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Founders have spent a lot of time over the past few years trying to build practical consumer use cases for AI and machine learning. AI startup Advocate thinks that the tech could help people apply for federal government benefits more easily.

The New York–based startup was founded by Emilie Poteat, who got the idea after watching her stepfather try to get social security benefits. Despite being eligible, it was a complicated process for him to apply and even once he did, he spent months waiting to hear back. Years later, Poteat realized that AI may be able to improve that process.

Poteat came on TechCrunch’s Found podcast this week to discuss why automating the application process using AI could help numerous people access government benefits easier. She also talked about why government benefits is the perfect place to build an AI model due to its plethora of documentation, policies and data that a closed-loop system could learn from.

She shared what it has been like chatting with the government about building a third-party add-on to their existing infrastructure and why the government seems open to working with an outside organization instead of building out the tech itself.

This episode also dives into the company-building process for Poteat and Advocate as the startup hasn’t fully launched yet. Poteat also talked about fundraising for the startup and how she had better luck with the firms that want to back moonshots than she did with the firms that focus on women and LGBTQ+ founders like herself.

Poteat hopes that eventually the company will be able to help anyone who is eligible for any government benefit have an easier time applying and plans to start expanding into more government benefit verticals shortly after launch.

“It was not that the government was out to get people but rather that there was a missing piece of infrastructure, like a bridge or a road, but technological infrastructure that would sit between the American public and its federal government,” Poteat said. ” So we set out to build it.”

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