Sep 17 • 23M

Puppetry ( former Elbo AI )

Meet Saravana Rathinam and Ben McMahan from Elbo AI

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Appears in this episode

Burak Buyukdemir
Saravana Rathinam
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Episode details

In a recent episode of the Startup Istanbul podcast, we got to talk with Saravana Rathinam and Ben McMahan. They're the folks behind Puppetry (Former Elbo AI), a cool startup that's working on making it easier to talk to computers.

Puppetry has made a platform that lets us chat with AI almost like it's another person. They're getting a lot of people interested because this is something many of us could use in our daily lives.

During our chat, Saravana talked about his past work, like helping to build parts of Apple Siri. He's really into finding better ways for people and computers to understand each other. Ben shared his views about where Puppetry is going next and what they're working on now.

Both Saravana and Ben have been around the startup scene and talked about how it's been working in a fast-moving field like tech. What drives them? They want to make it as easy to talk to a computer as it is to chat with your friend.

If you're curious about what the future holds for talking to computers and gadgets, you'll want to listen to this episode of the Startup Istanbul podcast.

Here is a summary of the conversation with Saravana and Ben:

1. Saravana Rathinam and Ben McMahan introduce themselves as the co-founders of Elbo AI, a venture focused on creating 'faces' for AI to make interactions more natural.

2. Both have experience at major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon, where they worked on various interactive technologies, including voice search.

3. Saravana shares his journey from working on mobile touchscreens to contributing to Google Assistant, emphasizing his long-standing interest in human-computer interaction.

4. They highlight how the advent of generative AI and large language models have made it possible to create more conversational and less command-based AI interfaces.

5. Puppetry aims to make conversing with AI as easy and intuitive as talking to a human, reducing the cognitive load involved in interactions.

6. A demonstration of their tool "Puppetry" is given, which allows users to animate a face with their own facial expressions as the first step toward their bigger vision.

7. Their target market includes startups interested in enhanced AI interfaces and consumers who want to create talking avatars.

8. The team has been bootstrapping using used GPUs and is currently preparing to join an accelerator program to further their goals.

9. Puppetry emphasizes a company culture of "tinkering and innovation," encouraging a dynamic, creative work environment.

10. They invite interested parties to join their community via Discord or email, and offer a downloadable version of Puppetry for users to explore.

These are my questions I asked during the interview

  1. Who is the target market for your product?

  2. How did you understand that this is a problem? Or how did you validate the customer problem and demand for your solution right now?

  3. Which kind of technologies do you use? Are you dependable on AI structures and models?

  4. How do you differentiate your product from others in the field?

  5. When did you start the company, and when did you leave your earlier jobs?

  6. Are you planning investment rounds in the upcoming months?

  7. What keeps you awake at night nowadays?

  8. How many hours do you spend with your customers weekly?

  9. What are the funny facts about yourselves?

  10. What is your expectation about creating the company culture when you find the product-market fit?