While working at Vetan, a startup that helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) manage their employees’ payroll, Jatin Mehta realized that SMBs often don’t have the tools to succeed online with organic sales. The cost of hiring an agency exceeds their budget and creating content is costly – in both time and money.
“A great online presence is essential for ecommerce stores like Shopify and Woo because online traffic is the bread and butter of their business,” Mehta told TechCrunch in an email interview. “However, existing content marketing solutions are not complete and require expertise in search engine optimization (SEO). Businesses need multiple SEO tools and need to hire content strategists, writers and agencies to outsource their content marketing work.”
Along with Ranti Dev Sharma and Ayush Jasuja, Mehta co-founded SpeedyBrand, which aims to use generative AI to provide “high quality” and affordable SEO content for SMBs. SpeedyBrand announced today that it has raised $2.5 million in a funding round led by GV (Google’s venture arm) and Y Combinator, valuing the company at $15 million post-funding.
SpeedyBrand’s Generative AI-powered platform can create custom SEO-optimized content – including websites and social media posts – for brands. Brands first choose a theme. Then they let the platform generate text and suggest images that might be appropriate for the type of content they are creating.
Via SpeedyBrand’s dashboard, generated content can be edited and further customized before it is published on different channels. An analytics component allows brands to track content performance once it’s live.
“The economic downturn requires cost-effective marketing solutions,” Mehta said. “Speedy is well positioned to help businesses with an affordable solution.”
But there is reason to be wary of the technology.
For one thing, generative AI, no matter how good, can – and does – run amok. Thanks to a phenomenon known as “hallucination,” AI models sometimes confidently invent facts. And due to bias and other imbalances in their training data, text-generating AI can utter toxic, highly abusive remarks.
Another potential problem for brands is that generative AI has been shown to plagiarize copyrighted works. One study found that an indirect predecessor of ChatGPT, GPT-2, can be asked to “copy and paste” entire paragraphs from its training data.
Then there is the issue of generative AI spamming the internet. As The Verge’s James Vincent wrote in a recent article, generative AI models are changing the economy of the web — making it cheaper and easier to generate lower-quality content. Newsguard, a company that provides tools for checking news sources, has uncovered hundreds of ad-supported websites with generic names that contain misinformation created with generative AI.
Mehta claims that SpeedyBrand is not a content mill — and that it is taking steps to curb any malicious content that the platform’s AI might generate. SpeedyBrand’s AI can be customized to match brand tone and is proven to generate “plagiarism-free” content, he claims, incorporating feedback from content changes to improve future results.
To what extent is this all true? It’s hard to say without third-party verification. But brands that are undoubtedly keen to jump on the Generative AI bandwagon appear to be choosing SpeedyBrand.
The company with 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 reach $1 million in the next year.
That’s impressive considering the competition. SpeedyBrand takes on Typeface, which recently came out of stealth with $65 million in venture capital. Startups like Movio, Copysmith, Copy.ai, Sellscale, Jasper, Omneky, and Regie.ai are also using generative AI to (supposedly) create better marketing copy, images, and even videos for ads, websites, and emails.
It’s a big and growing market. Statista reports that 87% of current AI adopters are already using AI to improve their email marketing or are considering using it. Another report predicts that the generative AI market will be worth more than $110 billion by 2030.
Given that nearly half of SMB owners handle content marketing themselves, this cohort has an even greater incentive to adopt tools that could—on the surface, at least—save time, money, and massive headaches.
“Speedy saves a company’s marketers hours of marketing work—from strategy to content creation to publishing,” Mehta said. “Speedy gives them and their team hours back every day so they can focus on core business.”
With the proceeds from the financing round, SpeedyBrand plans to introduce further tools for text and image generation.