I Will Build 25 AI Startups in 50 Weeks

Richard Reis
4 min readMar 4, 2024

The title says it all.

This starts today (March 4th 2024) and ends 50 weeks from now (February 17th 2025).

Join me on X to follow along.

Why every 2 weeks?

I was inspired by a mix of Jennifer Dewalt, Peter Levels, and Jon Yongfook.

They’re proof that setting these (pretty arbitrary) deadlines is a powerful way to accelerate learning.

I know this firsthand. In 2016, I turned my ignorance of “adulting” (think taxes and insurance) into a finance post a week challenge. This had me devouring more books, podcasts, courses, and videos on the topic than my sanity would like to acknowledge.

This year, I’ve upped the ante: not only do I have to learn about the topic, I also have to build stuff related to it.

Hence two weeks (roughly one week learning, one week building).

“If you’re not at the leading edge of some rapidly changing field, you can get to one. For example, anyone reasonably smart can probably get to an edge of programming (e.g. building mobile apps) in a year.” — Paul Graham

Why AI?

Viewed through an economic lens:

  1. Wealthier nations have happier citizens.
  2. The key to more wealth is increasing productivity.
  3. Thus, increasing productivity is our most important goal.

Currently, nothing increases productivity — both cognitive and physical — as much as AI.

Here are some examples:

  • Big business: Klarna’s chatbot now eclipses the output of over 700 full-time agents, enhancing their profits by $40 million.

Sidenote: Cutting costs allows companies to reduce prices, making products more accessible to all — a concept Marc Andreessen outlined in his excellent post “Why AI Will Save the World.”

  • Small business: My website, Most Recommended Books, quickly and cheaply translated 2,000 pages into Spanish, a task that would have previously cost us thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours.
  • Individual: Priyaa Kalyanaraman, described as ‘nontechnical’, won a hackathon by developing a tool that the founder of Replit lauded as “more technically impressive than a team of engineers.”

“Before you get to general AI and the possibility of AI having agency […] There’s so much benefit that’s going to come from these technologies in the meantime.” — Jeff Bezos

To put it simply…

This is not hyperbole… One of my goals is to “moneyball my life.”

Why blog about it?

Firstly, writing helps me think better. Explaining a topic sharpens my understanding. And if I err, someone corrects me (this was evident during my finance series challenge).

Secondly, a year ago I amassed a 40-book “AI reading list”… Yet, I’ve only read 3½. Without accountability, one moment I’m studying, the next I’m sidetracked by errands, the next I’m at a zoo shaving a yak.

Going public with my challenge will keep me on track. Pride and fear of embarrassment are huge motivators…

Sidenote: This isn’t building in public. Danny Postma steered me away from the idea of sharing everything. Plus, I tried briefly with MRB, and it led to two very annoying copycats. To echo Biggie Smalls, “bad boys move in silence.”

Why startups?

Books and courses are (in themselves) too abstract. The real learning sticks when I build, ship, talk to users, and iterate.

“The doers are the major thinkers.” — Steve Jobs

But why call them startups? To dodge the (lazy) trap of building something too simple. Anyone can whip up a chatbot using GPT4 and call it “AI”… But that’ll offer them little learning (or worth to others).

Building a startup forces you to think hard. This way, you’ll learn what real problems can be solved with this technology.

Plus, we all have too many ideas. Testing them against reality is how we discover the good ones (which is a point I’ve seen over, and over, and over again).

“[Advice for writers] Assume that you have a million words inside you that are absolute rubbish and you need to get them out before you get to the good ones.” — Neil Gaiman

Having declared my challenge, it’s time to dive back into work!

The first startup launches in two weeks 🙂

25 AI Startups List

I’ll keep track of every launch here.

  1. AI Document Translator: Translate documents cheaply, with superior AI quality. (post here)
  2. AI Hypnosis: Experience hypnosis tailored uniquely for you. (post here)
  3. AI Subreddit Finder: Find relevant subreddits instantly. Without endless browsing. (post here)
  4. Fashion or Disaster: Your personal AI stylist, inspired by Cher from Clueless’ app. (post here)
  5. Blog Memorizer: If Anki and blogs had a baby. (post here)
  6. AI Personalized Resumes: Tailor resume to job descriptions. (post here)

Thanks for reading!

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Richard Reis

"I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other." - Epicurus https://www.richardreis.me/