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AI and brand equity: 6 trends for founders looking toward the new tech revolution

Founder and event organizer Seema Alexander breaks down the developments that will shape entrepreneurship for the next 15 years and beyond.

What should tomorrow's founders do with AI and other emerging tech? ( Quinn/made with SDXL 1.0)

In February 2009, published our first article. Fifteen years later, we're still here — but a lot has changed. We're celebrating our anniversary with a look back, and a look forward.

This is a guest post by Seema Alexander, a co-chair of DC Startup Week, cofounder of Virgent AI and founder of Disruptive CEO Advisory. It was written as part of a series celebrating's 15th anniversary.
What if I told you entrepreneurship will never be the same?

As someone deeply invested in the community — co-chair of DC Startup Week, the premier nexus for entrepreneurs, founders and investors in the DC, Maryland and Virginia region; founder of Disruptive CEO Advisory; and cofounder of Virgent AI, a new studio developing AI agent solutions — I’ve had the distinct honor of supporting thousands of entrepreneurs’ growth across a myriad of industries, including emerging tech.

These experiences have afforded me a unique viewpoint on key trends that will redefine the trajectory of creating, growing, and scaling businesses and brands.

Why all the dramatics?

We are in what may be society’s most unprecedented era of technological innovation. It’s the next industrial revolution, marked by the convergence of artificial intelligence’s mainstream impact, the creation of real-world assets that leverage blockchain and Web3 technologies, and the realization of quantum computing.

This means, in my opinion, that the very fabric of entrepreneurship will undergo some major shifts.

Gary Gensler, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, noted at a recent talk at the National Press Club in DC that AI alone is “as big as the advent of the internet and the innovation of the first car.” But this trifecta is way bigger.

The internet’s arrival led to a paradigm shift in business. Search, keywords, SEO, online ads, online funnels, reviews, and the like are all relatively new, once-incomprehensible ways to get the word out for your business.

Over time, many businesses that didn’t hitch onto the online marketing bandwagon lost out to more prominent competition — or, at the least, stagnated in their growth.

Here are some key trends for current and future entrepreneurs to digest and understand what these fundamental changes, especially with regard to AI, will mean for launching and growing over the next few years and beyond.

1. The AI revolution: A paradigm shift in entrepreneurship

With technologies like ChatGPT and other large language models going mainstream in 2023, we’re only scratching the surface of their potential.

This tech can revolutionize business operations, customer experiences and workforce efficiency, offering a real competitive edge. AI’s applications range vastly, from intelligent chatbots enhancing user service to sophisticated predictive analytics, personalization and autonomous decision-making agents. Founders must decide whether to integrate off-the-shelf AI tools into their existing tech stacks or develop custom AI-powered solutions to stay ahead.

Implications: To stay competitive, entrepreneurs need to view AI as a fundamental business driver, not just a technological upgrade. This requires a mindset shift toward embracing AI as a core component of business strategy, focusing on how AI can enhance value creation and competitive differentiation.

2. The emergence of AI-first businesses

New ventures are increasingly being built with AI at their core, not just as an add-on. This trend toward AI-first businesses represents a shift in how companies will approach product development, customer engagement and market positioning.

Implications: If you are a new founder, you must consider leveraging business AI from day one. That could involve reimagining products and services with AI at their core to optimize customer experience and operational efficiency.

3. Workforce shifts: Balancing human intelligence and AI-assisted innovation

Successful businesses will be those that find the optimal balance between using AI for tasks, using it for data-driven decision-making and predictive analytics, and relying on human brainpower for creativity, thought leadership and empathy-driven work.

Implications: The shift requires a reevaluation of talent strategies, with a focus on fostering a culture that embraces AI as a tool for augmenting, and not replacing, worker capabilities. We live in a world where people have to do mundane tasks because they lack other options.

Imagine one where your employees can work on things they truly are good at and care about. Imagine the fulfillment and productivity in their jobs. The future will be one where human and AI collaboration is the norm.

4. AI agents will become synonymous with your augmented workforce

Echoing Bill Gates’ prediction that “in five years, everyone will have an AI agent,” the integration of AI agents into business and personal life is inevitable. These AI agents, capable of performing tasks ranging from scheduling to customer service, will be indispensable for entrepreneurs and enable them to free up time for high-value outcome work while automating operations.

Implications: Building on what I’ve already said, founders must carefully plan the incorporation of AI agents into their business frameworks, treating them as central to their operations, customer and workforce strategy. This integration involves not just adopting AI tech but also considering their cooperation with existing processes and systems, thus ensuring a seamless and future-proof business model.

5. Branding shifts: The rising importance of brand equity

An AI-driven market will bring about increasingly crowded industries, so the importance of establishing brand equity and expert positioning cannot be overstated.

AI can facilitate understanding customer preferences and tailoring brand messages, but the core values and emotional connections that only a brand can establish with its ideal customers will always help distinguish it from competitors.

Implications: Some believe expertise will be lost due to all the AI tools available on the market. But I strongly believe, even in an AI-saturated market, that the unique storytelling and values of a brand will become even more critical than it is today.

A robot sitting at a desk working on a laptop.

Generative AI image prompt: “photorealistic image of a humanoid robot typing on a laptop in an office with a view.” ( Quinn, made with SDXL)

6. Marketing shifts: From traditional to dynamic, predictive and personalized

AI’s customer data analysis abilities will transform marketing strategies, allowing unprecedented levels of personalization. Entrepreneurs will need AI not only to target their marketing more effectively but also to anticipate market trends and customer needs.

Implications: The trend toward AI-driven personalization in marketing demands that entrepreneurs adopt a more nuanced understanding of their customers. This means investing in AI products that analyze customer data in real-time, enabling both personalized marketing strategies and predictive analytics.

While business fundamentals will never change, technology always will

With these new advances on the horizon, the future of entrepreneurship and growth is not only about adapting to change: It’s about reimagining possibilities, driving transformational innovation and achieving meaningful scale in ways we never imagined as founders.’s 15 years of articles have highlighted that the journey of entrepreneurship and technology is one of constant evolution and adaptation.

Although the fundamentals of business will never change, technology will and has. There’s no reason to feel scared or overwhelmed; instead, this piece is intended to showcase the opportunities in what’s on the cusp — and, in some cases, what’s already here.

My passion will always lie in helping businesses find their unique positioning and become sought-after brands. Technologies like AI, if leveraged ethically and properly, could help you increase your impact and profit a hundredfold, like nothing I have seen before.

Here’s to that future.

Series: 15th Anniversary

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