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Exactly.ai secures $4M to help artists use AI to scale up their output

With all the controversy surrounding visual artists being ripped off by AI, it seems like these are difficult and confusing days for creators. Now, a London-based startup hopes to use AI to help artists take back control. 

Exactly.ai says it uses generative AI to help artists retain legal ownership of their art and gives them the ability to reproduce their designs much faster and at scale. It’s now raised $4.3 million in a seed funding round led by Speedinvest, with InReach Ventures, Cornerstone VC, GuruDev Capital and a few angel investors also participating. The startup claims to have 40,000 registered users.

Exactly.ai was founded in 2022 by Tonia Samsonova, a former journalist who previously exited a Q&A platform, The Question, to the Russian search engine Yandex.

Samsonova explained how it works: “We enable artists, people who can draw, and illustrators to train their own AI on their artwork. They then get an algorithm that can generate images in their own style. This algorithm belongs to them and all the inferences belong to them.”

The idea is to let artists use Exactly.ai to scale their artwork and sell or license to customers such as media outlets or ad agencies. The startup might be on to something: According to Fortune Business Insights, the global generative AI market is set to be worth $668 billion by 2030, and some portion of that very large pie will cater to this niche.

Samsonova said the idea was born from an itch she herself wanted to scratch. “I was always on the client side and I wanted those images, but the best creators are always busy. So for clients, this is an ability to work with the best talent in the world. [Artists’] clients care about the quality of the images, and want to get images for their brands from the top creators in the world,” she said.

The founder said the startup’s main competitors include Upwork and Fiverr, which artists and illustrators sometimes use to scale up their output.

“We make money because illustrators who have commercial practices are able to serve more demand. They pay a subscription fee to us, and they quadruple their income,” Samsonova said. 

The company is based on a combination of the foundational model offered by Picsart and the startup’s own algorithm, which is “able to understand your style and produce images,” she said.

“Our most valuable and unique training data comes from the 40,000 artists who have uploaded several million images to our platform,” the founder said. “With the data provided to us by our community of artists, we perfect the quality of all styles and genres. Artists contribute their work to us because our technology is not competing with them for jobs, but instead increasing their ability to earn an income from their creative practice. We also incorporate over a million pieces of open art data from museums, all of which are CC0 licensed.”

Julian Blessin, a partner at Speedinvest, said in a statement, “Exactly.ai represents a groundbreaking step forward for the creative arts sector… Tonia and her team have developed a platform that enables artists to embrace generative AI as a partner in their creative process.”

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