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Building A Degrowth Food Startup With Artificial Intelligence
OpenAI's ChatGPT and myself brainstormed an entire business model, name, slogan, and implementation to-do-list for a degrowth food startup
We are on the cusp of experiencing a new technological revolution driven by a new generation of AI. Troy Young from the People vs Algorithms substack explains it really well:
“For years we’ve talked about AI as a powerful but invisible thing that makes other things work better. Like, how the algo made TikTok irresistible. Or, how our proprietary AI makes our ad targeting thing better, etc.
But over the past year or so, we've put the technology in the hands of regular, non-technical people. If the latest AI seems toy-like, therein lies its power to capture the popular imagination and catapult a cascading wave of innovation; manifesting in surprising ways, in places we thought technology would disrupt last.
Creativity is evolving from what we can make to what we can imagine. Our stories are being enhanced and extended by machines. Unexpected connections are being generated.”
The hype you might be seeing right now via newspaper headlines, Twitter, and Linkedin posts is just the beginning as we’ll see several AI advancements converging over the coming years.
In previous issues, I have already highlighted one particular example of how this so-called “Generative AI” can help create a more sustainable world. Namely, the use of text-to-image generation to very seamlessly create images of city streets that envision a sustainable, car-free, and green city transformation. Zach Katz is spearheading this over in the US, having now turned his initial Twitter-based experiments into a platform called Transform Your City, where advocacy groups, citizens, and legislators can create and raise support for new, sustainable AI-driven visions for their neighborhoods.
But now, the attention is shifting away from OpenAI’s DALL-E to the organization’s newest AI: ChatGPT.
And ChatGPT is in essence based on the same AI system as DALL-E but built specifically for chatbot or conversational purposes. The crazy thing is: this is just a research preview that OpenAI made available to the public to get more data and feedback from the millions of users using that are using it now. Next year we might see an even better version and probably lots of open-source alternatives.
Sooooooooo….I wanted to do my own little experiments with this AI and see how it can be used to create new ideas – and new perspectives – that help us create sustainable or regenerative solutions.
So I tested if ChatGPT could help me create a concept for a food startup that champions the principles of degrowth. And let me tell you that the results are quite impressive!!
Here is the Google Doc with the entire conversation – or rather brainstorm – that I had with ChatGPT, including some additional comments. And trust me, it’s worth reading the whole thing:
And here is a little summary of the actual outcome, the business concept that the AI and myself developed. Please do use the comments to give me (…us? 😅) feedback! Would be cool to actual develop this concept even further! Oh, and I also used DALL-E to create some visuals for it:
Name: FOOD IN TRANSIT
Slogan: Connecting communities through food and transit.
Mission: To create a network of community gardens, small-scale farmers, and consumers who work together to support the use of permaculture-based and regenerative agriculture techniques, and to build more resilient and sustainable communities through collaboration, participation, and the use of public transit.
Product/Service: A ticket that enables customers to ride public transit and pick up locally-grown food from community gardens that practice permaculture-based or regenerative agriculture.
The public transit ticket 🎟️ connection was the main out-of-box, novel idea that the AI gave me, and I think something that doesn’t really exist out there yet. But it might actually be a very cool business model using a public transit ticket as access to certain sustainable or degrowth services in a city (see long-term business strategy below). Lots of win-wins in there for the different stakeholder.
Additional services: Some community gardens will offer gardening and food preservation workshops and provide spaces for customers to work remotely, in nature, in the garden from where they get their vegetables.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Partnership and integration with public transportation. And the empowerment of community networks and resilience within city neighborhoods.
Long-Term Business Strategy: Creating a degrowth city ticket that gives holders access to all kinds of degrowth-related services in the city or neighborhood.
A few more variations or visual assets, all again created by AI:
The entire brainstorm with ChatGPT took maybe an hour, max. If you browse through the Google Doc, you’ll see that the AI’s responses sparked some new ideas on my end and helped me zoom in on specific elements very quickly. What’s amazing is that the AI can easily convert anything into simple to-do lists or step-by-step guides. That way a brainstorm and casual conversation can extremely quickly transform into a very actionable and easy-to-work-through implementation list. And I am of course only touching the surface here. One could of course also integrate certain frameworks and models into this: e.g. “Can you analyze this using from a first principles approach or a design thinking approach?……”. And also explore all of the specific elements of the business plan:
potential customers – e.g. “what characteristics are we looking for with regard to our target market?”; “how could I best reach them?”; “using the design thinking approach help me understand the customers for this better”;…..
packaging – e.g. “what packaging is best suitable for our degrowth focus?”; “what’s the best reusable packaging item we could use for our packaging, that customers might already have at home?”;…
marketing – e.g. “turn this business concept into a LinkedIn promo”; “create copy for the home page of the business”; “how can we create a regenerative marketing campaign for this business?”,…
sales/financing – e.g. “turn this into a pitch deck”; “write a super engaging copy for a pitch presentation about this business idea, that would convince investors”;…
In the end, this is a very interesting and very powerful new tool that – if used in the right, creative way – can definitely help you come up with some new ideas - very quickly. However, it is, of course, not a silver bullet that will help you immediately solve the grand challenges we are facing. But I think it could still come in handy to develop more out-of-box ideas to transform our current exploitative systems into regenerative ones.
Let’s keep exploring!
That’s it for this week!