How do you build an AI startup? What’s different about an AI startup compared to a normal tech startup? How do you get VCs to come to you instead of chasing them? If you have these questions in mind, our guest, Vikram Chalana, might have the answer you are looking for.
Vikram Chalana is the founder and CEO of Pictory.AI, an AI video creation tool that can help content marketers create content in a fast and scalable manner. So, if you have an interest in AI and what future it holds, you’re going to love this episode.
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Vikram Chalana on the Practicalities of Remote Work
Christopher and Vikram start off the conversation by talking about the benefits of working remotely. Both have stated that they have enjoyed their work-from-home setups, even after the hustle and bustle of the world has returned somewhat.
They also agree that, despite some backlash, remote work offers advantages, like eliminating commutes and enabling people to work in comfortable, happy environments. Vikram, a startup founder, values hiring talent globally, and that online tools like Slack and Zoom have made it easier to bridge the geographical barrier of work.
Though they acknowledge the desire for in-person interactions sometimes, they could not ignore the practicality of remote work.
Raising money for AI startup: when do you bring on investors?
Christopher and Vikram then discuss the timing of taking in investors and venture capital.
Christopher shares a conversation he had with a friend, a CEO in the AI space, who’s considering significant investment offers. They debate the need for additional funding despite having $5 million already. The friend’s reason for this is because of the demand for compute in AI due to expanding training data, which requires substantial investment. In this case, Vikram agrees that getting more funds makes sense because of the load they are taking as their data lake grows and the computing demand increases.
Vikram, on the other hand, expresses hesitance about raising funds when his SaaS startup is already capital efficient. He grappled with how to allocate the money, but also considers future investments in deep tech. Vikram also emphasizes his approach of launching products even if they are initially embarrassing, highlighting his focus on post-revenue stages for fundraising.
Vikram Chalana on startup valuations and fundraising strategies
Christopher and Vikram then talk about fundraising strategies, emphasizing the risks associated with overvaluation. Christopher shares some cautionary tales about companies that raised large sums at high valuations, only to face significant drops in worth, causing employee dissatisfaction.
Vikram, who favors a conservative approach, highlights his experience in building capital-efficient businesses. He stresses the importance of realistic valuations, suggesting that entrepreneurs should not overvalue their businesses.
They discuss an entrepreneur who achieved a healthy valuation without pushing it to the extreme. Christopher notes the contrasting situations faced by non-AI entrepreneurs struggling to attract VC attention, while AI startups like Vikram’s are sought after.
To hear more from Vikram Chalana and his thoughts on AI Startups, download and listen to this episode.
Vikram Chalana is an experienced business and technology executive with a demonstrated history in the enterprise software and medical device industry.
Before becoming the CEO of Steth IO, Vikram was the co-founder and CTO of Winshuttle – empowering people to transform their ERP-based business. He propelled the company’s technology strategy to support Enterprise, workflow and mobile solutions, helping thousands of customers maximize their investments in enterprise applications such as SAP ERP, Oracle EBS and Salesforce.com.
Prior to Winshuttle, Vikram spent several years in the software industry concentrating on data mining and business intelligence applications. His previous positions included engineering leadership positions at Verathon,Inc. and Insightful Software (now part of Tibco Corp). Vikram is a published author of more than 20 journal articles and holds more than a dozen US and international patents.
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