Many entrepreneurs are told the best way to get advice from mentors is to join accelerator and incubator programs. While those are undoubtedly helpful, one Tampa-based entrepreneur wanted a solution for the majority of business owners who never make the cut for the elite programs.
“Ninety-seven percent of all startups that apply to programs get denied,” Satyam Ramphal said. “That ultimately leaves them abandoned and having experienced that myself, it is one of the biggest problems I had. So I built a virtual bot to facilitate and take care of those problems.”
Ramphal launched AI tech company XiByte in 2017, which offers “Maya” to help entrepreneurs. Maya is an AI-powered virtual assistant, created to help companies specifically decrease the time spent on research, development and operations.
“The R and D and data we have gotten from our own experiences and our advisor network, our internal network and throughout the nation,” he said of the company’s partner network, adding they are in talks to partner with the Kauffman Foundation as well. “We spent 10 months gathering partners, hand-picking them and speaking to them individually. Each one of them has the same mission as us and that’s to power entrepreneurs.”
Officially deployed in 2019, Maya now has roughly 15,000 users. The company is based in Tampa with five full-time employees. The company is currently completely bootstrapped but hoping to close a seed round by October.
“We’re trying to reduce the amount of failures startups go through, especially during this time there’s been a higher acceleration of startups failing,” Ramphal said. “We have seen a spike (in use) during (the coronavirus pandemic) and our value to entrepreneurs during Covid-19.”
In fact, XiByte is offerings its services for free for a limited time to any company that has been impacted by coronavirus.
And it’s turning its attention toward helping student entrepreneurs in its next phase. The company is in talks with University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, University of Miami, University of Florida and incubator/accelerator programs in Tampa and Orlando.
“Schools would use in their entrepreneur program or their incubator program,” Ramphal said. “Rather than having an advisor that you set up a meeting with and then wait for that day, you schedule the meeting and speak to them and then go operate. You can pull it right out of your pocket and have it at your fingertips. She’s there to motivate and you get you off the ground.”