Startup San Diego Tech Report Episode 2 Wrap Up: MWC, SXSW, & CPG AI Glow-up

Posted: March 27, 2024

By Ella Napata

Startup San Diego Tech Report Episode 2

The second episode of the Startup San Diego Tech report featured a conversation between Cheryl Goodman, Vice Chair of Startup San Diego, and Bryan Landers, AI Product Designer at Zapier.  Cherly and Bryan discussed major announcements and innovations from  Mobile World Congress and SXSW. We also welcomed special guest Carolyn Hamlet, CEO & Co-founder of Oku, to review what a CPG brand can do to leverage AI in their business.

View the Livestream

Mobile World Congress Major Announcements

Mobile World Congress (MWC) was a major focus of the discussion because it’s one of the major trade shows that set the pace for innovation and new technology trends in the coming year. Bryan highlighted Qualcomm’s announcements at MWC as particularly exciting. Qualcomm launched an AI hub and partnered with Hugging Face, an open-source marketplace for AI models. Qualcomm’s AI hub is embracing open source and engaging with the developer community around deploying AI on mobile devices.

Humane AI device was also on display at MWC. Humane AI is a handheld device that uses pico projection technology instead of a traditional screen and app interface. Cheryl and Brian saw devices like Humane AI as potential replacements for smartphones, moving away from the “app economy” towards more integrated, AI-driven experiences.

Cheryl and Bryan noted that these new AI-powered form factors could help reduce constant screen time and smartphone addiction. As the technology seamlessly integrates into daily life, users could interact with AI assistants in a more natural, ambient way rather than staring at a screen.

The MWC discussion centered on how AI will enable new device designs and user experiences beyond traditional smartphones and apps. Major tech companies like Qualcomm are investing in AI capabilities and open ecosystems to power these next-generation AI devices and services at the mobile edge.

South by Southwest and AI Tool Overload

SXSW was highlighted as a key event alongside Mobile World Congress and CES, where major announcements and newest technologies are showcased. Beyond the startup and VC angle, SXSW was portrayed as the culmination of technology, music, movies, and cultural events. Cheryl highlighted AMD’s fireside chat at SXSW, discussing how their computational power enabled award-winning films like Avatar through advanced graphics rendering.

The discussion linked SXSW’s celebration of creativity across media and entertainment to the emergence of AI image and video generation capabilities showcased at the event. SXSW was framed as a key milestone for startups, investors, and creatives to tap into the latest AI breakthroughs, enabling novel content creation.

How Can a CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) Brand Leverage AI?

Carolyn Hamlet, CEO of the healthy energy gummy company Oku, joined the conversation to share her perspective as a founder who integrates AI into her business workflows.

Carolyn expressed the initial excitement of trying tools like ChatGPT and the subsequent overwhelm of having to piece together multiple AI solutions for different needs like product design, copywriting, social media content creation, and video generation.

Despite the complexity, Carolyn saw immense potential for AI to be a force multiplier for Oku and other startups with limited resources. By leveraging AI, she can get more done with her small team than by hiring specialists for each function. The AI tools also allow founders to stretch investment dollars further.

The discussion turned to finding the “low-hanging fruit” use cases that provide the most immediate ROI when integrating AI. Both Carolyn and Bryan agreed that marketing, customer service, and automating communications were among the most viable starting points.

However, they acknowledged the lack of seamless, integrated AI workflows is still a major hurdle. AI tasks often require chaining multiple disconnected tools together through multi-step processes. The panel agreed that these disjointed workflows will evolve into smoother, unified experiences as AI becomes more embedded into standard productivity platforms.

Carolyn’s journey implementing AI at Oku highlighted both the exciting opportunities and the steep learning curve that founders must navigate in this era of rapid AI advancement.

Wrap Up and Stay Connected to the San Diego Startup Ecosystem!

Startup San Diego Tech Report Livestream provides valuable insights into the latest AI trends and tools emerging from major events like Mobile World Congress and South by Southwest. Hosts Cheryl and Bryan explored the excitement and overwhelming surrounding AI capabilities with guest Carolyn Hamlet, CEO of Oku. Key discussions included integrating AI for marketing, design, and customer service to drive startup efficiency

The show wrapped up with local events for the San Diego startup ecosystem. Make sure to stay on top of all things tech and check out the San Diego Startup Calendar.