The city’s skyline is a mass of brightly lit office buildings, industrial factories and skyscrapers, the endless chopping of lights and shadows making the night seem teeming with life. In this urban jungle we find Amit Gupta, our dastardly hero. It smelled of fresh laundry, hair gel, and a faint aroma of peppermint. Her costume was a silky blend of potent cologne and a soft, warm scent of leather and musk. His stocking cap was a vivid shade of burnt ochre. His tie was a darker pink. The startup founder’s skin is soft and warm like a newborn. He has a strong handshake and a gentle demeanor. His conviction is deep. The company? Sudowrite. The co-founder? James Yu, who also founded Parse and later sold it to Facebook. Investors ? An impressive list of angels. The dollar amount? $3 million.
In the middle of the urban cacophony and an immense symphony of sounds, traffic noises, sounds of kids playing, sounds of televisions, radios, fire alarms, police sirens, mumbling drunks, he receives a bloodcurdling piece of news. Amit was diagnosed with leukemia and his life was completely turned upside down. It was time to take stock, and really examine what was important to him. He took a breath – was he on borrowed time, or was this just a warning sign?
Gone is the dream of running his existing startup, Photojojo, which was known for drone rentals, weird photography props, and creative photo editing ideas. He sold it and ended up spending time trying to figure out what to do next. The money he made from the sale of his business was no thicker than a thin black sheet, coiled like the devil’s wings, thin as paper, thin as smoke, thin as silk; it was like cobwebs.
If the first two paragraphs of this article seem weird to you, that’s because I used the sudowrite tool to write a bunch of descriptions. It’s hilarious, but it’s also an incredibly powerful tool. Do they make sense? Not always, but that’s not the point – the tool is not intended to replace writers completely, but to help summarize or expand, or spark the creative juices that are sometimes lacking in the writing process. writing. With that in mind – as you can read from the completely bonkers beginnings of this article – it works like a charm.
“I sold Photojojo in 2014 after being sick and going through some sort of soul-searching. I left Silicon Valley completely and traveled. I did all of those things on my to-do list. At one point it was five years since the transplant, which meant I probably wasn’t going to die of leukemia,” Amit Gupta, founder and CEO of Sudowrite told me. “And then I thought to myself – well what do i do with my life i was a coach for a while and then i ended up writing science fiction for the last few years and i really got into it -in. It was really fun and something very new for me, starting at the bottom and working your way up.
During his journey as a science fiction writer, Gupta ran into a problem faced by many writers: writer’s block. Shouldn’t be that hard to write, right?
“I think Sudowrite solves several problems, and I think the specifics are different for every writer. One of the problems I’ve found with writing is that it’s very lonely. Coming from the world of startups where everything is very collaborative I felt very lonely sitting in front of the keyboard, banging my head against the desk every time I got stuck without a power outlet, except for my weekly reading group which may or may not be able to help I think our first impulse was, can we create something that acts like a creative partner that sits next to you, so that when you get stuck you can turn to them and say, “I can’t figure this out? It’s not working, like give me some ideas. That was the initial impetus,” says Gupta.
“We wanted give you someone who is almost as good as a human reading partner, to brainstorm ideas with. Beyond that, I think when we talked to users, especially people in the entertainment industry like screenwriters, we discovered there was a specific need. They have a lot of rote tasks that they don’t like to do: they may have a script they’ve written and they may need to generate a one-page treat, a three-page treat, and so on. , but it’s easy enough for an AI to do. It’s not very creative work, and a tool like Sudowrite saves them hours and hours of the worst kind of work they have to do. I think there are a lot of opportunities like that, but the core product is really an inspirational provocation, helping you stay in the flow.
Gupta was trying to combat writers’ loneliness with a science fiction writing group, where he met his co-founder, former Parse founder James Yu. Together they built an early version of the application based on GPT-3, began to attract paying customers and decided to raise funds.
“We started thinking we were going to raise about $1 million just to get this off the ground. We ended up raising $3 million, almost entirely from individual investors. It was by design: we wanted to have people who were willing to allow us to experiment at our own pace and try weird stuff, without the pressure of doing the startup/VC treadmill,” says Gupta.
The company’s list of angel investors is incredibly impressive and includes Medium and Twitter founder Ev Williams, Gumroad founder Sahil Lavingia, Parse founder Kevin Lacker, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, and founder by Rotten Tomatoes, Patrick Lee. The lineup also includes an impressive who-is-who from the entertainment world, including Big Fish and Aladdin writer John August, Bourne Ultimatum and Oceans Twelve writer/director George Nolfi, and many more.
The company currently has between 300 and 400 users, paying around $20 per month for the platform. Fundraising allowed the founding team to expand the team a little.
“The main thing that this fundraiser unlocks for us is being able to hire. We’ve hired our first machine learning person, our first developer, and a lead designer. Those are the first three roles we just closed, and we’ll probably keep the team at that size for a while while we get into our stride,” Gupta says. “Our users are all word of mouth and span a wide spectrum. We have people who write novels or screenplays. Some of our users create Substack newsletters. We have users who write for their profession. But we also have unusual use cases: a rabbi who uses sudowrite to create parables and someone who uses the tool to write meditations. We also have users creating role-playing games. We have a very broad appeal,”
Sudowrite was in closed beta until today – now you can sign up for the beta yourself to give it a whirl.
Below I embed a video demo recorded by Gupta. It is a few months old, but it gives a bit more of an idea of what the tool is and how it works.