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While working at Vetan, a startup that helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) manage employee payroll, Jatin Mehta realized that SMBs often lack the tools to thrive online with organic sales. The cost of hiring an agency is beyond their budget, and content generation is costly in both time and money.
Having a great online presence is crucial for ecommerce stores like Shopify and Woo, as online traffic is the bread and butter of their business, Mehta told TechCrunch in an email interview. But existing content marketing solutions are not comprehensive and require experience in search engine optimization (SEO). Businesses need more SEO tools and to hire content strategists, writers and agencies to outsource their content marketing work.
Then, together with Ranti Dev Sharma and Ayush Jasuja, Mehta co-founded SpeedyBrand, which aims to bring high-quality, affordable SEO content to SMBs using Generative AI. SpeedyBrand today announced it has raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by GV (Google’s venture arm) and Y Combinator that values the company at $15 million post-money.
The SpeedyBrands platform, powered by generative AI, can create custom SEO-optimized content, including websites and social media posts for brands. Brands choose a topic first. They then make the platform generate text and suggest images that might be appropriate for the type of content they’re generating.
From the SpeedyBrands dashboard, the generated content can be edited and further customized before being published on various channels. An analytics component allows brands to monitor the performance of content once it is published.
The economic slowdown requires cost-effective marketing solutions, Mehta said. Speedy is well placed to help businesses with an affordable solution.
But there is reason to be wary of technology.
For one thing, generative AI, no matter how good it is, can and does run wild. Thanks to a phenomenon known as hallucination, AI models sometimes confidently fabricate facts. And, due to biases and other imbalances in their training data, the text-generating AI can spew wildly offensive and toxic comments.
In another potential problem for brands, generative AI has been shown to plagiarize copyrighted work. One study found that an indirect predecessor of ChatGPT, GPT-2, may be required to copy and paste entire paragraphs from its training data.
Then there’s the matter of generative AI spamming the Internet. As The Verges James Vincent wrote in a recent article, generative AI models are changing the economics of the web by making it cheaper and easier to generate lower quality content. Newsguard, a company that provides tools to audit news sources, has exposed hundreds of ad-supported sites with generic-sounding names that contain disinformation created with generative AI.
Mehta says SpeedyBrand is not a content producer and that steps are needed to mitigate any toxic content that the platforms’ AI could generate. SpeedyBrands’ AI can be tailored to brand tone and generates demonstrably plagiarism-free content, he says, incorporating feedback of content changes to improve future output.
To what extent is all this true? It’s hard to tell without a third-party audit. But brands, no doubt eager to jump on the generative AI train, seem to be embracing SpeedyBrand.
The company, which has a team of six, has around 50 paying customers and over 1,000 users. Annual recurring revenue is $100,000, and Mehta expects it to hit $1 million in the next year.
That’s impressive considering the competition. SpeedyBrand takes on Typeface, who recently emerged from stealth with $65 million in venture capital. Startups like Movio, Copysmith, Copy.ai, Sellscale, Jasper, OmnekyandRegie.ai are also using AI to (supposedly) make better marketing copy, images and even video for ads, websites and emails.
It is a large and growing market. Statista reports that 87% of current AI users are already using or considering using AI to improve their email marketing. Another report predicts that the generative AI market will be worth more than $110 billion by 2030.
Given that nearly half of SMB owners do their own content marketing, there’s an even stronger incentive within that cohort to adopt tools that could at least on the surface save them time, money, and a huge headache.
Speedy saves a company’s marketing workforce hours of marketing effort from strategy to content generation and then publishing, Mehta said. Speedy gives them and their team back hours every day so they can focus on their core business.
With the proceeds from the funding round, SpeedyBrand plans to implement additional text and image generation tools.
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