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Exactly.ai raises $4 million to help artists use AI to expand their output

With so many controversies surrounding visual artists being tricked by artificial intelligence, it seems like these are tough and confusing times for creators. Now, a London-based startup is hoping to use artificial intelligence to help artists regain control.

Exactly.ai says it uses generative AI to help artists retain legal ownership of their artwork and enables them to reproduce their designs faster and at scale. The company has now raised $4.3 million in a seed round led by Speedinvest, with participation from InReach Ventures, Cornerstone VC, GuruDev Capital, and several angel investors. The startup claims to have 40,000 registered users.

Exactly.ai was founded in 2022 by former journalist Tonia Samsonova, who previously pivoted question-and-answer platform The Question to Russian search engine Yandex.

Samsonova explains how it works: “We let artists, painters and illustrators train their own AI on their work. Then they get an algorithm that can generate images in their style. The algorithm belongs to them, and all the inferences belong to them.”

The idea is for artists to use Exactly.ai to scale up their artwork and sell or license it to clients like media or advertising agencies. The startup may have discovered something secret: The global generative AI market will be worth $668 billion by 2030, according to Fortune Business Insights, and part of that massive market will cater to this niche.

Samsonova says the idea came from a problem she wanted to solve herself. “I’ve always been in the shoes of a client who wanted those images, but the best creators were always busy. So for the client, this was an opportunity to work with the best talent in the world.” [Artists’] Clients care about the quality of the images and want images for their brands from the best creators in the world,” she said.

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

“We make money because illustrators with commercial practices are able to meet more demand. They pay us a subscription fee, and their income quadruples,” Samsonova said.

The company is based on a combination of a base model provided by Picsart and the startup’s own algorithm, which “understands your style and makes images,” she said.

“Our most valuable and unique training data comes from the 40,000 artists who have uploaded millions of images to our platform,” the founders said. “With the data provided to us by the artist community, we can perfect the quality across all styles and genres. Artists contribute their work to us because our technology does not compete with them for work, but rather improves their ability to earn income from their creative practice. We have also integrated over 1 million pieces of open art data from museums, all of which are licensed under CC0.”

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

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