar Ravshanov 12:41
So um, you say that we use save time, and so that people can work and do more creative jobs instead. And so, and this is how I actually see, it's about saving people's life, right, basically. So we, we can plan certain things. We have an idea of, we have idea, and we know what to do we have creative, so feel led ourselves to our imagination, imagination go wild, right? So in this if I can implement all those things, and like, I hear I have this right now, sort of cognitive dissonance here. What do you believe that few others do? Like, I see that you see something that I don't see, or many don't see. Right? So what's that conviction? What's that insight that you have that we should know about? Something that's true, but many people believe the opposite.

Anish Jain 13:52
Um, I don't know if this is as much Many people believe the opposite as just people haven't thought of this. So I think the future of how humans will interact with computers is just like we interact with a person. So the progression of computers has actually been the progressive humanization of computers, like humans started, our computers started off as very abstract like zeros and ones, which is kind of the antithesis of this like, irrational, emotional creature that we are. And then slowly, you saw, okay, then the command line came. Now there's point and click software, which famously it's like, literally pointing like you're using your finger. I think the next stage and the final stage is interacting with the computer like you interact with the person. So you converse with it and natural language. And you're starting to see this happen with like voice assistants, or like text, NLP based AI systems as well. But I think the one thing that people are severely missing out on the word not is this idea of teaching and a I'd like to teach the person. So it's one thing for this AI to come pre programmed out of the box to do X, Y, Z, it's another, that if it doesn't know how to do X, then it offers the user a chance to teach it. To do X, just like they teach a person. And this way the AI adapts to the needs and the requirements of the end user, and progressively provides more and more value for them. That's one of the key insights that we have that as far as

Samandar Ravshanov 15:33
I think one way of helping others to believe in what you do is like maybe a Vizio right? You go present us some video that how it will work, right? The concept behind it, right? The whole thing, how that will be basically right. So that will be really exciting to see. Like, as there is a notion of the building hot startups, the MVP of the hot startups are easier because you can make a landing page that's, or you can make a quick video, right? If it's to the moon ideas are of saying, so you can make a really great video about it. I like I really enjoy watching it That will be great.

Anish Jain 16:24
So yeah, that's, that's definitely in the works. On the note of an MVP, I'm not the biggest believer and MVP is because I think we've we've kind of evolved to a point and technology where most valuable companies are not going to be like one off features that you can hack away, in a company like they're going to be entire cultivated experiences. And I think the idea of an MVP is just an excuse to put something half a half done out into the market. So if you're a company with very clear hypotheses on the future, and very clear plan to get there, I feel like an MVP is less needed if you're somebody who's just trying to find like a little incremental. Next step, shutter doing MVP. Also, I think many people just naturally over buys to the idea of an MVP, but forget about the reason. And MVP, the idea of MVP even existed, like the purpose of an MVP was originally to de risk a hypothesis that you had on the market I are there even Is there even a segment that will buy this? Or how much will they pay for it. So if you're operating in a space where you know that if you can deliver the value proposition as you've planned it, that there's going to be a market for it, because what you're doing is taking an existing market and drastically improving the value proposition, then you don't need an MVP, like there's much less market risk here, and much more technical risk. So yeah, we're Yeah, we're not going from from the basis of an MVP, in addition to the fact that part of our our value prop are a huge part of our value proposition is the ease of use for this assistant, like being able to train this assistant with five minutes of training on your end as the user because it simulates interacting with another person. So this is, this is something that if we can nail, then obviously there's a huge market for it, but but nailing it's going to be tough. So we're less focused on de risking the market right now. And way more focus on de risking the technology.

Samandar Ravshanov 18:45
Got it. So basically, I'm here when, when the customer, our needs are important to evaluate. Here we are, we have to use MVP. And so also known as riskiest assumption tests, right? So you have some assumption about the market, and you have to test this out. But when it comes to you when you're 100% sure that there is a need in the market, and not because of your own assumptions, maybe, but because you are replacing the fundamental need of human let's say, also known as jobs to be done, I think that you're pretty familiar with the jobs to be done right. So, where you define what your product, what people hire your product to do, what are people hiring a product to do? So, if you can define this like if you see your product as sort of some like assistant or some sort of an employee right. So for the prospective employee, then it means you are Fulfilling existing need, but with the technology or you making you optimizing it basically. Right,

Anish Jain 20:07
exactly. And I think the most concrete example of how the market has already been validated is through the rise of robotic process automation software, or RPA. So RPA, like, according to Gartner is like the fastest growing software trend in enterprises. And the thing is, there's a reason they added that little footnote of for enterprises, because right now, RPA is prohibitively costly and prohibitively complex for most businesses outside of enterprises. So for example, for UiPath, which is a market leader like one public a couple months ago, for 30 plus billion dollars to give you some shots of the market. If you want to get trained in UiPath, automation development, it's going to take you months. And then if you want to create a single automation, and UI path, it's going to take you weeks. So our whole value prop is that you could get trained in minutes and create an automation in minutes. So we're taking the same value proposition and drastically reducing the activation energy needed to achieve it. ie, we know that if we can do this, there's gonna be a huge market for it.

Samandar Ravshanov 21:23
Yeah, got it. So here, you see that there is already a market leader. And you see you found a fault, like I mean, a technical fold. Right. So it's limitations, you define them limitations, and you solving that limitation, basically, right. And there is no market risk basically, for you. Because since there is already big market, and you already see the signal by big enterprises, even though it's hard to train them, like takes a month, right? Still people are paying for it still people are using it right? It means they will be glad to pay you if you train it for for one minute.

Anish Jain 22:06
Exactly. So I think the closest analogy that you might find is kind of like the the search market in the late 90s, early 2000s. So there are a lot of venture backed players, Yahoo was a market leader, but their user experience was garbage and their underlying product, or the underlying technology to power, that product was garbage. And then you have Google come in with a vastly improved technology, the power to vastly use improve user experience. And over the course of a couple years, they're able to dominate. So even though we have this big incumbent, and USF um, I'm not too worried. I think if we're able to get our technology and obviously cultivate the brand and do effective launch and growth strategies, I think, I think this could be huge. But right now just all boils down to execution.

Samandar Ravshanov 23:03
Yeah, that's so exciting. And you mentioned regarding Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin this the backstory where they they started with the vertical, like academia as a focus on initial on academia, they built a search engine specifically designed for Stanford students, right. And so that they go find the research studies, it's certainly like all the papers needed. So that, like all the libraries, basically, the data, the whole data of the Stanford were in one place initially. So that's the initial use case they had so and what do you see in your case, that will be which can give you an initial sort of so called? Yeah, initial use case.

Anish Jain 23:54
So the initial use case for first bar will be mass copy pasting workflows, we looked at a lot of different potential starting points, talked to like dozens of different potential users. And the biggest set of tasks that consistently came up across these interviews, were copy pasting workflows. And they're the perfect starting point like their spires books. And as I started with books, we're going to start with copy pasting for five reasons. So firstly, the relatively ubiquitous, almost all knowledge workers perform them on a daily weekly basis. Mostly these knowledge workers are outside of tech, so non software engineers, not non data scientists. Second is that it's easy to articulate, therefore easier to sell. Three is that sense, you're basically going from field to field. If the AI messes up, it's more much more simply undone. Fourth is that because these tasks aren't the most nuanced aren't the most complex. It's much easier for this ad to learn them out of the box, therefore provide immediate value. And five is because these use cases are so one off Nobody's going to create automations for them in RPA. So our competitive learning are unable to handle them. So it's like literally the perfect starting point. And right now, we're raising funds to overcome some key technical risks in proving that such a product can be developed for for the desktop, and we're currently raising a $1.35 million pre seed round. And that should cover us basically de risk some of the key technology risk, which we estimate should take about three months, but we're raising to cover the downside of it taking 18 months, ie, requiring a lot more r&d than needed. And after the technology is d resco. will raise another seed round to basically get this out into production.

Samandar Ravshanov 25:48
That's so exciting. So you chose already the user case that's so fundamental and repetitive, right? So called problem that's the problem should be sort of frequency, the frequency of the problem is so important, right? The frequent usage, it leads to frequent usage basically.

Anish Jain 26:13
Exactly. And also I have to jump up another call at 930. Eastern. But this was this was awesome chatting with you. I'm excited to move forward seat scout. I think the work you guys do is awesome.