Co-founders: Lifan Wang, MBA 22, and Jay Dang, a former UC Berkeley Computer Science major
In this interview, Lifan Wang discusses how he met his FlowGPT co-founder, Jay Dang, at UC Berkeley, and why speed was critical for his startup in entering the AI market.
How did you come up with the idea for FlowGPT?
We started this project in January. We both were power users of ChatGPT when it first came out. We would spend around 10 hours a day exploring different use cases of ChatGPT prompts and trying to leverage AI to increase our productivity. As we used it more, we realized that there are so many more use cases that people haven’t discovered. So we started doing extensive research by talking to people who use ChatGPT and prompts. We talked with approximately 100 people from various online communities, such as Discord channels and found that people constantly post and share ChatGPT prompts with each other, which gave us the idea to create a dedicated platform for prompt creators to share their prompts.
How did you get started in entrepreneurship at Haas?
Haas is a great place for aspiring entrepreneurs. I’ve taken several entrepreneurship classes, including a class with Rhonda Shrader, executive director of the Berkeley Haas Entrepreneurship Program, that helped me understand the process of launching a startup — from searching for ideas to conducting user research to creating a prototype.
Haas is a great place for aspiring entrepreneurs.
In the Business of AI, taught by Pieter Abbeel, a renowned professor in the engineering school, I interacted with generative AI and learned about neural networks and the GAN (Generative Adversarial Network), which pits two different deep learning models against each other in a game. I also explored various technical imaging technologies. I firmly believe that AI, especially generative AI, is going to be a significant trend that will revolutionize the world.
Where did you meet your co-founder?
Jay and I met during our time at UC Berkeley SkyDeck, where we attended various events. Jay was seeking funding for his startup in his freshman year. As a part-time venture partner, I was interested in potential investment opportunities. He pitched me his startup, which connected to the work I had previously done in the industry. We had extensive discussions and got to know each other well.
Are you both seeking funding right now?
We secured our C round of funding in May and are currently preparing to launch a new funding round this month or next. Our user base has experienced robust growth, and based on the data we’ve gathered, now is the perfect time to accelerate expansion.
What are some of your concerns about the future of AI or its impact on work and society?
With every technological advancement, there are inherent risks. When computers were introduced, illegal activities emerged on websites and regulations evolved. Our aim is to empower people to be more productive and generate a positive impact while prioritizing safety. We must ensure the safe use of AI, which will become a powerful tool, similar to the internet and software. Many people are already leveraging new AI tools like ChatGPT and Prompt Engineering to increase their productivity. At FlowGPT, we use ChatGPT daily for coding, product management, messaging, and marketing, covering various aspects of our operations. AI represents the next generation of powerful tools that elevate human productivity to new heights.
Our aim is to empower people to be more productive and generate a positive impact while prioritizing safety.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Execution is crucial. That is the most important thing I learned from Jay, my co-founder.
We launched the product in January, just one and a half months after ChatGPT’s release. Unlike many competitors, who were still in the ideation stage, we were already ahead. When competitors attempted to imitate us, we had already iterated three times and gained a million users.
My advice is to start building right away. You don’t have to be an expert at product development to get started. During my time at Cal, I noticed many people getting stuck in the same phase. Some might say, “I’ve got all the business plans figured out, and all I need is one programmer to build the product.” However, as time passed, they were still searching for programmers. The ability to launch is crucial, especially in the initial stages.