Can AI assist founders fundraise extra shortly and simply?

With venture totals slipping year-over-year in key markets like the United States, and concern that venture firms themselves are struggling to raise more capital, founders might be worried. After all, if private-market investment doesn’t perk up in the coming quarters, we could be on track for yet another year of declines in total startup investment in 2024.

Some startups are working to combat the slowdown, including Intently, which is rolling out a new service this week called Founder AI. The service’s premise is simple: It will go through your personal data, understand who you know, sort those connections based on their own background in terms of what they have built and craft a few recommended paths to warm investor intros from your existing founder network.

The goal is to identify the best ways to reach the most pertinent investors, as most folks won’t make too many introductions for you. That’s why you want to ensure you are aiming at targets who might come good.

Under the hood, the service is a bit more complex; so much so that Intently CEO and co-founder Slava Solonitsyn told TechCrunch that his team built Founder AI first as a services business to ensure that they understood what founders have, need and want, only to later productize that work with the help of AI.

Not just AI fairy dust, mind. The Intently team’s new service uses vector search to sort out relevancy, which by my understanding of vectors — which is admittedly only lukewarm — makes good sense. But it won’t try to vectorize everything. During the building process, Solonitsyn and fellow co-founders Dmitry Starodubtsev and Mika Melchanka had to narrow their focus to ensure that they were using the vectors that mattered, as simply using all possible data points would be prohibitively expensive.

The company pointed out that it has only single-digit millions to date, including a $3.3 million round last spring. The startup is looking to raise more capital it said, perhaps in the $5 million to $10 million range. Of course, how well Founder AI does when it gets into the hands of founders will help determine how much capital Intently can raise.

It has larger plans for the service; fundraising is not the end-goal of its work. Instead, the startup will take its tech to new areas of work in time, like business development. Given the size of the market for sales tooling, that’s not a huge shock of an idea. But having software that can read your own connections intelligently and help you make communication choices could actually help reduce total digital communication by preventing wasted messages. That would be a win for everyone.

Intently is a Y Combinator-backed company, which means it may see early uptake for Founder AI among its accelerator brethren. We’ll be tuned-in to see if its new service becomes something that founders want to use — and pay for. Intently intends to charge $99 per month for the tool, or more if the customer wants to use more data sources in their connecting-hunting. That seems reasonable; the more data a customer wants to bring to bear, the greater the compute costs. So, the higher the price. All told, if Intently’s product works, we might see more total venture activity in the market? Right? Talk about a good use of AI from a startup perspective.