I’m an AWS AI scientist. Watch me show small businesses how to boost their productivity using generative AI.

Amazon Web Services AI expert Nashlie Sephus meets three entrepreneurs and shares her tips for using free generative AI tools to help grow their businesses.

5 min
June 14, 2024
Dr. Nashlie Sephus, AI scientist, AWS

Dr. Nashlie Sephus, AI scientist, AWS

Written by Dr. Nashlie Sephus, AI scientist, AWS

Few people can say that listening to American jazz collective Snarky Puppy led them to a career in artificial intelligence, but that’s how I got started. I was at college studying computer engineering, and I downloaded the music recognition app Shazam to identify one of the group’s songs. I wanted to understand how the app worked, and when I found out that it used machine learning, it sparked my imagination.

Since then, I earned a Ph.D., became the chief technology officer of a successful image recognition startup that was bought by Amazon, joined Amazon as an applied scientist, and founded a nonprofit education organization in my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. In my current role at AWS, I’m part of a team that focuses on responsible AI, checking our systems and AI models for things like fairness, biases, transparency, robustness, and more. I’m also an AWS “tech evangelist,” which means I go out and speak to individuals and companies about AI—how to use it, and how to do so responsibly.

For my latest project, I’m presenting a new online video series wherein I meet small-business owners and entrepreneurs to show them how quickly and easily they can use AWS PartyRock to help address some of their pain points. PartyRock is a free, generative AI app-building tool, built on Amazon Bedrock, which lets anyone create apps in just a few minutes.

You don’t have to be a small-business owner to use PartyRock—it’s open to anyone. If you’re interested in learning the basic components of an AI app, and how to use prompts to create your own AI apps, I recommend starting with the new Introduction to Amazon PartyRock course on AWS Educate. You can create a free account on the AWS Educate website and get started there.

Here are three examples of how to use PartyRock, which I shared with small-business owners in Atlanta, Georgia, and how it can help boost their productivity.

1. Create a pitch deck for investors with PartyRock, including a competitive analysis

I’m a regular customer at Wadada Healthy Market and Juice Bar in Atlanta’s historic West End neighborhood, and a big fan of their sea moss superfood smoothies. I spoke with the owner, Nilajah, about some of the challenges she faces as a small-business owner. Right now, she’s looking to expand to at least one new location, and for that, she needs investor funding. I showed her how she can use PartyRock to help launch a crowdfunding campaign, from providing her with step-by-step details on how to go about setting one up, suggested copy for the campaign’s different written components, and ideas for rewards for the different tiers of funding the campaign’s backers can commit to. I also showed her how to create an investor pitch deck—including a competitive analysis of other similar juice bars in the area, and financial projections for the next three to five years—to help her market her business to potential investors.

2. PartyRock can help you draft marketing emails in seconds, in different styles for different audiences

Writing copy on the same topic, in different styles for different audiences, requires time and imagination. For my friend Tim, who’s the general manager of StretchLab in Snellville, a suburb of Atlanta, this is just one of many marketing tasks he needs to keep up with every day. He and his team offer customized, assisted stretching to people of all ages, from all walks of life, so his emails and texts need to appeal to a wide range of customers. I showed Tim how to use PartyRock to create a text rewriter app, which can produce text messages and emails, in a variety of styles (for everyone from retirees to millennials to Gen Z), in just a few seconds. Tim said he could probably produce about 20 emails in 30 minutes using generative AI, when it would usually take him more than an hour to do the same amount on his own.

3. Write blog posts for your website with PartyRock, to spotlight your business and boost your hits with search

I speak from experience when I say that as an entrepreneur, you have to wear many hats, and you get pulled in many directions. That’s the situation for my friend Shaniqua—a phenomenal hairdresser (I should know, she does mine) and businesswoman, whom I first met when I came to Atlanta for college. Shaniqua’s company, Pearl Salon Suites, offers beauty professionals the opportunity to rent a space alongside their peers. It’s a ready-made salon without the overhead, and her clients include everyone from hairdressers to nail technicians, lash and brow specialists, teeth whitening experts, and many more. Shaniqua needs to reach three main audience groups—beauty professionals who might want to rent a space, customers looking for beauty services, and potential franchisees for new locations—and one of her big challenges is online visibility. I showed her how to use PartyRock to create a blogger app, which can produce blogs on different topics of interest to the audience groups she wants to target. By creating relevant content, tying it to her business offering, and including specific keywords, PartyRock can very quickly help to improve her website content and resulting visibility in search.

Here are my top tips for using PartyRock:

Start with your pain points

You don’t need to be rocket scientist or have a Ph.D. to use AI. Don’t be intimidated. Anyone can do it. If you want to build an app to help with your business, start with your pain points and work backwards from there. You’ll never know where it can take you.

Think about your prompts

When you’re working with generative AI, the quality of the output very much depends on the quality of the input. Be as precise and specific as possible when you’re asking the AI a question or giving instructions, and be prepared to experiment and play around until you get the outcome you’re looking for. For example, if you sell ice cream products, and you want to make sure they’re competitively priced, rather than simply asking for a list of similar products and their prices, you could ask for a list of similar products in a certain locale, at a certain time of year, within a certain price range.

Always keep a human in the loop

AI has so many great use cases that can help you in your job and day-to-day life, but it’s not perfect, and sometimes it can make mistakes. Remember to always be aware of your intended outcomes, and always make sure you have a human in the loop to double-check the accuracy of the information the AI is providing.

I hope these examples inspire you to start learning how AI tools like PartyRock can help grow your business. Remember:

  • PartyRock is free—Get started with PartyRock today. (PartyRock is not intended for users under 18.)
  • To learn more about PartyRock and other AI tools, create a free AWS Educate account and get started in the AI/ML course section.

Next, learn how AWS game-based training experiences can up your cloud skills.

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