Showing posts from May, 2024

How I learned to Innovate (a bit more) in Regulated Industries

Here's a short story about how I learned to innovate (a bit more) in regulated industries. In the summer of 2020, Yves Prevoo had got easee in the first Techleap batch. Pretty cool! I was invited to join one of the sessions for the CTOs in which Ali Niknam talked about his adventures. I didn't know anything about him then but I liked him right away as he also wore a black t-shirt and a Casio F91w, my standard outfit. I had been struggling with innovating in a highly regulated industry. I dreaded the yearly ISO 13485 audits and always had the feeling we were doing everything wrong or breaking some law that we didn't know about yet. It didn't help we didn't have anyone with Medical Device experience and it didn't help that we had a very strict auditor. To be frank, I really had no idea how to develop anything new and get it certified without going bankrupt from the clinical trials. I didn't know what to do or how to lead my team in an inspiring way because of

One year of Freelancing as Fractional CTO

I'm taking some time to recharge after struggling as a startup CTO for 5 years (with lots of ups and down). I have been working 40 hours a week in salaried positions from 2010 till 2023, and I decided to take it a bit easy. And with easy I don't mean to not work hard or to do simple work, but to not be 100% committed to a company for the long term. In June 2023 I started freelancing as a Fractional CTO. It's for complicated projects or for companies that don't need a full-time CTO yet. It's been really great. In the past year I've: Posted my availability once in my "goodbye to easee" LinkedIn post. Been hired by 5 companies, who all found me through my own network. Networked more than ever before. I suddenly have time for random meetings throughout the day. Have not started an LLC (BV), nor got insurance, nor opened a separate business bank account. Have signed only 1 contract for my freelance work (but some more NDAs) and almost never committed to a c

Struggle as a Service

For most of us, life is the easiest and most comfortable it has ever been in all of history. We have better healthcare than royalty had 100 years ago, we fly around the world for fun and all the information and entertainment we could ever want is at our fingertips. In most civilized countries there's even decent welfare systems for the have-nots. Although social media and climate change are giving us major anxiety, it sure beats hunger, plagues, world wars or nuclear gloom. Humans have evolved with constant discomfort, and now we're comfortable. This is a reason for boredom and restlessness in the modern world. We want to be challenged and experience risks. Instead of life on easy mode we need struggle. Perhaps this explains why seemingly normal people that have lots of other options start companies that do not make a lot of financial sense. There's a need to prove oneself, to work really hard, and to experience risks. Startups definitely let you do that. Whenever I see Saa

The long long tail of AI applications

Last year multiple companies asked me for advice. " We are evaluating this AI powered product, but do you think it makes sense at all? It seems a bit niche and we think ChatGPT might make this entire thing obsolete soon. " Long tail - credit to Wikipedia My answer so far has always been: "No, bare LLMs are not going to compete with this product." I think that people are failing to understand the distinction between different classes of AI companies. I see it like this: Foundational AI - creating models like GPT-4 (text), Sora (video) etc. Applied AI - using existing models to create smart applications. Note that there are also companies not focusing on AI - they will start lagging behind, let's forget about them ;) There are orders of magnitude  (!)   more companies that will deal with Applied AI than Foundational AI, and they will be very busy for decades to come. Here's why: To get the most out of LLMs, you have to ask the right questions. LLMs have acc