Just a few weeks after officially coming out of beta testing with Atlas Primer and announcing our company to the world, the Atlas Primer team made its first press release on April 27th 2020.
There we announced that Atlas Primer will officially be used in teaching at the Reykjavik University this fall.
Later that day MBL, the largest news outlet in Iceland, had picked up the story and wrote an article about it. Although they changed the headline from "Atlas Primer Develops an Artificially Intelligent Assistant Teacher" to "An Artificially Intelligent Teacher Starts Working in Reykjavik University (HR)." Nonetheless, we were honored and ecstatic to be featured there.
Just an hour or so after the publication of the article, even before we knew ourselves that we had been covered, we received a call from RUV, the state media outlet with the largest TV reach in Iceland, where they offered us to appear on live TV the following day to talk about Atlas Primer.
We obviously jumped on this unique opportunity to discuss what we've been doing and what problems we're trying to solve. We even gave a demo on live TV, of a product still in development using technology still in its infancy, all on a smartphone that could have received a phone call or some random notification at any time. In hindsight, this was perhaps a bit reckless.
The next day we were already extremely grateful and humble but this was by no means the end of our publicity spree as we were greatly honored yet again when VISIR, the second largest news outlet in Iceland, decided to publish our opinion piece where we discuss some of the challenges in higher education and how Atlas Primer intends on solving them.
It was quite a week (or rather three days) and all the attention and encouragement we got has certainly exceeded all expectations.
But, now we're going back to work.
I'd like to end this post with two important takeaways that we've gathered after this whole experience.
Takeaway #1 - Have your elevator-demo ready.
Every startup has (or should have) an elevator pitch, i.e., a short and concise statement describing what the company does and what problem it solves. The delivery of the statement is typically meticulously rehearsed and fine-tuned through a trial and error process. I believe that every startup that has something to demo, should also have an elevator demo, i.e., a short and concise demo that shows some of the unique features of the product. As we're still building out the intelligent back-end of Atlas Primer, our unique feature at the moment consists of the way a student can interact with the learning material using voice only. The demo I give in the interview is our elevator demo and it, too, is meticulously rehearsed and fine-tuned through a trial and error process and we can summon it pretty much anytime and anywhere, should we meet someone interested and with a few minutes to spare.
Takeaway #2 - Be wary of the hype around A.I.
Artificial Intelligence is a very fashionable term at the moment so we use the sparingly. We don't mind the attention it brings us but we'd much rather that people familiar with it make the connection themselves upon learning how we'll be implementing our own A.I. to manage the learning experience in future releases, as opposed to our current release, which simply leverages an existing A.I., namely a voice assistant that uses natural language processing (a subset of A.I.) We've tried making the distinction in past conversations but the discussion requires more depth than we can usually afford during those encounters, so we sometimes adopt for selective ignorance and just play along. But it's important to be alert and correct the narrative when it gets out of hand since no one is justly served by inflated expectations.