Are wrapper-apps around the ChatGPT API — a viable business? (hint — not really)

May 8, 2023


#ChatGPT and #AI have been buzzwords for quite some time, but their impact is now truly being felt by everybody, as their integration into different domains is becoming increasingly commonplace. Especially so, we are witnessing a wave of ‘wrapper apps’ — essentially materialising a sexy UX in front of the ChatGPT API, tailored for a specific industry or usecase, and that’s it.

Is it viable? Let’s think about it together; 👇

Point 1 — No value no gain;

TL;DR — a React Native app with ChatGPT is only viable if it has a solid business idea at its core.

Businesses & startups that offer wrappers around ChatGPT APIs or similar can be sustainable, but only if they have a true USP (like any other startup), and the AI wrapper ‘thing’ comes just as an additional benefit or optimisation. The main USP can be in tech, business, or marketing, and not just a nice Material Design or AntD mobile app, making queries to ChatGPT for tailored results. Businesses need to have experts in their respective industries who have a deep understanding of their customer’s pain points, workflows, and needs.

Point 2 — Fundable? Not so sure.

The second issue is whether these businesses are likely to get investment. Investors are eager to back startups that promise to deliver AI-based solutions for different sectors. The attractiveness of these investment opportunities has been supported by research, such as the report by PWC that estimates that AI will contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The increasing number of funding rounds, such as Appen’s successful $319m funding round, indicates the level of interest investors have in AI-driven startups. Nonetheless, investors also place a premium on the ability to deliver tangible value, which can be proven through strong partnerships, revenue growth, and solid user adoption levels.

Looking back at the first point, imagine your investor asking you “OK, you’re going to get your $1m seed, but what’s the end-game?” — Make sure you have a solid answer here, and not just “we will keep using ChatGPT and add some new forms and screens”.

Point 3 — Ownership — nothing is yours anymore.

I could have elaborated on this more and more, but in this instance — I’ll allow ChatGPT to summarise it perfectly;

A complex issue

Think about what this means for you as a business. Think about scaling it up. Think about what you’ll tell your investors when they ask if you own anything you’ve created.

In conclusion, the growing number of AI-driven startups offering industry-specific applications is a welcome development that highlights the many opportunities for businesses to harness the potential of AI for their advantage. But don’t be blinded by it — it is not enough for a sustainable, fundable, scaleable business. To produce successful apps & platforms, businesses must tailor their services to specific verticals, work closely with domain experts, and deliver tangible value to their customers. If these startups can deliver these qualities, investors will undoubtedly be interested. But if their only benefit is that they have a beautiful UX with nice, thin fonts, wrapping a ChatGPT API and limiting its scope to just a single industry or usecase — that, in my opinion, won’t be enough.

Let's have a coffee ☕️

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