From face recognition to virtual personal assistants and robots, AI has seen huge advancements and unprecedented applications in the past few years – thanks to recent significant developments in algorithm-based deep learning.
But while it’s more common to accept that a machine could help you with a mundane task, would you take serious business advice from an AI-powered “consultant”?
If you’re willing to embrace this concept then look no further than BRiN, a Sydney-based company whose founder Dale Beaumont claims it to be the world’s first AI-powered personal business advisor application.
Referring to the mobile application as “she”, the site describes BRiN as “smart”, “interactive” and holding “the answer to almost every problem faced by small business owners around the world”.
Beaumont, who started his career as a business advisor just after finishing school – and has published 16 books on the topic since – says that the idea of BRiN came about during a visit to Vietnam in 2014 where he got chatting to a local shop owner who was struggling to grow his business.
“After returning home I discovered that there are over 500 million small to medium business owners (SMBs) on the planet. And sadly over 50 million businesses (1 in 10) fail each year,” he says.
Given the scale of the problem, he realized that conventional thinking and existing methods based on one-to-one coaching, meet-ups or even live events weren’t enough to solve this problem. “That’s when I turned to technology and started building BRiN,” explains Beaumont.
So how does BRiN work?
Dale Beaumont, Founder and CEO of BRiN. Source: BRiN.
Beaumont describes BRiN as a smart-phone app that’s capable of providing “personalized education and human-like support to every entrepreneur on the planet”.
All you have to do is download the app, start chatting with BRiN about the nature of your business problem after which it will link you with the most relevant and helpful content for your case.
“We have just released phase one of our product, which is our content library. In the app you’ll find 500 TV-quality business education videos and in less than six months that number will exceed 1000,” adds the 35-year-old.
Following the in-house made content, Beaumont and his 22-strong team are now working on the AI side of the product, which when released, he believes will have the power to help millions of business owners, 24/7.
Beaumont’s projections for BRiN are global. With a team based out of Sydney, Australia and the Philippines, he has plans to open an office in San Francisco in 2017, a major hub for tech entrepreneurs.
The company has raised $1.7 million in funding, which has enabled it to build a production facility and create a vast library of content. So far, the app has hit over 5,000 downloads in just one month since its launch, and the goal is to reach 50,000 active users soon.
“Once this number is achieved,” adds Beaumont, “we will then respond to user feedback to create the right paid subscription levels. These subscriptions will give users access to exclusive content, premium features and live streamed events.”
But that’s not all. The team’s longer term goal is to connect BRiN through API to the users’ CRM, Google GOOGL +1.46% Analytics, and even their cloud-based accounting software. Once that’s in place, BRiN will be able to find useful stats and information more efficiently while at the same time possess personalized features such as congratulating you on increasing traffic, sharing an inspirational quote and even cracking a joke to lighten up your mood on a particularly tough day.
However, the human element is not totally absent in BRiN, even with the presence of an AI-powered system.
As someone with extensive business advising experience, Beaumont knows first hand how important it is to have a human touch in such a field.
“Because we are dealing within the area of business advisory, it’s important that we give sound advice… and for this reason we are developing the first stages of our AI with human advisors. Essentially it’s a process of sitting down with hundreds of consultants and mapping out their process of coaching clients and getting to solutions. Then we program all of this responses using computer-logic to ensure the highest quality and speed for the end-user,” he says.
Only after reaching its goal of programming thousands of business conversations, the company will roll all of its content into a cognitive system, such as IBM IBM +1.53%’s Watson.
“So in short, it’s a case of the best of man coupled with the best of machine,” explains Beaumont.