OthersideAI Inc., a Melville startup that harnesses artificial intelligence to ease the drudgery of writing emails, has snared $2.6 million in a funding round led by a West Coast venture capital firm.
The seed funding round was led by Madrona Venture Group, an early investor in fellow Seattle company and online colossus Amazon.com Inc. Madrona, which manages $1.8 billion in assets, also has invested in several other AI startups.
The OthersideAI tool allows writers to jot down a few fragmentary bullet points that the software expands into a fully formed email. If desired, the software will write the email in Mandarin or one of several other languages.
OthersideAI was cofounded in July by 20-year-old chief executive Matt Shumer, who is taking a gap year from his studies at Syracuse University as he builds the company.
He met the other co-founders — product developer Miles Feldstein of Syracuse and user-experience designer Jason Kuperberg of Rochester — through Syracuse University’s technology and entrepreneurship programs.
Shumer, who has been working out of his parents’ house in Melville, said AI tools will become “ubiquitous” in written communications within a few years.
Companies that use AI in communicating will be more efficient, much as a company that uses email is more efficient than a company that just mails physical letters, Shumer said.
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About 100 people are testing the premarket version of the software and about 10,000 are on the waiting list, he said.
The current version operates as an extension of the Chrome browser and only works with Google’s Gmail service, but plans call for extending the tool to additional email programs within a few months and eventually integrating with enterprise tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Shumer said the funding will allow the company to increase head count to as many as seven by year’s end and 15 within the next year.
A spokeswoman for Madrona said OthersideAI’s youthful executives display “passion” and “focus on the customer” in a company with a “big market.”
OthersideAI is built on natural language software created by San Francisco-based OpenAI, which was cofounded by Tesla’s Elon Musk.
The OpenAI software, GPT-3, expands and adds context to the user’s notes and even attempts to mimic the human’s style based on a few writing samples submitted beforehand.
Shumer said the company is working closely with OpenAI to ensure that the software is not used to create spam campaigns.
While Melville has been the company’s official home, Shumer said a decision on a permanent location will be made in early 2021.
Ken Schachter covers corporate news, including technology and aerospace, and other business topics for Newsday. He has also worked at The Miami Herald and The Jerusalem Post.