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Intently raises $3M to launch AI-powered networking tool for startup founders

Intently raises $3M to launch AI-powered networking tool for startup founders

Intently raises $3M to launch AI-powered networking tool for startup founders

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Intently, an enterprise AI startup, has announced the launch of Founder AI, a new product that uses artificial intelligence to help startup founders identify relevant investors and warm introductions within their existing networks. The tool analyzes a founder’s Gmail account and LinkedIn connections to surface the most promising paths to VCs and angels, automating one of the most time-consuming and opaque parts of the fundraising process.

The company also announced that it has raised $3 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, Rebel Fund, Pioneer Fund, Liquid2, Altair Capital and Davidovs VC to fuel the development and launch of Founder AI.

“The big picture here is that obviously Slava and Dmitry built an amazing company in the past, but all of us are experienced entrepreneurs,” said Mika Melchanka, co-founder of Intently. “Every business we launched, we realize the importance of building a meaningful network.”

Founder AI’s ‘Warm VC Reach-Out List’ recommends relevant investors to request intros, based on a startup’s unique network. Credit: Intently

Harnessing AI to map professional networks

Melchanka emphasized that Founder AI is not just another CRM or outreach tool, but a more targeted solution. “The purpose that Founder AI is actually serving is to help you leverage your network that you have, for very specific use cases that you stumble upon when you’re doing business as a founder, as a startup founder. And we start actually with the first use case, which is fundraising.”

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Founder AI combines two key AI technologies — large language models (LLMs) and graph neural networks (GNN) — to parse founders’ email and social networking data, identify relevant investors and recommend the best path to a warm intro. “LLM already possess vast amounts of data… which is pretty much unstructured and parsed from various sources such as social media, news articles, blogs and more,” explained Dmitry Starodubtsev, Intently co-founder and CTO, in an interview with VentureBeat. “But the problem of LLM is that they usually lack interaction between different pieces of information.”

That’s where Intently’s proprietary graph neural networks come in. “GNN, or graph neural network, leverages understanding and precisely models relationship and interaction in data in a more structured way,” said Starodubtsev. “GNN leverages message passing between nodes, which are individuals in our system or companies, and edges, which are relationships between them.”

Seasoned founders tackle networking challenges

The Intently team brings deep expertise in enterprise AI as well as the fundraising challenges founders face. CEO Slava Solonitsyn and Starodubtsev previously cofounded Mighty Buildings, a prefab sustainable home construction startup that raised more than $100 million. That experience gave them firsthand knowledge of how critical a founder’s network is, and how much time networking and fundraising can consume. 

“There is something that is not fixed yet, especially during the AI era that started last year with all the cold outreach, with all these automated messages, tools that can call you, send a message,” said Melchanka. “The actual real connection is fading out.”

Solonitsyn believes there’s an opportunity to bring more AI automation and intelligence to business networking in general, not just fundraising. “Founders are not as much different from other categories of professionals who suffer from the networking burden as well, right? Especially in a world where the same AI created these personalized spam…They’re just another level of spam.”

Focused launch targeting fundraising, with expansion planned

But the Intently team wanted to start with the use case they knew best from their own experience. They also emphasized their commitment to data privacy and security, noting that Founder AI is certified by Google and only analyzes email metadata, not the content of messages themselves.

Founder AI will launch next week in a limited release to a select group of founders. The company plans to gradually expand access and roll out additional features to automate other common networking use cases for founders, like business development and hiring. While starting with a narrow use case, Intently’s vision is to become an essential AI-powered networking agent for professionals in all fields.

“The agents that we develop are automated, and they solve a very particular business challenge,” said Melchanka. “When it comes to, for example, business development, there is certain industry knowledge from doing startups for a while that you can get meaningful introductory paths to enterprise level companies, if you understand who’s doing partnerships with them.”

In a world where “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” Intently aims to level the playing field by making the right connections just an AI query away. With the launch of Founder AI, the startup is taking the first step towards a future where intelligent agents can handle the heavy lifting of networking, freeing founders to focus on what they do best — building the next big thing.

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