“Yo, listen up! I’m telling you, any pitch that doesn’t have AI in it is straight-up garbage. Unless the team behind it is unreal, which is unlikely ’cause anyone worth their salt is thinking about using the newest, coolest technology – AI, baby. It’s that freakin’ important, man.”
This is some real talk from my conversation with T.A. McCann, the managing director at this cool place called Pioneer Square Labs in Seattle. We dive deep into his background and how he’s been killin’ it in the startup game. Plus, we get into the nitty-gritty of bringing AI-first products to the market.
But hey, don’t just take my word for it. Here are some highlights from our chat, edited so it’s easy for your brain to process. And if you want more episodes like this, subscribe to Shift AI and get your mind blown on
Family and Upbringing: Okay, let’s get personal for a sec. T.A. McCann tells me that his old man was a badass salesman who knew how to spin a good yarn. That storytelling skill rubbed off on T.A., and now he’s using it to kick ass in the business world. And his mom? She was a sailing instructor who taught him and his bro to try new things. That “just try it” attitude has been key in T.A.’s life, making him resilient and self-reliant. That’s some real wisdom right there.
Sailing & Startups: Man, T.A. grew up by Lake Michigan and got hooked on sailing. He even won the America’s Cup in 1992! That experience shaped his journey into the tech world, where he started building websites for the marine industry. And here’s the crazy thing – he says there are so many similarities between sailing and startups. Like, the right team, the right resources, and good leadership are essential in both. Who knew sailing could teach you so much about entrepreneurship?
Lessons from Entrepreneurial Experience: T.A.’s been around the block when it comes to startups, and he’s learned a thing or two. First off, having a solid team you can trust is like gold. And speed? Yeah, it’s critical. You gotta get your product out there, man. And the money side of things? You gotta ask the right questions and figure out what your customers are willing to pay for. It’s all about finding that sweet spot, my friends.
3 ways to differentiate AI companies (Design, Data, & Distribution): Alright, let’s get nerdy for a second. When it comes to AI product development, T.A. says there are three big things you gotta focus on – design, data, and distribution. Design is all about making the user experience top-notch. And data? It’s not just about having unique data, but also knowing how to use it and create more of it. And of course, you gotta figure out how to take your AI to the masses. It’s all about standing out from the crowd, my friends.
Team Building For Better Remote Work: With the pandemic and all, remote work has become the norm. But T.A. has been doing the work-from-home thing since 2009. He says it’s all about having a solid structure, like a sprint schedule, and clear communication. And if you can figure out how to work together even when you’re miles apart, you’re golden.
The Future of Work: Times are changing, man. We’re entering a whole new era of building companies. And that means we gotta be open-minded and ready to learn. There’s gonna be a whole new set of skills that we need to embrace. And diversity? Yeah, that’s gonna be huge, ’cause the world is getting smaller and we gotta understand and appreciate each other’s differences. So get ready for the future, my friends, ’cause it’s gonna be wild.
AI Projects at Pioneer Square Labs
- They’re working on an AI copilot for hardware product development. This thing handles all the technical stuff, like requirements and decisions, so you can focus on creating awesome products.
- They’ve also got an AI licensing assistant. It sniffs out any unauthorized use of copyrighted material and protects your hard work.
- Oh, and they’re working on a self-learning AI that can identify and write skills it needs to complete tasks. It’s like having your own super-smart assistant.
- Last but not least, they’re developing an AI software developer. This thing can write code, tests, and documentation. It’s like having an intern, but without the coffee runs.
You gotta check out the full episode of Shift AI with T.A. McCann right