Since Junction AI won a spot in the InnoSTARS semi-final competition in China I have been asked a few times what I expect to get from attending.
First some background.
InnoSTARS is a start-up pitching contest hosted by the 2018 US China Innovation Summit. The summit featured in major cities across the US for preliminary pitching contests in each city, as well as an online preliminary too. The participants are grouped by sector, Junction AI was in the Artificial Intelligence, AR/VR group. I pitched at the Houston event in May.
In Houston I took advantage of the Summit’s B2B match making meetings, events, speakers and networking opportunities. Major Chinese technical institutions, like JITRI, attended with energetic teams ready to talk and inform start-ups about opportunities.
Semi-finalists from the US summits are going to China on an all-expense paid trip. The AI, AR/VR group starts in Shanghai Sep 24. It will be my first visit to China. After Shanghai we visit Nanjing and then on to the competition in Qingdao. All along the way organizers have arranged meetings, networking events and other opportunities to help us make the most of the trip. The InnoSTARS US based local team are working to prepare us and ensure we get the most out of the trip.
Back to where we started.
This opportunity is very exciting for me as artificial intelligence is a global business with many countries, companies and technical institutes and organizations all competing and partnering to advance this industry. China is a world leader in AI and aiming to make it a core to future economic development. There is simply no way to get better insights and first-hand experience than being on the ground. The meetings and events scheduled by our organizers offer us visits to institutes, high level contacts and connections that would not be possible in any other way.
I have done business in countries diverse as Brazil and India, Canada and Costa Rica. Every culture and every environment offers an opportunity to learn and grow. My problem-solving ability is enhanced with broader knowledge. My strategic vision is forged on these global experiences.
At Junction AI we predict buying intent using AI machine learning. Our predications empower marketers to deliver data driven decisions, so they can successful target their campaigns and offers to consumers. Success means these offers must be relevant to the consumer.
It’s not, determining relevance is not easy. We know marketers constantly work to better personalize their engagements knowing customers expect to be treated uniquely.
It’s a big challenge. Our societies are multicultural. Consumers are not homogenous. They adapt and evolve constantly. It’s not enough to look at what happened in the past, or simply market to a segment as if everyone in it is the same.
For us the science of making data driven predictions means accounting for how values, behavior and context affect decision-making. Language and culture play a big role in how we interpret the world around us.
My goals for the China trip are to broaden my understanding of this market and its potential, make new connections with potential partners and clients seeking to target our home markets and to inform our future business strategy.
China is already big in travel.
Lots of US companies actively market to attract Chinese tourists in the travel and hospitality, and retail sectors. Already many destination marketing organizations, major brands and niche specialists have Chinese focused marketing campaigns. Over 2.9 million Chinese tourists visit the US every year, with an estimated spend of $33b. It’s a big deal.
And we know many Chinese companies are trying to engage and attract US consumers too.
As a start-up we need to be focused and we also understand global opportunities in the AI sector.
Just like marketers need to target consumers with the right offer at the right time, we need to be in the right place at the right time, so we can take advantage of the right opportunities.