Vengo AI and the Spinnr app are part of Spinnr Inc.

Jason Sherman has some big names in his corner, and the big aspirations to match them.

The CEO and co-founder of Spinnr Inc. has written the book on growing a startup — literally. He authored “Strap on your Boots: A realistic guide to building and scaling your startup.” He’s now following his own advice with the two platforms that he and his three co-founders created.

Spinnr is a social networking app that allows people to connect and make friends through short videos. It’s available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The other venture, Vengo AI, uses artificial intelligence to allow a person to generate what its creators say is essentially a personality clone. It can synthesize your written communication to create an interactive persona that emulates your diction and personality.

The founders set out to find solutions to the “loneliness epidemic,” but are finding a host of opportunities in the world of artificial intelligence.

Some of the biggest names in AI are taking notice of the Philadelphia startup. Since the start of the year, the team behind Spinnr and Vengo AI has received $100,000 in grant credits from Nvidia and $150,000 from Microsoft along with $50,000 in grants from OpenAI, Stripe and ElevenLabs. Now, Sherman wants the venture capital world to follow suit as he and his team look to raise a $3 million seed round.

Jason Sherman is the CEO and co-founder of Spinnr Inc.

“It’s complete and utter validation that what we are doing has meaning to some of the largest, if not the largest, tech companies in the world,” Sherman said. “We couldn’t believe it, but then we were like, ‘We’re building something amazing here so we do believe it.’”

This is the fourth startup Sherman has founded in addition to a technology consulting firm he started after graduating college. One of his co-founders, Eric Raymond, has over $700 million in exits under his belt, primarily in the insurance technology industry, and has invested $500,000 into Spinnr and Vengo AI. The startup also brought on former AOL and Yahoo COO Tim Lemmon as an advisor.

Spinnr officially launched to the public in August and now has about 18,000 users, adding some 50 users per day according to Sherman. He’s encouraged by organic growth, which accounts for about 75% of the new users, but said funding will be essential to scaling quickly and growing that user base exponentially.

The Spinnr app connects people through video, giving them the opportunity to build communities and friendships based off of shared interests.

Spinnr generates revenue through a gamified coin system currently available on the app. Users earn coins for completing tasks on the app or can buy their own. As traction ramps up, the team plans to introduce a premium subscription model that will range from $10 to $20. Advertisements will also be an opportunity for revenue growth as traction grows.

“We’ve built the rocket. We’re on the launch pad. We just need the fuel to take off into space,” Sherman said.

If the $3 million in seed funding is secured, he thinks the platform could reach a million users in about a year. At its current pace, it will have more than 30,000 by the end of 2024.

A look at the many features of the Spinnr App.

Sherman said that the funding would go largely to hiring new developers so Spinnr can build out the app with premium features and continue to enhance the AI. Currently, the startup has about four developers working on Spinnr and four working on Vengo AI. Sherman said he would need about 20 in total to get the app to where he wants it to be. The capital would also go toward advertising spend, so “instead of 50 users per day, we could get 5,000 users per day,” he said.

The Vengo AI aspect of the startup essentially creates a personable — and personalizable — ChatGPT. It launched for beta testing a few weeks ago with a few hundred people, according to Sherman.

The technology essentially internalizes a person’s communication to project a matching persona. A journalist could input all of their stories and interviews, a professor could enter their curriculum and lesson plans, a singer could use their lyrics and live interviews. Vengo AI then creates a persona that emulates the human, answering questions and engaging with people the same way the live person would. Think of it like a chatbot that sounds like you and has the same expertise that you do.

Raymond, the investor and co-founder, said there is a “tremendous amount of applicability for all different types of people to clone” themselves.

“That’s the beauty of what Vengo is. We’ve made a very complicated process of training a clone, a persona, to be real quick and have depth to it,” Raymond said.

Sherman said that, in the beta phase, they are finding Vengo AI could have potential with a B2B model and create personas for a brand. The startup could sell the technology to companies and influencers so they can engage with their audiences while saving time.

“If we were able to magically get the funding we need I believe we would truly be the next big thing,” Sherman said. “Because there’s nothing out there like this and people are begging for solutions.”

Originally published by the Philadelphia Business Journal:

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