We have done an incredible job at making the internet accessible, easy to use, and fast. Since these basic functions have been met, the next step is to integrate a more aesthetically pleasing web design. B12 is paving the way for this movement, providing a partially A.I/partially human powered solution for making your website intelligent and attractive. The incredibly simple to use platform syncs with most tools that you already use for easier browsing/
Today we sit down with cofounder and CEO Nitesh Banta to discuss the company’s latest round of funding and we gained some insight into the future of web design,.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We closed a $12.4M Series A round led by General Catalyst Partners, Breyer Capital, Founder Collective, SV Angel and founders and executives from successful companies like Akamai, Stripe, Upwork, OpenAI, Locu, DropBox and more.
Tell us about your product or service.
Our mission is to help people accomplish more as they work. Our first product, B12, uses human-assisted A.I. to build and design websites in a completely new way. By combining smart uses of automation in areas like algorithmic design and project management with highly-skilled creative experts – art directors, designers and more – we are able to streamline the website design process.
It’s a win-win for both customers and creative experts. Our customers benefit from a high-touch experience – equivalent to what you would expect from an agency – and a self-optimizing, intelligent website at a fraction of the cost and time. Our experts are free to focus on what they do best – creative and analytical work, leaving machines to automate away the nagging repetition of mundane tasks, like staffing, process check-ins and quality assurance.
What inspired you to start the company?
It is estimated that 47% of the work done by people today has the potential to be automated by 2034. Thinking about this change is one of the great challenges our society will face over the next couple of decades. Our team came together to think about ways we could use the rise of automation to power a brighter future of work.
How is it different?
The last decade of software has been characterized by powerful do it yourself (DIY) software tools like Squarespace, Marketo and Xero. These tools are a great start, but can be challenging for many users to operate without becoming subject matter experts. We represent a category shift toward intelligent software. By adding a human + AI layer, we are able to do a lot more to make our customers and experts successful, while making the overall experience much less onerous.
One of the most unique aspects of our approach is Orchestra the human-machine platform we built that powers our products. Orchestra was borne out of years of machine-mediated research led by B12 team members out of Berkeley, MIT and Stanford.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are starting by going after the $24B fragmented web design industry. Anyone who has gone through the website design process knows it can be an expensive, frustrating and time-consuming process. We are offering a delightful alternative powered by human-assisted AI.
What’s your business model?
We operate under a SaaS model where businesses pay a monthly or annual fee for our product.
What percent of the work would you say is done by A.I vs. humans.?
The human/machine split can vary project-by-project based on the specific needs of a client. We estimate that already over 50% of the time that humans used to spend on the rote, repetitive parts of design tasks is now completed by machines. The machine performs tasks like staffing, project management, work handoffs, taking an initial stab at algorithmic design, and QA. Expert teams perform tasks like adding fine design detail, interpreting machine analytics to make changes, and complex client/team interactions. There aren’t great metrics to think about how you measure human/machine work, we are starting to create a framework to do this at B12
What was the funding process like?
It was fascinating. I spent the last few years as a venture investor so it was incredibly interesting to see the good and bad of fundraising from the other side of the table. Ultimately, I feel blessed to have the continued support of my family at General Catalyst and specifically Larry Bohn who has been a personal mentor and sherpa to me through the world of venture. Similarly, I am thrilled to welcome Jim Breyer to the B12 family. Jim has an unmatched track record in the venture space and has been an early visionary around the rise of human-assisted AI.
My co-founder Adam and I also owe special thanks to the support we received from friends in the technology community. So many peers and mentors were willing to invest instantly in us when frankly there was nothing to invest in. This support from individual angels is often overlooked, but I can’t emphasize enough how incredibly comforting this early backing was as we took the impractical jump into a new venture. We hope to be able to pay it forward to individuals we meet in the coming years who are thinking about a similar journey.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We are going after a nascent market that will likely play out over the next ten to twenty years. AI is a field where it is easier to see what the world will be ten years from now vs what may develop in the next couple of years. Many investors are still formulating a point of view on the market, so the biggest challenge was market awareness around our human-assisted AI approach.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The investment thesis for our investor base was centered around two major factors. First, a strong belief that human-assisted AI will emerge as a major category for value creation. Second, investors felt we were the strongest human-assisted AI team they had seen in the market. This combination of sector, team and expertise helped us raise our round.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to build our team, while continuing to grow our client and expert bases. To date we have also been a pseudo-stealth company, so we hope to share our story more broadly and contribute back to the larger community.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Think about how you can become better than any other company in the world at one thing. The best way to do this is by listening to customers and surrounding yourself with incredible people.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We will continue to use Orchestra to build intelligent software and power a brighter future of work across a number of different software categories.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
BCD Tofu House in K-town