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Top 10 Prompts for Startup Founders

Top 10 Prompts for Startup Founders


Entrepreneurship is a vast pursuit that requires much more than ten artificial intelligence prompts for success. With its complexity and multifaceted nature, starting a company requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance for success.

Nevertheless, throughout the history of humanity, we as a species have been particularly adept at inventing tools that assist us to tackle challenges far greater than we could tackle on our own. Fast forward to 2023, humans have developed the newest tool in our arsenal: generative AI.

That’s all AI is! It’s a tool that we can use to tackle bigger challenges.

The challenge of creating a startup sounds like it lends itself well to this new AI tool. Indeed, aspiring founders must be prepared to cover a wide range of topics, from conducting market research to building a team, from developing a business idea to raising capital. A tool that is able to take our many questions and distill it into useful information for us is perfect for tackling all of these areas. The only difficulty is knowing how we can make the tool work for us and achieve our desired outcomes.

If you’re an aspiring startup founder and want to use AI to help you along the way, this article is for you. You’ll discover the 10 prompts that’ll kickstart your entrepreneurial journey in many of the facets that you’ll have to tackle as a founder.

To better categorise the many hats a founder juggles, the prompts will be bucketed into the following five themes:

  1. Forming the business
  2. Building the business
  3. Marketing & selling
  4. Hiring talent
  5. Raising funds

Forming the Business

1. Conducting Market Research


To kick off the startup journey, the founder needs to know the market that the company is entering. What are the trends of the market? What is its growth rate? What are business ideas based on all of this information?

Market research involves asking lots of questions about the current state of affairs. All of these questions are important, and answers should be found. But it’s hard! It’s time-consuming! Where shall the information come from? How can so many questions be answered in a short period of time?

AI is the perfect tool to solve this. We can pose many questions simultaneously to our AI-cofounder, and it will be able to interpret everything asked of it. This is due to AI’s nifty property called a context window - effectively the window of text that an AI can use to inspire its results. Even free versions of AI models can absorb and understand north of 2000 words at once!

So try it out! Enter all of the questions you have at once into the prompt box, and watch as the AI is able to walk you through an answer to every single one of your questions. It’s an efficient way to get a rapid birds-eye view of an industry you care about!

Note: various AI tools are trained on data from a certain period of time. For example, ChatGPT is trained on 570GB of textual material from up to September 2021. The answers that an AI model is able to produce are dependent on the model’s training data. In other words, ChatGPT is unable to give you data for your questions from after September 2021. Nevertheless, AI models are an effective tool to get the important trends up to a recent time.

2. Analysing Competitors


Next up: who are your competitors? Although this is part of market research more generally, competitor analysis is so important that it deserves its own special prompt.

The purpose of this prompt is not to give you a comprehensive overview of all the competitors in your field. We can’t expect artificial intelligence to have full oversight of the ever-changing world. Nevertheless, AI is great at finding companies that offer similar products and services to the problem you are solving for. All you need to do is to tell your AI-cofounder the problem that you want to solve.

Give the prompt a go. You may think that the output has some uninteresting low-hanging fruit. Yet what’s great about the prompt is that each competitor is accompanied with a description of exactly how they might be tackling the same problem you identified. From this, you should have plenty of inspiration to continue investigating deeper, thanks to the AI’s suggestions.

3. Generating User Personas


How can we figure out who the target demographic of our startup idea is? Knowing who we are targeting and selling to is essential in our quest to find product-market fit. Amazingly, we can use AI to conceive of sample user personas that embody the type of customer that the AI thinks would use our product or service.

With this prompt, all we need to do is feed in the industry our startup is in, the product/service our startup offers, and finally any seed ideas we have (what the problem we’re trying to solve is, what our vision is, etc.). In return, we get a very comprehensive analysis of who our target customer is! Of most benefit to focus on is the identified set of goals, pain points, and important features for our offering. Use this to help you dial in your product offering.

Building the Business

4. Planning Agile Sprints


The first three prompts help to kickstart the formation and beginning of your startup. Let’s turn our focus to building the business.

While we build our startup, we are continuously checking whether we have product-market fit (i.e. whether there is a direct marriage of needs and desires from the market with the provision of our startup’s product/service). The only way we can truly assess if we’re successful on that front is if the product is in the hands of our customers! It is through interacting with your idea that users and customers will give meaningful feedback. That feedback serves to adjust your approach and get you closer to product-market fit.

How do we get feedback quickly? We need to start with the simplest form of our solution, and then continuously iterate based on how our users respond. We don’t simply hide away to create a big reveal and hope for the best.

The development process we choose must have close interaction with the end user at every step of the way. To do so, let’s use an Agile methodology. Agile works on the concept of Sprints – fixed-length time chunks in which, by the end of a Sprint, you can ship a functioning version of your product to users to get feedback. Their feedback informs you of changing priorities and influences your work for the following sprint.

We can use AI to plan out Sprints for our startup, using our value proposition as the overall goal and the MVP as the initial iteration we want to accomplish. Let’s leave it to the AI to figure out how long each Sprint should be and how many Sprints there should be.

With this template, your project will have more structure, and you as the founder will have more confidence that you will be receiving feedback frequently at vital stages.

5. Finding your MVP


Arguably the most important stage in creating a startup, we want to test our startup hypothesis with as few resources as possible (cheapest, fastest, easiest way to solve our problem), just to see if customer’s like our idea.

The goal of finding a MVP is to create the most basic version of our product that contains just enough features to satisfy the needs of early customers. We want our MVP to be implementable quickly, cheaply, and impactfully. We want to validate any assumptions we’ve made, test the market for our idea, and learn from real user interactions. Combining all these factors together, we can deliver core functionality with minimal resources, reducing risk and time-wasted building a product that doesn’t have true product-market fit.

In recent years, there have been excellent examples of great MVP’s from some of the contemporary world’s biggest companies. Amazon initially focussed solely on ordering books through the internet, with Jeff Bezos himself purchasing and delivering the books to the intended recipients. Dropbox only created a video to showcase their file-syncing idea, allowing them to gauge interest without wasting time on product development. Airbnb started with only a simple web page with an ad to rent an air bed in Brian Chesky’s apartment.

It doesn’t need to take much to get your idea in the open and start gaining feedback. What’s great is that now our AI-cofounder can help with some of the creativity needed to break down a problem / idea / value proposition into a simpler MVP. This prompt is inspired by the great examples of Amazon, Dropbox, and Airbnb.

Give it a go yourself - see what your idea’s MVP is!


6. Analysing Resumes


Building a successful startup hinges on a highly-skilled team executing your vision. Trust and culture are essential, but it’s such a time-consuming and involved process to search for the perfect early hires to bring onto your team.

To jump over this hurdle, we can use AI to help us identify talent that align with our startup culture. If we input the job title we’re hiring for, the culture and values of the startup, and then paste the candidate’s resume, we can ask for a SWOT Analysis of a given candidate to assess the applicant’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for the given role and for the given startup culture. AI streamlines the process of finding better early hire fits, helping you as the founder spend more time bringing your startup to life.

Raising Funds

7. Analysing a SAFE


In order to grow your startup, you’ll need to raise funding. In a priced funding round (such as Series A), venture capital analysts take time to formulate an appropriate valuation for your startup. However, in the early days of operation, your startup probably has no performance metrics to form a valuation with! Furthermore, time spent going through the process of funding is time that’s not spent finding product-market fit!

To overcome this problem, in 2013 startup accelerator Y Combinator came up with the SAFE - a Simple Agreement for Future Equity. This financial instrument offers both startup founders and investors a common framework for startup’s to raise funds from investors by offering investors the opportunity to convert their investment into equity at a later stage (such as a future Series A round).

In order to entice and reward investors for taking a risk funding at a very early stage, SAFEs may take on a few different forms: valuation cap, discount rates, most-favoured nation, and pro rata rights. These various SAFE formats relate to how the investor is able to convert their investment into equity in the future. With a valuation cap, if during a Series A round, your startup is valued higher than the valuation cap of the SAFE, the investor is able to convert their investment to equity at the price dictated by the valuation cap - in effect, the investor gets a better deal. A discount rate means that when converting to equity, the price per share is discounted (again giving a better deal to the investor). Most-favoured nation ensures that the SAFE investor is able to receive the same deal as future investors if it is better than the one agreed on in the SAFE. Lastly, pro rata rights gives the SAFE investor the opportunity to invest in a later priced funding round in order to maintain the same percentage ownership of the company (i.e. avoid dilution).

Now, if you’re a new startup founder, that’s a lot of terminology to navigate. If you get handed a SAFE from a potential investor, you’re going to want to know what type of SAFE you are agreeing to. This is important, as it may impact your ownership of your own startup!

Thankfully, AI can do all this analysis for us. Simply copy-and-paste the SAFE agreement handed to you by the investor, and watch as your AI-cofounder helps you understand what deal you’re about to sign up to.

For best results, I recommend upgrading on to take advantage of AI models that are able to read lengthy documents such as a SAFE. It really helps in finding actionable insights.

8. Finding your Pitch Deck Description


Presenting a pitch deck to investors is a high-stakes experience. As a founder, you likely have large ideas for what your startup is and can be. However, distilling those thoughts into punchy memorable statements for investors can be quite a challenge.

To help put your best foot forward, our AI-cofounder can take all the vision you have for your startup, and output an effective description for your pitch deck to maximise your impact on investors.

9. Clarifying your Problem


In a similar fashion, it is imperative that you clearly spell out the problem you are solving when presenting to investors. To stop you focussing on the solution you are working on, try out this AI prompt that’ll help you focus specifically on the problem. The bullet-point output from this prompt is great for fitting concisely onto your pitch deck.


10. Crafting your Strategic Narrative


The last facet of founding a company is the marketing arm. How are you going to take this amazing solution to a problem you’ve identified and promote it to the people who need to be using this solution?

Finding your voice amidst all the noise in the world is difficult, and figuring out how to inspire customers to convert to your product requires some tactical thinking. To help with this, the prompt above crafts a mission-driven call-to-action for customers by emphasising that your startup is not only a business, but rather a paradigm shift in the market and that it is the new state of affairs.

Put in your value proposition (the solution to the problem you have identified), and you’ll be amazed at the inspiring narratives that our AI-cofounder can come up with.


That’s a wrap on the 10 most impactful prompts for aspiring startup founders. As mentioned in the introduction, these prompts merely scratch the surface of the many responsibilities of a startup founder. These prompts are not an exhaustive set. Nevertheless, in less than 5 minutes, you can have quite a deep understanding of what your startup can be. Therein lies the benefit of AI as a tool to help us tackle complex challenges!

For further and deeper reading on how AI can be used to create a startup, check out my other articles here.

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