Sydney adtech startup BlendAI has raised $1.5 million, two years after launching, to help small businesses with their online advertising.
The round was led by Sydney-based venture fund EVP, and is for earmarked for fuelling customer growth, continued product enhancements and hiring BlendAI’s first go-to-market focused resources.
BlendAI simplifies and centralises online advertising for e-commerce stores. Machine learning algorithms distribute content and optimise budgets across multiple channels and helps with ongoing management, optimisation and content creation.
Michael Bezman and Dean Krowitz cofounded their startup in 2021 having worked together in the industry and saw tech’s potential to boost efficiencies and profitability for busy small business owners.
Krowitz said that SMB owners face increasingly complex ad channels, and can be overwhelmed with platforms such as Google or Facebook’s ad manager to produce results.
“Channels are saturated and expensive. Audiences are constantly shifting, flocking to the next, greatest platform, eg TikTok,” he said.
“As complexity of the channel mix grows, the need for a centralised tool to manage the underlying platforms becomes an imperative. Changes to cookies, data privacy, such as iOS 14 release and tracking is leading to new toolkits being developed.:
For most SMB owners, Krowitz says, that level of complexity is beyond their capability and budget.
“The ongoing boom of e-commerce store ownership and the rise of platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce has allowed many new entrants to enter the market. But development of the underlying tooling for these store owners to manage complex tasks such as advertising, has not kept up,” he said.
“We’ve seen a generational step change in e-commerce activity over the last two years. With so many new merchants, there is an incredible demand for ‘do-it-for-me-type product offerings that can ease the stress of day to day management, while not compromising on outcomes. While we remain early in our journey, we have very strong inbound demand and have had quick take-up of the product by our first users.”
Cofounder Michael Bezman said there’s an “enormous” global market, giving them a major opportunity to scale.
“Establishing ourselves in Australia is the short term goal but we have a ‘global from day one’ product offering and we see major overseas opportunities in the not too distant future,” he said.
“We remain driven and committed to driving the small business merchants of our economy and helping them to navigate the complex adtech environment. We envision a future where BlendAI is part of the replicate toolkit any ecommerce merchant uses as they establish their business.”
Krowitz said BlendAI’s mission is to help drive improved profitability for BlendAI users.
“We regularly outperform traditional agencies that are stretched and find it hard to manage micro-business accounts with human oversight,” he said.
“With BlendAI, we can provide the full-service agency experience in a product-led manner.”
EVP Partner Justin Lipman said BlendAI showed early signs of a very strong product offering.
“The effectiveness of Blend’s product, and its current revenue model, means that the business is positioned to benefit from the value it delivers to its customer base. During customer conversations we frequently heard stories of large step changes in Return on Ad Spend (i.e. 2x to 16x uplifts),” he said.
“In Michael and Dean we believe the business has the right founding partners to deliver on the vast market opportunity.”