SG’s creative AI platform Pencil raises $1.1m in Wavemaker-led seed round

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Pencil, a Singapore-based creative AI company, has raised $1.1 million (S$1.5 million) in a seed funding round led by Wavemaker Partners.

The other investors joining the round include SGInnovate and Entrepreneur First. NUS associate professor Min-Yen Kan and members of Xoogler Angels also joined as Pencil’s investor-advisors. Xoogler Angels is an angel network of Google executives in Southeast Asia.

According to a statement, the funds will be used to expand engineering and customer success teams, grow proprietary datasets and extend its patent-pending technology. Pencil also announced the launch of its first enterprise product, a creative platform for advertisers called Studio.

Studio, the company said, will help creative and media teams generate personalised advertising content at speed and scale.

Will Hanschell, co-founder and CEO of Pencil, said: “We believe that AI will be as fundamental to creativity in the future as the pencil was in the past. Our goal is to bring the scale and speed of automation to creativity, without killing it. We’re working towards a world where humans and machines collaborate on ideas of all kinds, together pushing the boundaries of what creativity even means.”

Pencil’s clients include Sephora SEA, POND’S and Mindshare. According to the company, early results indicate a 2x improvement in advertising performance and a 10x reduction in time and cost with its technology.

“The number one pain point of marketing teams is increasing their ROI,” said Paul Santos, Managing Partner of Wavemaker Partners. “Almost every solution in the market proposes doing so through greater targeting or better customer profiling…Pencil takes a new and complementary approach, allowing teams to generate and distribute personalised content at scale using AI.”

Founded in March 2018, Pencil is led by Hanschell and Sumukh Avadhani. Hanschell is a former partner and management consultant at creative agency Iris Worldwide, while Avadhani is a former principal at Google and deep learning and computer vision specialist.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.