16 Aug IU Angel Network invests in new AI platform aiming to reimagine content marketing
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The previous paragraph was generated by GoCharlie, a new, Indiana University-affiliated artificial intelligence platform and recipient of the latest investment from members of the IU Angel Network. The network is one of several major investment programs managed by IU Ventures, Indiana University’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm. IU Ventures will provide financial and other support to help the company further its generative software engine that enables marketers and other professionals to maximize engagement with their target audience through the use of innovative AI technology.
GoCharlie allows entrepreneurs and enterprises to create engaging, goal-driven content for their business in seconds, saving them time that they can use to increase customer and community interaction, ramp up product development and stay on top of industry trends.
The company was co-founded by AI scientists Kostas Hatalis and Despina Christou, the company’s CEO and chief AI scientist, respectively, and Brennan Woodruff, the company’s COO. Woodruff earned both a B.S. and M.B.A. from the IU Kelley School of Business, and is the past president of the IU Alumni Association’s chapter in the San Francisco Bay area.
“GoCharlie is sitting on the edge of some exciting emerging technology, and we are excited to be involved in the initial capitalization of the company,” said Jason Whitney, chief venture officer at IU Ventures and executive director of the IU Angel Network. “Co-founder Brennan Woodruff previously led the university’s alumni chapter in the San Francisco Bay area and has been influential in us expanding our footprint in that important startup market, which makes it even more exciting to be able to engage with him on this personal project.
“Longer term this could be a great engagement opportunity for our students from IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering to intern or be early employees at this fast-growing company building new AI technologies.”
GoCharlie, which launched its first product in May, is designed to provide businesses with high-quality content for every step of the customer journey that can be finetuned and formatted for use across web and social media channels. The platform asks users to input their industry, keywords or an image, and turns these inputs into engaging copy, captions and hashtags. GoCharlie can also take an image and create an ad for it; this capability is the first commercial technology of its kind.
By training GoCharlie through millions of social media posts, the platform is designed to know what content will perform best with an audience. Users can also rate GoCharlie’s outputs with a thumbs up or thumbs down reaction, which is then fed back into training data for updates to the platform. The platform also includes filters so it will not create any harmful content.
“Right now, and likely into the future, the fundamental value proposition of AI is saving time and being able to create things at speeds that people can’t physically reach,” said Woodruff, who joined the company full-time at the beginning of the year. “To this end, you can theoretically build anything with AI. But what we’re trying to do differently within the AI industry is to enable digital marketers and others to generate consistently high-quality, structurally correct, personalized content at a high velocity that is optimized to engage an audience.”
“No writer or painter is going to rely exclusively on AI,” he added. “But creatives only have a certain amount of creative juices, and writer’s block is a real thing. You can use GoCharlie just to get away from a blank screen, to spark new ideas or to tell a different story with something you’ve already created.”
Woodruff, who previously managed major financial activities for SoftBank and Uber, said its founders have intentionally focused GoCharlie on short-form content, including social media posts and ads. However, the company plans to expand its platform to generate blogs, e-mails, product descriptions and other long-form writing. They also plan to use AI to intelligently go from YouTube videos and long form text content into a programmatic series of shorter content, such as social media posts and ads.
“Not only do we want to help you create high-quality, compelling content, but we also want to help you spread out that already compelling content over time,” Woodruff said. “In this way, we’re looking at our AI platform not just as a content creation engine, but also an intelligent system that can repackage your top performing pieces.”
Woodruff is grateful for the financial investment, expertise and mentorship provided by members of the IU Angel Network, which will help GoCharlie expand its capabilities and advance its business development objectives. With little and mostly organic marketing, GoCharlie grew to 550 users and 78 paying customers within two months of the company’s launch. Over the past six months, the company has raised $250,000 in funding from family and friends.
“IU Ventures has built an engaged and energized venture capital community that is actively working to build Indiana University’s and the state’s technology community,” Woodruff said. “Through this new partnership between GoCharlie and the IU Angel Network, I hope we can leverage the ideas and innovations of other IU founders, help them build their networks, get our alumni excited, and provide entrepreneurial and artificial intelligence opportunities for IU students.”
About IU Ventures:
IU Ventures invests in and supports IU-affiliated early-stage companies. Its investment programs include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, Shoebox Fund and Innovate Indiana Fund. It further supports IU founders through the Executive in Residence Program and IU Founders and Funders Network. Student support is provided through a variety of engagements, including the new IU Venture Fellows Program. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. IU Ventures is a recognized leader in increasing opportunities for diverse and historically underserved entrepreneurs and investing in Indiana startups with a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.