For decades there has been a lot of scrutiny regarding the use of AI, both in terms of performance quality as well as ethics. However, for all the controversy surrounding this topic, recent strides in AI development have made it clear that this new technology can serve as a valuable asset to the business world. In this episode, Gene Marks and Justin Fortier, the founder, CEO, and CTO of FYC Labs, discuss how small business owners are utilizing generative AI applications to optimize their SEO content and automate many of their daily operations.
Key Podcast Highlights
- What Is AI (Artificial Intelligence)?
- Within the context of business, AI (Artificial Intelligence) refers to a collection of language models. These programs interpret human language by anticipating your clients questions and then, providing them with useful answers.
- These language models are trained by data sets, which also enable them to respond in a conversational tone.
- How Is AI Changing the Small Business World?
- AI is enabling small business owners to automate a lot of the processes that at one point, could only be completed manually. As a result, companies can now accomplish these tasks with greater speed, efficiency, and productivity.
- Small business owners are seeing an increase in the amount of traffic being directed to their websites thanks to the use of generative AI applications, which can quickly create more organized, more relevant, and more SEO-friendly content.
- With AI programs performing the majority of their company’s work, small business owners no longer have to hire as many freelancers. They are, however, starting to hire more coders for additional tech support.
- What Are The Primary Concerns Regarding AI and How Are They Being Addressed?
- A lot of business owners are concerned that these various AI applications are just scraping data from other sites to create their content.
- As a precaution, your software developer will usually build a vector database comprised exclusively from your company’s proprietary knowledge; this setup ensures that your AI program will only be able to generate content using the information that you’ve provided.
- How Are Recent Video-Related AI Developments Impacting Small Business Owners?
- From a cybersecurity perspective, deepfakes pose a significant threat to the business world.
- Criminals are now leveraging AI bots to create and send realistic-looking videos, voicemails, emails, and texts that can scam unsuspecting victims into disclosing personal information. Small businesses are a frequent target for these forms of hacking due to the lack of cyber protection.
- How Else Are Small Business Owners Utilizing AI?
- E-commerce businesses are utilizing AI to create generative 3D rooms and virtual showrooms, where customers can try their products.
- While it’s still in its early stages, text-to-image AI is being used within some popular programs, such as Power Point.
- Optical Character Recognition (OCR) has become a major game changer at a lot of businesses, enabling these companies to extract information from a picture using AI, rather than having someone manually analyze and record the data.
- Using GPT to review websites was one of the first and most commonly used forms of AI among small business owners, particularly those who own online businesses.
- How Will AI Development Impact FYC Labs in the Years to Come?
- Recent AI developments have inspired FYC Labs to build more of their own proprietary applications and programs.
- Despite all the innovations in AI, at the end of the day, FYC Labs considers AI technology as simply another tool that will enable them to help their clients.
The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are for informational purposes only, and solely those of the podcast participants, contributors, and guests, and do not constitute an endorsement by or necessarily represent the views of The Hartford or its affiliates.
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Gene Marks: Hey, everybody. It’s Gene Marks again. Thank you very much for joining us at the Small Biz Ahead podcast from The Hartford. I’m glad that you are either watching or listening. Today my guest is Justin Fortier. Justin is the founder and CEO and CTO of FYC Labs. So first of all, Justin, thank you very much for joining me.
Justin: Awesome. Thanks for having me.
Gene: Yeah. I follow you online. I’m a big fan. We’re going to have a conversation about AI and SEO and marketing. Boy, we’re throwing around a lot of different acronyms here, but let me first of all just… We’ll set the stage so that our audience can understand where you’re coming from. Tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about FYC Labs.
Justin: Yeah. Absolutely. So like you said, I’m the founder, CTO, CEO, kind of one of those weird unicorns who kind of does it all. So started my company 2012. So we’ve been around 11 years. We actually just celebrated our 11 year anniversary five days ago. So we began kind of doing just mom-and-pop WordPress websites back in 2012. Just your restaurants, your lawyers, your doctors, just kind of fun stuff locally. And we began to grow our reputation and picked up some big customers, namely RE/MAX Mexico. So like every small business, we bit off more than we could chew, and we figured it out. So we jumped down there and we built their CRM, so their customer relation manager, and their property listing tool. So imagine Zillow. Zillow, Realtor, Redfin. So we built one of those.
Justin: And that’s what kind of catapulted myself and my team into software development. And in a moment I’ll explain how that influences the way that I do SEO and how I’m leveraging AI to create these landing pages. But that was kind of our kickstart. And then I actually went off and let my small business kind of hang out for a little bit. And I went and did some SaaS. I went to a SaaS company in manufacturing, got even better at the SaaS sales process, got better at programming. And then I got the wonderful allure of blockchain… crypto world and started developing blockchain projects and really had a blast over there. This is 2017. You couldn’t have picked a more fun time to be in blockchain.
Justin: And then luckily enough, I was able to kind of exit out of that company. And at the same time, I got an acquisition offer from some private equity out in the Midwest. Turned out to be the best thing that ever happened. We decided not to sell the entire company. Instead, we decided to just partner with this individual. And we’ve grown our agency from kind of a humble five, six people lifestyle business to now a 50 person plus agency, serving customers all over the world, building mobile applications, software development, implementing AI, blockchain. We do all the fun stuff. So…
Gene: You and I could talk for a few hours here. I mean, even the things that you just mentioned. I mean, you talk about building a CRM. So I’m a CPA, but my company, we implement CRM systems, so we do Salesforce and Dynamics and Zoho and a couple others and I was chuckling to myself when you were being a small business, you bite off bigger than you can chew, because that’s like the story of my life. But that’s the way you learn. That’s the way you learned AI. That’s way you learned blockchain. That’s the way you learn different things, is by taking on things that are out of your comfort zone. So you just wind up doing it. And then we have to have a separate conversation about crypto and block… I can’t believe how NFTs have… I mean, their value is dropped so significantly. And I still believe, maybe I’m crazy, that someday the Metaverse and the NFT world is going to catch up again. And I still believe that there’s a lot of up-side there, but right now, they’re definitely in the dumps.
Justin: Yeah. It was a trend that basically maybe got a little overheated. A little.
Gene: Just a little.
Justin: Yeah. There are some real solutions and some problems that are solved really well with NFTs and we enjoyed exploring those. I worked for a company called XYO. And we did some really interesting things more on the technology side, less on the crypto side.
Justin: And it was really cool seeing how blockchain can really solve some major problems. It’s just the bureaucracy needs to catch up to the technology.
Gene: Yeah. It really does. Again, these are all topics for the future because these are all things our audience are interested in, should know. But this conversation is about AI and it’s about SEO and marketing because I want to get your thoughts on that. So before we get into our marketing conversation, let’s talk a little bit about AI. Okay? So I’m going to ask you. I’m a client and I am ignorant about artificial intelligence. I’ve only seen what I’ve heard on the news or I’ve watched the Terminator. Tell me, explain to me in your words what artificial intelligence is.
Justin: So I’m going to begin with a funny story. My brother-in-law’s been in town the last few days. He’s professor out in Harvard, incredibly intelligent, molecular biologist, working on solving cancer. And he’s hanging out with all the AI… I mean, they’re digging into AI left and right. And he looks at me and he goes, “You have no idea what you’re doing with AI.” And I’m like, “Kind of do. This is kind of my thing.” And he wasn’t wrong. So let’s just start with that, is that none of us are truly experts in this. This has become a decentralized kind of effort across the globe to advance what most people are considering AI, which is generative AI, interacting with ChatGPT, OpenAI, maybe a little bit of Bard, that’s Google’s version. And then Meta has a really cool version coming out as well.
Justin: So let’s begin with that, that no one really is the de facto expert in AI at this point. It’s really been decentralized. I mean, that’s actually really cool, seeing all these different projects contribute to this community of plugins, net applications and use cases for AI. But probably for the purposes of a small business, what they need to understand about AI is that it’s a collection of language models. So it takes the ability to interpret human language, anticipate what you’re trying to say, and then provide you back with useful responses that may or may not have the full fleshed out context, may or may not have the proprietary data that you’ve collected, but they’ve gotten really good at phrasing it back in a way that’s understandable….
Justin: We’ve seen this for years where, “Oh, fill in the blanks.” Remember mad libs when you’re a kid, you’d fill in the blanks…
Gene: Of course.
Justin: So we moved well beyond those templated responses now to a very thoughtful response coming back from these language models. So let’s begin with that as… That’s how most of our small businesses need to think about it, is that it’s a very good language interpreter back to you, so you can ask questions.
Gene: And if I can just… And that’s what it is right now. I mean, it’s looking at these large language models, which are data, trained data sets, and then interpreting it back for us in a conversational way. But in the future, it’s going to go, and we’re heading in the future because it’s we’re moving at, where it will interpret things that it sees, like video and photos and things that it hears as well, correct, like audio, right?
Justin: Yeah. You’re talking about a different… Yes. The AI will go ahead and start filling in… I always like to think of AI as filling in gaps. Even when you’re doing machine learning, you’re doing predictive analytics, you’re basically stealing some data from it saying, “Hey. Guess what this data is. Oh, you were wrong. Try again. Oh, you were wrong. Try again,” until it’s figured out the most efficient way of getting to a prediction that’s accurate. And that way it’s always trying to fill in gaps. So when you look at a picture, it’s trying to fill in what that picture could potentially be. So it’s a cool way to think about it that way.
Justin: Now, you said the word data sets. Yes, there are data sets that help train these models, but the way to think about when you’re interacting with it is it’s a trained model. It’s a method by which it’s going to respond back to you. Now, the data sets that it has are limited. They’re snapshots in time. So yes, there’s plugins that you can add to GPT, and I spend a lot of time working on contextual data and what we are calling the blend of domain specific knowledge plus AI, but AI is the language. AI is the communication strategy. Then you blend in your own proprietary knowledge and now you have something very, very interesting. You have the ability to take your data and articulate it in a way that your users can understand. So that’s what I’m excited to talk to you about today because that’s what we’re doing, and it’s been really helpful and really cool, but…
Justin: I hope that kind of… There is a misconception. And like I said, I began the conversation with, “Well, my brother-in-law says that, ‘You have no idea what you’re doing.’ And I said, you’re kind of right.” Because it’s so nebulous. And if you really start to dig into it, even the folks who worked on the cosine wave similarity were surprised how accurate it was, and they couldn’t explain exactly what was happening when you start to map streams. I’m getting too technical. That’s getting under the hood that they’re still just amazed themselves at how good it’s gotten.
Gene: And as good as it is, people have always… People say why the explosion? Obviously, OpenAI introduced ChatGPT, at least GPT3.5, last year. It got worldwide knowledge and exposure and everybody’s, “AI, AI, AI,” a lot this year. It’s a big… It’s sort of the tech term of the year. We’ve had this cheapness of storage as I mean, it’s never been cheaper. We’ve had this million times increase in processing power just since the 1990s. We’ve had the cloud, which is now delivering all of this stuff in a much more quicker way. And even so I heard… I don’t know if you listen to Lex Fridman’s podcast, but I heard he interviewed Elon Musk a year and a half ago, and even Elon Musk was saying with Tesla, because he keeps promising the self-driving is coming, it’s coming, it’s coming, and it still hasn’t come, and even Elon Musk says that even with all of this processing and storage and all that, it’s still really hard. If you have a self-driving car, there’s a lot of information it’s trying to take in and immediately process it to make split second decisions.
Gene: So I just wanted to make sure that for those of you guys watching and listening that we’ve made great strides, but like you’re saying, Justin, we don’t even know where this is going. We’re just at the very beginning, I feel, of all of this. Is that fair to say?
Justin: I would say so, yeah. I mean, I think we’ve been… I have personally been doing AI for years, but I mean, the technology industry has been implementing versions of AI for several years, but never at this sort of… Like I said, again, the global effort that’s now come around it, that’s so cool to see and see how fast it grows. Now there’s obviously ethical concerns and existential concerns for some people who worry about the singularity and… What is it? Terminator 2…
Justin: So I don’t not have those concerns. I don’t foresee them happening as fast as others. And I think at some point there will be major ethical concerns and I think regulation would be super needed quicker than slower. But yeah, I think for the small business though, to wrap their head around it right now, the most interesting thing that small businesses can do with it is start to use it as a generator for content and filling in the gaps and kind of automating some of the processes where they would normally have to do manually and a portion of their business where they thought just the ROI is not there, writing content, writing blogs, putting out posts, generating landing pages to have more presence online. The ROI on that was really rough to go out and hire writers, train them on your domain specific knowledge, double-check their work, get your WordPress blog.
Justin: So I think really where it’s headed for us small business owners is that we’re going to be able to leverage a lot of the automation that comes with it to speed up our businesses to become more efficient. I hate to say it, but we probably won’t need to hire as many people, fewer freelancers, even though I run an agency right now, but coders are going to be way more effective. We’re going to be able to move faster as small businesses and startups.
Gene: So let’s be more specific on that. So let me use my business as an example, Justin. Okay. So we have a blog on our site and we tend to blog about the products that we sell. And I like to do blog entries of tips and advice for using the products, features and whatever. And like you just said, content is so important and that’s what drives traffic. Google loves sites that are generating fresh, good, regular content to drive visitors to that site. We’re all trying to improve our SEO. So I can have somebody in my office instead of writing a blog on some feature in a CRMapplication, that same person can either use Bard right now, believe it or not, whether you use ChatGPT, by giving it the right prompts to write that blog for us and write it to a point where all it needs is a human review to clean it up a little bit and then post it. And I could be… Whereas we were doing these blogs three times a month, we could probably be doing one almost every day for the amount of time…
Justin: Its ability to categorize and organize your content is uncanny. I mean, for those writers who might have a little bit of string on sentences or run on sentences, bit of ADD in their writing, it will give you a very compact, very well organized bit of content back for your users, which I believe is beneficial to the users. Now, at the end of the day, this isn’t just me black hat hacking SEO. I’m not trying to hack SEO. I’m actually giving content to users that’s a little bit more organized, a little bit more relevant, digestible in smaller chunks. So yes back to your example, writing the blogs, you may not need as many blog writers at some point, but your blog writers, if they’re keeping up with the times, they’re going to become prompt engineers.
Justin: So one of our freelancers, good friend of mine, has pivoted from being a content writer to a prompt engineer. So he now works at Meta as a prompt engineer, writing different prompts, working through content, and he’s totally embraced AI. They worked on a product called PromptCrafter, and he’s just very thoughtful to say, “Hey. I’ve got this wave coming. I’m going to embrace it. I’m going to leverage it to make my writing better. My creativity’s still in there with the prompting that I’m doing. I’m still bringing up the topics. I’m just generating better organized, more effective content faster.”
Gene: So first of all, I just made a note about prompt engineer. I love… That is a great term. Obviously, that is going to be a job title sooner rather than later. Here’s my concern about doing it though. When I go on to either ChatGPT or Bard and we’ll give it prompts to write a short blog on something, on a product, I’m scared that it’s really just scraping data from somebody else’s site. So it’s regenerating that data. So first of all, I’m nervous like, “Where else is that, somewhere else online?” And Google knows this stuff. Google can tell if it’s repurposed content on my site that came from somewhere else. So how do you address that?
Justin: If you hear me phrase it, that’s why I was careful to say that it’s not a data set. It’s a model. It’s an interpreter that helps you communicate a point. So in this case, what we like to do is we like to take your proprietary knowledge. If you’ve got a nice little database, some spreadsheets, even some pre-written blogs, we’ll feed that in as context. So we’ve written this really cool way without getting overly… Without getting overly technical on it, we’ve built kind of a context database. We call vector database. And what we’ll do is we’ll back it in all your context so that it’s searchable, grabbable, indexable, and then we’ll feed that into GPT in advance so that it’s using your proprietary knowledge. That’s the trick. I’m not just saying, “Hey. Use GPT’s random knowledge of the internet that it’s scraped back in 2019 or 2021,” I think is the latest, “Instead, let’s feed in your domain specific knowledge so that way you’re getting the right feed.” So I can jump into a really cool example if you’d like to hear it.
Gene: Yeah. I’d love to hear it. Go ahead.
Justin: So we have a client, and I’m actually an investor in this business as well, so a little bit of a pluck. They call it OpenGrants, and what they’ve done is they’ve collected grant data from different government sites, put their own blend on it, wrote up descriptions, figured out how that matches really well with different businesses. So if you’re a business searching for a grant, maybe you’re a small business in the medical industry looking for medical grants in California. What we’ve done is we’ve blended their proprietary data set, so we take the data that they’ve collected over the years about these grants and about grant systems and grant programs, and then we use GPT to generate landing pages that organize that content and make it easy to digest for a user and put it in this nice SEO rich or SEO structured way. So we have the meta tags, we have the H1s, H2s, very indexable content, so it’s easy to search later, and we submit that to Google.
Justin: It is a blend of GPT. So there is some AI. There is language model writing this content, but it’s using and leveraging the brain that they’ve created over the years. And it’s been amazing. 700% increase in traffic since we did this. And the investment was maybe a few thousand bucks in just billing our time of like, “We’ll just build this little thing for you. You type in whatever you want to, the keywords you’re trying to work with. Landing page done, landing page done,” and it increased users by 150%. It’s been incredible.
Gene: So first of all, that is a really great application, one of countless applications that’s leveraging ChatGPT. You’re using ChatGPT’s API to do this work, and your firm is doing this, which means if I wanted to build something similar to that, I mean, I don’t have the capabilities in my company to do this.
Justin: That’s a good point. That is a good point. I did kind of take for granted that we’re a dev shop, so this was… Not trivial.
Gene: That’s cool. That’s fine. But isn’t the point though, is that, yeah, you’re a dev shop, but you just said that it’s for a few thousand bucks to do something like that. So what really just a few years ago could have cost tens of thousands of dollars to come up with a less than satisfactory result, yeah, now I can hire a guy like you or a firm like you that has knowledge with GPT or Bard or whatever and design that for me and should theoretically be able to do something more powerful and quicker and cheaper than I would’ve been able to get just recently. Does that make sense?
Justin: It’s a matter of time where these are just plugins where you just type that into. There’s such an amazing ecosystem growing around OpenAI. Now there’s some kind of just fancy labels on top of AI and they’re just fence tossing your requests back and forth, which you could just go to GPT anyways, so why bother going through their little app? There are a few of those out there. But there’s little blends, these little tweaks, these little creative ways of leveraging AI to kind of solve a problem. There’s a whole ecosystem growing up around it. It was very similar around blockchain. That’s where the NFTs, all that fun stuff started growing up around blockchain, all these different apps. And it was a very exciting time. So for me as an engineer and sort of a technologist, it’s an exciting time to be at the forefront of building this ecosystem around AI. So it’ll be a matter of time until that’s no longer something that you’ll need someone like me for. You’ll be able to do that. But as of…
Gene: I was just going to ask you that question. I didn’t want to put you on the spot there, but does that concern you that some of the bigger… I mean, for example, it seems inevitable that WordPress, for example, will have all these different plugins for a WordPress type site and that…
Justin: We’re literally working on one right now, so…
Gene: Right. It seems inevitable.
Justin: Yeah. We’re hoping to be… Our company doesn’t just do work for hire. We have our own internal products. We have our own proprietary products that we’re building. We have a whole syndicate of different apps and small businesses that we’ve started around our agency because we have the blessing of having developers at our fingertips. So yes, we’re already building plugins, WordPress. I’m sure we’ll be competing with 10 others within a few weeks. So I think so. It doesn’t scare me as a dev shop because the next big thing will come around and we’ll build a whole ecosystem around that. And it really is… I mean, I approach my business as picks and shovels in the gold rush. There’s people chasing these things, and we’re just here to help you out along the way.
Gene: Justin, I just want you to know, I have no concerns about you putting food on the table for the rest of your life. You’ll be fine. I could tell that already. Okay. So we’ve talked about generating content really through blogs. We’re all talking about driving traffic to our sites. This is all about SEO and leveraging AI. What else? Are you doing anything with video?
Justin: Just blogs and the reason why, I want to go back to that story I said about RE/MAX. This is not a new concept. Generating dynamic pages is not a new concept. NerdWallet. NerdWallet seems to have a topic on a billion things, and they’re kind of templated. With RE/MAX, what we learned was that we would create every possible landing page for someone searching for a two bedroom, three bath, a one bedroom, two bath, oh, without a pool, with a pool. So we generated landing pages based off that dataset dynamically for years. And we absolutely won the SEO game with RE/MAX over their competitors. It was incredible, just by thinking thoughtfully about what potential landing pages you have. So it’s not necessarily a new concept. It’s just AI now adds that narrative, that language around it that makes it more engaging to the user.
Justin: So I just wanted to make sure that’s clarified that this is a very old school technique being applied with new technologies, and it’s been effective for years. We submit 100s of 1000s of pages for RE/MAX every day for all their new landing pages, for all the new properties. So your next question was around video. Okay. Here’s one thing that does scare me about AI are deepfakes. On the cybersecurity side of things, we’re what we call the first responders on a lot of cybersecurity issues. Something goes wrong with a small business, they’ve been hacked, they call their developers first. And we come in there and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.
Justin: Deepfake has probably been one of the most difficult things to solve, whether it’s social engineering, be careful of AI bots sending you text messages trying to get you to give up your… “Oh, send us the banking account information.” The worst is when they pretend to be a CEO. “Hey. I’m at a conference. I can’t get you on the phone. So please send me the bank account details right away.” Those are terrifying because these are… These bots in the AI side is really hard to handle with that. Deepfake video has… I just sat on a conference or on a panel with Qualcomm, ESET and San Diego State University, all their kind of big heads of cybersecurity. Again, out of my league. Love to be in that position. And these guys are talking about deepfake being in serious national security threat.
Justin: So I’m a little bit nervous on the video side. Outside of that for ourselves, no, we really just kind of build that content around the video. We have not done any video generation. I’m working with a really cool, what’s called XR company. So they’re doing 3D showrooms for your e-commerce. So imagine you’re a hat shop and you want to be able to show your users your shop in 3D when they come onto your website, like maybe your Shopify store. We’re working with them to do generative rooms, generative 3D rooms. So we can basically use… If you’ve used Midjourney, this is a prompt-based image generator. So I could say, “I need a…” I play fantasy football. I’m like, “I need a new logo for my fantasy football team. My nickname is blah, blah, blah.” So maybe this really cool little logo, but we’re actually doing that in 3D space. So we’ve done that. Video I have not really dabbled in much on our side, mostly around the 3D meshes.
Gene: So let me jump on that a little bit because we haven’t talked about this a little bit, but you just mentioned about text-to-image. So tell us a little bit about text-to-image. And are you using that with your clients? Is that a helpful way to drive or to improve SEO? Or is it more of a thing using a PowerPoint presentation?
Justin: It’s more a PowerPoint. Actually what’s really… PowerPoint actually is a good call. The new Duet AI that’s going into Google Workspaces, super cool. I’m on the wait list. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m really excited about that one. I mean, we have a high level for image quality for our UX/UX, so it’s not there yet.
Gene: It ain’t great.
Justin: It’s not there yet for my purposes. We actually made a kind of modular based illustration app called Blush that you should check out. That could probably… It’s more… I don’t know. I still think that the creative is still hands-on. I haven’t quite seen the text-to-image be what I want it to be. Now…
Gene: But this gets back to what we were just saying earlier is that we’re talking about the future. A lot of this stuff is just not there yet, but it’s going to get there, right?
Justin: For the quality that I’m looking for, I can’t use it. Now go inversely, go image-to-text, super cool applications there on what’s called OCR, optical character recognition. We are solving so many problems with that already where you have a handwritten application that’s taken maybe at… We work with economic development offices. Handwritten application, scanned in. No longer do you have to have that person typing in all the information. You’re automating that input. That PDF scanning, holy cow, the automation on that. And that’s actually a pretty old technology.
Gene: It is.
Justin: All things considered. That has been really cool. And I think small businesses should really look into that as… You don’t think about it as AI, but it really is.
Gene: Got it. Got it. And obviously going back to text-to-image, if text-to-image is still in its early days, clearly text-to-video is also in its pre-infancy, I’m assuming, correct?
Gene: I mean, Adobe is working, getting some really cool stuff, but again, it’s early days.
Justin: True. The Photoshop stuff is really cool. Still though, you still have to know Photoshop. You can’t just come in.
Gene: You do.
Justin: And it’s not quite there yet where you just have to think of something and it’s magical and it’s there.
Gene: Fair enough.
Justin: You still have to have the technical skill
Gene: Trying to squeeze all this into our 30 minutes and there’s so much other stuff, but okay. Overall though, and again, this conversation about AI, SEO, we talked about blogging, generating content, text-to-image, those kinds of things, even backwards, image-to-text. How…. general SEO reviews of sites? I mean, I have heard, I’ve never tried this out, maybe you have that, that you can put a URL in for your site. You can ask GPT. Prompt it to say, “Do an SEO review. Make suggestions. What tags, what meta tags or keywords out would… Even user experience, when people are browsing my site, it can give me advice and recommendations. Is that good? Is that something that a business owner would get value from?
Justin: There’s a bunch of other plugins that do that already because it’s all code, it’s structured data, it’s not hard to write against. So GPT is really nice about handling unstructured, kind of again, filling in gaps. There’s no gaps when it comes to reading the code structure of a site. So these have been around for a while. I mean, you can just use your Chrome browser to check its SEO scores to make sure you have the right structure on your page. So that’s actually a really easy one to do. There’s a huge list of plugins.
Justin: User experience, I haven’t seen AI making a meaningful change on understanding user experience. I’d be interested to see if somebody is doing something really effective with that. Maybe running through… There’s plenty of tools that’ll let you simulate a navigation through your app or maybe through your website to make sure that users find the right content. I have not seen anything interesting enough that would get me to… and if we did, I mean, oh, my gosh, how cool would that be? We no longer need UX testers. But nothing there yet. Again, maybe there’s somebody out there who’s written some prototypes of it, but nothing I’d pay money for.
Gene: Okay. We spoke earlier, and we only have a minute or so left, but we spoke earlier about you as a dev shop, you’re always going to have something to do. There’ll always be the next new thing. But when it comes to this, and again, we’re still staying focused on SEO and AI and what you do now, how do you think your firm will be different? I’m not even going to ask you beyond two years, because God knows, but let’s just go two years ahead. What do you think will be different about your job?
Justin: Well, I think personally what we’re trying to do with our group is we’re going to have more of our own proprietary applications, our own programs, learning to grow our own products that way. We’ll definitely change a bit. As…
Gene: And let me interrupt you by saying that will differentiate firms like yours. So if I’m a business owner and I’m looking to work with a marketing expert, I mean, it really is going to be about the companies like yours that can bring to me, “We have got all of this already done and pre-written and ready to be…
Justin: And we do it for ourselves. I mean, if we’re so good at it, we got to eat our own dog food, right?
Justin: So of course we’re so good at this. So that’s why we’re really happy that we’ve been putting out these applications. We’ve been growing a few, getting users empathizing. I mean, having run a SaaS company that was successful and helped that grow, I can empathize with the growing pains of building a startup or a small business. So it’s been really easy for me to work with individuals. Again, they’re still use for humans. Empathy still is out there. We still need something, so…
Gene: We do.
Justin: But I think the more important question, what you’re talking about is how does our dev shop look a little bit in the next year and in regards to AI? This is just another plugin, another API for us to work with and it’s another tool in our belt. I don’t see it changing everything. It just makes us that much better. At the end of the day, it comes down to our systems, comes down to our camaraderie. It comes down to our culture, comes down to our ability to be creative. That hasn’t changed, and I don’t think that’ll ever change. Being innovative I guess is one piece, but we’ll grab these tools. We’ll leverage blockchain. We’ll leverage open APIs. We’ll leverage SEO tools. And we’ll just get better and better. But that only works if you have a good system, a good culture, and an innovative mindset.
Gene: In the end, I mean, your clients, and I’m one of them, I mean, we’re focused on doing what we do and running our businesses, and we don’t have time for all this stuff. I mean, we got to look to guys like you to do what we need to be done. So you’re always going to be relevant. And the more tools that you have on your belt, the just quicker and easier and more affordable you can make it to do the work for us, right?
Justin: Yeah. And you will start to get curious about these and you’ll ask questions and people like me will be here to answer. I mean, as a small business owner, I mean, I know a lot about accounting. Didn’t intend to.
Gene: Yeah. More than you ever wished to have known, so… Yeah.
Justin: As a small business owner, I’m sure you guys know… Some of these people know a lot about plumbing because they had all these issues and they didn’t have time to call the plumber. So happy to be that person. I love doing this in particular because this is what I learned to do. I’m a learn by doing, take the risk, experimentation, figure things out. And the more I interacted with people and got to engage with podcasts like this and content like this, it made me better, made me more well-rounded. And if it just makes that conversation that much more useful when you do talk to me, it’s well worth the time because you now have your more informed decisions and we can iterate and we’ll collaborate much easier.
Gene: Justin Fortier is the founder, CEO and CTO of FYC Labs. Justin, I don’t even have your website here on my notes. What is your website?
Justin: fyclabs.com. Very easy.
Gene: Okay. That sounds like a pretty easy. Not ai, fyclabs.com, correct?
Justin: We’re old school. We’re still .com.
Gene: Is it Antigua? There was some Caribbean nation that has an AI their domain.
Justin: Most of those .io, dot etc., they’re all from different nations.
Gene: They’re from different nations. They get to host it. And they’re reaping all these rewards from doing this. Justin, thanks very much. That was a great conversation and really enjoyed the knowledge. And I’m sure we’ll speak again in the future.
Justin: Of course. Thanks so much.
Gene: Everybody, you’ve been watching and listening to The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. Thank you very much for taking the time. If you need any advice or help or tips running your business, please visit us at smallbizahead.com or sba.thehartford.com. My name is Gene Marks. Again, thank you. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.
Gene: Thanks so much for joining us on this week’s episode of The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. Please give us a shout-out on your favorite podcast platform. Your ratings, reviews, and your comments really help us formulate our topics and help us grow this podcast. So thank you so much. It’s been great spending time with you. We’ll see you again soon.
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