How Clarifai is Pioneering Artificial Intelligence
Elisabeth Brier and Amy Liu

For those who don’t know, artificial intelligence is not just a futuristic technology prominently featured in all of your favorite sci-fi films.

Despite its near fantastical connotation, AI is very much present in modern society, with advancements in the field being made everyday.

Clarifai, is one such company utilizing the power of this enigmatic tech.

Using a powerful visual recognition API, Clarifai assists in building smarter apps faster.

The company's’ Director of Marketing, Amy Liu, spoke with TechDay to discuss growing a business that is centered around widely cryptic technology and offers what she believes the role of AI will be in the near future.

How has the general population's fascination with artificial intelligence worked to successfully market Clarifai and garner initial interest?

The fact that AI is such a hot topic right now is actually a double-edged sword for AI startups. The hype around AI helps us garner general interest as a brand from the wider population, but it also makes it hard for potential customers to separate the signal from the noise and understand what’s real in the world of AI.

How has the newness of AI and general unfamiliarity with this type of tech both aided or potentially hindered the growth of Clarifai?

Market education is a much longer road since AI is so new. Because AI is such a buzzword these days, we face the additional challenge of helping people separate fact from fiction. A lot of the talk around AI is hypothetical, so it’s up to us to educate people on what they can do with our technology today - that’s why we’ve found it so helpful to showcase our large community of developers building astonishing yet tangible apps on our technology.

Within Clarifai's marketing efforts, do you work to explain the complexities of AI or focus more on the high level value props of the company?

As one of the first AI startups in the market, and the foremost independent AI startup, we’ve had years of experience working with businesses to solve real-world problems. We’re completely focused on how AI can transform your business today, not just in ten years. We want to take something abstract and theoretical like AI and make it accessible to anyone. This is not only reflected in the solutions-focused way we talk about Clarifai through our marketing efforts, but also in our product itself. Last year, we released Custom Training, a feature that allows anyone to easily “teach” our AI to understand new concepts that are important to their unique use cases without the need for a team of data scientists, special infrastructure, or thousands of lines of code.

Is Clarifai's target audience relatively niche and if so, what efforts go into reaching as many users as possible for the unique offering?

Visual recognition AI has so many applications across a wide range of verticals, and we find the most success with developers and product leaders who have real business goals. They’re technical enough to understand and implement our product, but also business-minded enough to appreciate that Clarifai can help them validate their AI strategy and go to market faster by making it easy, quick, and cost-efficient to get started with AI. We’re always impressed by the use cases our customers come up with - from moderating unwanted user generated content, to tagging images for SEO value, to building apps that help you learn sign language, to counting how many rocks there are in the world (really!).

What would you advise startup founders whose companies rely on more new age tech that many users may not be familiar with?

Because of the nature of AI, advancements in the field will be exponential. It’s more important than ever for businesses to be forward-thinking about their AI strategy and to make sure what they do today will adapt to the future. We’ve seen startup founders have great success at keeping atop the latest AI trends and improvements by choosing best-in-class AI services to build their AI stacks instead of trying to build machine learning in-house.

What new innovations or updates can we expect to see from Clarifai in the near future?

We’ve been in business for four years and we’re always learning from our customers about how to solve their real-world problems. Every month, we release several new visual recognition models that are geared toward serving specific verticals better - apparel, demographics, celebrity, NSFW - to name a few. We’re also working on some transformative products that make AI accessible to anyone in the world, no matter where they are or what access they have to the internet or technical infrastructure.