Global Techstars Startup Weekend AI is Coming to a City Near You!

At Techstars Startup Weekend our community drives us to be at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship. Never has this been more true than with the most recent community driven global initiative, Global Techstars Startup Weekend Artificial Intelligence. Eleven cities across the world are coming together in the last two weekends of September to build, innovate and create new startups by leveraging AI.

The world needs more vibrant deep tech startups. This can be done if we work together to build a more distributed global startup ecosystem that is educated and prepared to tackle innovation challenges with AI. That’s what the team behind the AI initiative wants to achieve, bringing together innovators from all around the world to create the next big thing in Artificial Intelligence.

The global AI organizing team, founded by Laura Calmore & Josse Blais, previously organized their first Techstars Startup Weekend AI in Paris in October 2016. With over 100 attendees they saw the demand for events focussed on artificial intelligence where attendees can make an impact in only 54 hours.

At the end of each Techstars Startup Weekend AI a winner will be announced from all of the companies created. Those 11 companies will then go on to be judged by our global judging panel who will announce an overall winner. The winning team will then be flown to Paris to attend the Hello Tomorrow conference and experience the next generation of AI first hand.

Not only will attendees be working alongside other developers, designers and innovators to create the next big thing but they will have free use of Snips. The Snips Voice Platform allows anyone to integrate AI powered voice interaction in their devices with ease and all teams participating in Techstars Startup Weekend AI will get to use the platform. Further to this, Recast.AI giving free access for one year for each team to their platform Recast is a collaborative platform to build, train, deploy and monitor intelligent bots. All participants will all get free access to google cloud. Alongside the fantastic platforms participants will be able to leverage to develop their products, the global event is sponsored by L’oreal and le hub France IA.

If you’re interested in participating in any of the Global Startup Weekend AI events register below.



Register Now

Douala, Cameroon

September 22


Guadalajara, Mexico

September 22


Lima, Peru

September 22


Montreal, Canada

September 22


Bangalore, India

September 29


Beirut, Lebanon

September 29


Carthage, Tunisia

September 29


Hong Kong

September 29


Mexico City, Mexico

September 29


Paris, France

September 29


Istanbul, Turkey

September 29


Can’t see an event in your region why don’t you apply to organize a Techstars Startup Weekend in the future? Apply here

Why Everyone is Talking About Artificial Intelligence

When 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in 1968, viewers around the world were incredibly fascinated by the potential of HAL, the on-board computer of the Discovery 1. Designed to be infallible, HAL commits its first mistake during the space mission, becoming suddenly unreliable. And it’s just when he discovers that the astronauts on board plan to disarm it that the Artificial Intelligence device begins to plan to eliminate the entire crew.

If Kubrik’s masterpiece was projected today, if 2001: A Space Odyssey suddenly became 2031: A Space Odyssey, the public’s reaction would be totally different.

Artificial Intelligence has become reality and has been recently the center of an intense debate involving important decision makers, scientists, philosophers, and innovators around themes such as ethics, progress, and (in the last instance) safeguard of the human race.

The debate about the consequences of this technology reignited last month when Facebook suddenly stopped an Artificial Intelligence experiment after discovering the robots had independently developed a brand-new language, unintelligible to humans. Researchers from the Facebook AI Research Lab (FAIR) had noticed that the machines were communicating in a totally unexpected way: an episode that emphasizes both the potentials and the most disturbing aspects of AI.

In spite of the incident, Zuckerberg is optimistic about AI, and in particular about the progress in basic research which, according to the CEO of Facebook, can improve systems in many different fields – from the diagnosis of illnesses to the use driverless-cars, from the improvement of virtual assistants to the optimization of search engines.

Elon Musk, CEO at Tesla, is not of the same opinion, and recently defined Artificial Intelligence as being more dangerous than North Korea. Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak have both repeatedly stressed how using this technology can lead to tragic and unexpected consequences.

In 2014, Stephen Hawking had already alerted the world and the scientific community on how AI could mean the end of mankind. Unlike man, which is limited by slow biological evolution, robots are able to reprogram and learn new languages at higher speeds, leading to the inevitable supremacy of machines, the scientist argued.

Google has also intervened several times in the public debate and has recently released a video highlighting the danger of using Artificial Intelligence in decision-making processes. According to the tech giant, computers find solutions by identifying patterns in large amounts of data, driving to think there is no bias in this operation. However, just because something is based on data doesn’t automatically make it neutral (read this article to learn more on the three categories of bias identified by Google).

The centrality of topics connected to Artificial Intelligence on the world agenda reflects the growing investments and commercial operations. In 2014, Google absorbed the startup DeepMind for a reported $400 million, one of the most significant acquisitions in the history of this industry. Spotify has also recently assimilated several companies with the goal of using technology to improve its content recommendations and advertisement targeting. Microsoft Ventures itself has launched a new investment fund for AI startups.

Artificial Intelligence has therefore become a central theme in any tech conference, festival or workshop. On November 9th and 10th, the most influential actors of emerging technologies will gather in Milan in a ‘two days’ of near future scenarios and practical demonstrations, sharing insights and solutions for the business of various industries, including retail, manufacturing, automotive, entertainment and media.

So the discussion around AI continues, and it will just become more intense.

What will make a difference is the ability (technical but especially strategic) of small startups (which are however likely to be acquired by tech giants) and large companies to control this technology and to quickly identify evolutions and applications that their competitors haven’t imagined yet.

Startup Weekend AI: Are Bots Going to Take Over the World?

Technology has long wanted to make the world a better place, a new place, and yet, the future seems still unstable. At what extend is Artificial Intelligence critical? At what extend will Artificial Intelligence erase human creativity, even replace it?

Everyone talks about AI but do we really understand what it stands for, it’s exponential growth and where it can bring us? Do we know how to create a business around it?

Are bots going to take over the world?

Not likely, we’re too far from having enough data. Here’s where we stand (deeplearning by MIT). 

Joke aside, we need educate ourselves enough to stop believing this nonsense.

I had the pleasure of attenting one of Martin Wezowski, chief designer at SAP, talks on creating the future we want to live in. Jobs in sequential steps, that can be translated in algorithms, will be replaced by robots and automized. So we must rise higher, leave the dirty work to them and head towards more creative & innovative endeavors.

Let’s indeed create a future we all want to live in!

Global Startup Weekend Artificial Intelligence

AI can influence and change health, wealth, jobs, and the world. Do we want to stand besides and take the risk of getting left behind or do you want be part and influence the change? We know we want to be part of the change! What about yourself?

This is why at GlobalSWAI we believe that we need to help communities educate on the theme, democratize the AI concept, and push them out of their comfort zone to build the better tomorrow.

It all started in Paris

It’s been already more than 6 months that the first Startup Weekend in the world dedicated to Artificial Intelligence has been organized in Paris with my wonderful friend Josse Blais as co-lead.

In November 2016, during 54 hours, one hundred web developers, graphic designers, business experts, engineers, researchers, and students interested in the entrepreneurial experience worked intensively on functional startup prototypes, presented to a panel of experts, investors and local entrepreneurs on the Sunday evening.

The insights of PhD students and researchers are very valuable in the field of artificial intelligence.

Based on the fact that too few researchers transform their discoveries into real products and further on into real companies with business models, we partnered up with INRIA (French National Research Institute Dedicated to Digital Technology) to build a bridge between the institute researchers and the French entrepreneurial ecosystem.

We believe that the insights of PhD students and researchers are very valuable in the field of artificial intelligence, and they need to get closer to the entrepreneurial mindset to think beyond the technology and into a practical business.

This first edition was such a great success that we came to realize that this need for researchers profiles is a global need and not limited to France, and several cities around the world soon started talking to us to bring SWAI (Startup Weekend AI) to their city.

In addition, the theme of Artificial Intelligence appears to be one of the main challenges of the coming months, with the multiplication of natural interfaces interacting with computers, machine learning, and all the benefits coming around in med- and bio-technology.

This is how the idea of a Global Startup Weekend around the theme of artificial intelligence saw the light. At the end of September 2017 and during two weeks, Startup Weekend will flourish in more than fifteen global capitals. The list of cities is growing, including Mexico City, London, Paris, Barcelona, Seoul, Cork, and Hong Kong.

This global initiative is more than a simultaneous event in several capitals around the world. It is federating a genuine community around artificial intelligence, democratizing its use, and making it more diverse, inclusive and impactful by removing boundaries.

Awesome communities and startups are supporting this initiative. They will help merge communities interested in AI around the world to discover trends and knowledge on how to apply AI in products and services and steer collaboration in this field among startups, developers, corporates, investors, and researchers.

“The problem with the AI space is that there is too much hype and too little collaboration in terms of sharing lessons learned. It’s time to zoom into the business value of AI, be transparent about the downsides and push relevant change. There is an incredible opportunity here, but AI is not a solution in itself. We forget thats its people who are shaping our future and we need a global community to enable more cross border sharing and collaboration.” say Mike Reiner and Christoph Auer-Welsbach, co-founders of CITY.AI

Snips backed SWAI last year and in the spirit of their community. This year, they are going global with us. The Snips Voice Platform allows anyone to integrate AI powered voice interaction in their devices with ease and all teams participating in GSWAI will get to use the platform.

It’s gonna be legend. 

We want to bring the communities together at Hello Tomorrow, a global non-profit on a mission to accelerate the transfer of breakthrough technologies into real world solutions by highlighting, empowering, and connecting the most promising deep-tech entrepreneurs across the globe with the right enablers.

Innovation will take place around the world and countries showcase their startup communities during GSWAI.

Two weekends for over fifteen cities to organize a SWAI end of September.

Over 1000 entrepreneurs and researchers will come together for tens of events during the two last weekends of September 21st and 29th, 2017 for Global Startup Weekend Artificial Intelligence.

We want to connect entrepreneurs, organizing teams, and startup communities for innovation to take place around the world and for countries to showcase their startup communities.

Join today and learn, connect, and startup at Global Startup Weekend AIOver 20 cities have applied already!


This post was originally posted here.

Here is a review of this year’s Best Tech April Fool Pranks!

This is a guest blog post by Hira Saeed, Community Leader, Startup Weekend Karachi who writes about AI startups, Chatbots and Big data.

April Fools’ Day is something that we humans celebrate with all our hearts. Whether it’s making the fool out of parents or friends, we do it wholeheartedly. To get familiar among the masses, Tech companies do it as well with of course with of course highly paid ads and other stuff. Silicon Valley where most of the tech companies live is known to be sort of un-funny because of the geeks working there but in this April Fools’ Day there were super hilarious! Last year was a good one, but this year the giants stepped up their game and were really funny. So let’s have a review of this year’s top Tech April Fools Hoaxes!

The AI Revolution

LOL-BOT was hilarious but we’re not talking about it right now and yes, the AI Trip Managers are real! We’re reviewing the super-funny ad by Infiniti Telecommunications. It was a super fun and satirical dig at our industry where everything is “revolutionised by AI” nowadays. The ad started with the Top Management of Infiniti Telecommunications explaining the revolutionary technology that’s going to replace all their customer service’ staff. They further explained that with this technology, they wouldn’t need to outsource the customer service from Philippines or India. The chatbot in the ad was funny and performed like every other chatbot. And when are they going to release it? 1st April!


With Google, it’s always the polite humour! Google is known to be the funniest tech company because it was Google that started this trend of celebrating April Fools’ in the tech industry. To celebrate this April Fools’ Day Google turned the Google Maps into a Pac Man game. So by using the Google Map, you’re actually Pac Man munching its way to the destination. This prank of Google received critical acclamation because of the decency and great design of this campaign. Google even started a competition between among people which basically nominates the highest scorer as the winner. With this sweet collaboration with Pac Man spread smiles all around the globe.

Pac Prank

A Study in Pink

Just like last year, T-Mobile was hilarious and satirical this year as well! Okay so, the ad started with how “little wrist bands” cannot analyse what’s going on in the other parts of body and that is a huge problem making T-Mobile to come up with a revolutionary pink full-body wearable named ONEsie. According to T-Mobile, it’s where “couture meets connectivity”. The ridiculous full-body wearable is hailed by T-Mobile in this ad as a sporty and comfortable design. Oh, and it keeps track of what’s happening in your body and along with that, it incorporates 4G LTE as well, making you a human hotspot. Well played, T-Mobile.  

T Mobile April fool

Funny Pets

Amazon usually comes off as a bored tech giant but it’s really funny when it comes to pranking. This year Amazon has create Petlexa! Petlexa is the alternative of Alexa (yes, the AI assistant). Amazon killed it with a hilarious ad where pets are trying to communicate with Petlexa and it’s not really helping them. For example, in a shot, a cat grunts and Petlexa says:” Okay, ordering sushi now”. Well, the satirical tone of ad is just like the prank that they’re roasting the not-so-useful AI-assistants.

petlexa-by Amazon

The Future of Bots

Today’s tech companies all agree that AI, bots and voice are the next big things. In today’s day and age, all we have to be able to interact with machines are keyboards, and they have reached their limits. What’s the next step? Conversation. But making a machine understand us and respond in natural language is a challenge that has yet to be solved.

The idea is to solve what Elon Musk sees as human’s fundamental input/output limitations. He said our hand input, say thumbs on a virtual iPhone keyboard, is incredibly slow. On the input side, we’re a lot better because we have a high-bandwidth visual interface. Today’s solutions remain very technical and too conceptual for people to truly comprehend and implement in their lives.

Zuckerberg envisages his AI ambition as follows: ‘I’ll start with the technology that we already have and then I’ll teach it to recognize my voice to operate everything in the house. Music, lights, temperature and so on. I’ll teach the technology to let my friends in by identifying their faces when they ring the bell. And I’ll also teach the technology to warn me when something is the matter in the bedroom of my daughter Max.’ In reply to the tens of thousands of reactions to his message, Zuckerberg writes that he has already found one product that he is taken with: ‘In the field of music, Amazon Echo is pretty good. It’s simple to control music with my voice while both my hands are busy tending to Max.’


Bots are a preoccupation in tech because they’re exploring artificial intelligence (AI) at scale. AI comes in two broad flavors: strong/general or weak/specific. The former is recursive and can contend with a wide set of questions with open-ended answers. The latter, on the other hand, responds to narrow sets of questions with scripted answers. We don’t have strong AI yet, but the current generation of bots is a good example of weak AI.

“In the new workforce of 2030, the most successful organizations will optimize the usage of all their resources, both human and machine, for competitive advantage. An increasing portion of your workforce will not be human,” Mr. Prentice said. “However, while machines are very good for consistency, performance, predictability, efficiency and safety; they can’t match humans’ skills in ingenuity, novelty, art, creativity, emotion, and to address variability and provide context.” – Gartner Summary of the top news from Gartner Symposium.

Today’s bots are often a combination of algorithms and/or human turks. Google Now and Siri are the former, while on-demand delivery services like Magic in the United States and Fetch in the United Kingdom are the latter. Facebook’s virtual assistant M, on the other hand, is a hybrid.

Given the limitations of specific AI, we need both context and precision. Brand engagements are an interesting way to provide both because they are industry, product or service specific. For example, you can trust that someone won’t ask a banking bot a question about football. And methods such as onboarding and prompts can help people further understand what they can ask each bot. Niche domain expertise – such as bots for mortgages or asset management – are another way to focus a conversation and avoid awkward failures.

The concern that some people have with bots is the risk of a tedious backand-forth. No one wants an interactive voice response system in their pocket.

Chatbots VC landscape

To reduce such risk, many bot experiences are complementing text with cards and micro-apps. Both are ways to deliver thin, but robust, interactions inside of chats. “Show flights” within Google Now or ordering an Uber in Slack are both great examples.

At the end of the day, it is all sorts of virtual assistants that implement the ultimate customer experience, because they communicate with us in a natural manner and are aware of our deepest desires. Machine Intelligence plays a major role in this transition. We need Machine Intelligence to aggregate all our personal data, to filter and analyze them and eventually to transform them into an action or transaction. Albert Wenger, a partner with venture capital investor Juneon Square Ventures (USV), goes one step further. In his TEDx Talk: ‘A BIG idea, a bot idea’, he refers to the ‘right’ to have yourself be represented by a bot. These digital alter egos carry out work on behalf of their physical counterparts, based on personal data, and earn an income with which their owners of flesh and blood are able to support themselves. But to realize this, some steps will need to be taken first.

If software is eating the world, then it’s clear that messaging is eating software. Or to paraphrase another venture capitalist, Benedict Evans, “It used to be that all software expands until it includes messaging. Now all messaging expands until it includes software.”

The rise of chat gives entrepreneurs the unparalleled opportunity to align what their brands do with what they say. China, which was once known as the land of cheap rip-offs, may now be offering us a glimpse of the future. Facebook messenger is going to take over the world as WeChat did in China, according to the New York times. The right chat strategy, when executed well, will merge a brand’s persona with consumer expectations to create a seamless, intuitive experience. Whether that means adding chat functions to proprietary apps or creating branded bots on big platforms, organizations can now have more personalized conversations with their customers.


I’ll be at Silicon Beach Fest next week. Come say Hi! Btw you need a bot too. Give me 15 minutes or few emails if I can’t convince you, no one can!  Email me at to continue the conversation or try chatting with my bot.

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Our 5 Favorite Startup Digest Reading List Articles From Last Week

5 hand-picked articles from across the Startup Digest Reading Lists. Sign up to receive great weekly content on various topics from expert curators.


1. Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps.

By Dan Grover

Digest: Artificial Intelligence
Curators: Bjorn Larsen & Nitzan Hermon

A WeChat product manager drops some realism on the over-the-top bot hype from Facebook, Microsoft and seemingly everyone else in tech right now. Read More

More from this reading list:


2. Going Dutch: 9 things we learned about the start-up scene in Amsterdam

By John Kennedy

Digest: Startup Communities
Curators: Julian Miller, Brad Feld & Shane Reiser

Here’s a great look at the Dutch startup scene and how they are capitalizing on their core competencies. Read More

More from this reading list:


3. Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares

By Motoko Rich, Amanda Cox, Matthew Bloch

Digest: Education
Curators: Aurelio Jimenez Romero, Vicky Guo & Deborah Chang

Let’s not forget the power of education technology to potentially equal the playing field for our most vulnerable students. Here’s what the problem looks like in the United States. Read More

More from this reading list:


4. Serial entrepreneur wants to inspire more Colorado angel investors

By Monica Mendoza

Digest: Angel Investor
Curator: Berg Moe

What Leslie Jump learned from talking with angel investors is that there are three reasons why they invest: To make money, because they themselves are entrepreneurs and have empathy for how difficult it is to raise money, and because they see the industry they worked in being transformed by technology and want to be part of it. Read More

More from this reading list:


5. Injured Sea Turtle Gets His Bite Back With 3D Printed Jaw

By Devin Coldewey

Digest: 3D Printing
Curator: Dilanka

Interesting case study in ocean conservation & 3D Printing: An injured loggerhead sea turtle has been equipped with a 3-D printed prosthetic jaw at a rehabilitation center in Turkey. Akut-3, named after the search and rescue team that found him, had been struck by a boat’s propeller and his jaw nearly destroyed. Read More

More from this reading list:


Sign up for these or other Startup Digest reading lists, here.

Our 5 Favorite Startup Digest Reading List Articles From Last Week

5 hand-picked articles from across the Startup Digest Reading Lists. Sign up to receive great weekly content on various topics from expert curators.


1. With ‘Smog Jog’ Through Beijing, Zuckerberg Stirs Debate on Air Pollution

By Paul Mozur

Digest: China Tech
Curators: Xu Tao & Edith Yeung

Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced his arrival in Beijing with a blithe message about what must have been a dizzying jog through the center of China’s capital, which has been suffering from a weeklong bout of hazardous air pollution. During the past two years, Mr. Zuckerberg has made several high-profile trips to China and has done little to stifle conjecture about his ambitions to bring Facebook to the country. Read More

More from this reading list:


2. You’re A Computer. Can You Pass The Turing Test?

By ClickHole

Digest: Artificial Intelligence
Curators: Bjorn Larsen & Nitzan Hermon

Another hilariously deranged AI-themed ClickHole “ClickVenture” putting you in the first-person POV of the machine itself, this time as a computer battling to convince the judge of the “Turing Tournament” that you’re “the human.” Read More

More from this reading list:


3. The Making of Playstation VR

By Matt Leone

Digest: Virtual & Augmented Reality
Curator: Martin Ahe

The inside story about how Playstation’s VR device came together. Great read about how a large company can find a way to be entrepreneurial and work together to just get it done. Little known fact: Sony has been working on their VR device in parallel to Oculus since 2010, so chances are good that we would have seen a consumer-ready VR device around this time, even without Oculus. Read More

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4. Can You Name Any Women Inventors?

By Microsoft

Digest: Women Entrepreneurship
Curators: Babs Lee & Lilibeth Gangas

This is a fun video celebrating women inventors on International Women’s Day. But more importantly, this is a reminder to us all – we, too, can inspire the next generation of ladies. It’s time for us to shine. Read More

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5. This Is What I Do Before 8 AM.

By Jon Westenberg

Digest: Leadership & Resiliency
Curator: Sarah Jane Coffey

It’s a great day to practice not taking yourself so seriously. Read More

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