Writing is an art but can be very annoying sometimes when grammar and spelling bob up as villains. Most of us struggle to put our thoughts into the right words and lose the chance for publishing a good article or pitch presentation. How long can the struggle prevail? Not anymore, we say! We’ve with us Instoried, a deep-tech start-up enabling enterprises and individuals to create emotionally engaging content and thereby improve their ROI. Instoried equips you to tell your story using the best possible words, in the best possible way! To know more, check out the interview we prepared with Sharmin Ali, Founder & CEO, Instoried.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Instoried is a deep-tech startup enabling enterprises and individuals to create emotionally engaging content thereby improving their ROI. Instoried analyzes, predicts and optimizes the emotional quotient, tonality and relevance of written content across formats like blogs, articles, social media posts. Our platform helps content writers, in the SME category, e-commerce, FMCG, and other verticals to optimize emotions in their marketing content.
In short, Instoried enables you to tell your story using the best possible words, in the best possible way!
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
I was working with Mu Sigma, a technology company, and dealing with Fortune 500 companies in the USA. I loved writing and reading stories. My experience with both gave me the insight that corporations of all sizes were poor at communicating effectively! They have a tough time building human connections and communicating with empathy to their target audience. They make marketing decisions based on how they feel they should communicate instead of using data to their advantage. Here is where I thought Instoried would be a good product-market fit in the writing arena.
Instoried helps large companies make their marketing and communications content more human with a data-driven, scalable and repeatable approach using AI.
Our tool is an all-inclusive one where we now have a GPT-3 enabled platform to do spell check, Grammar check, Headline generation, Plagiarism Checker, Panel Testing and Tonal & Emotional Analysis Checker. You can check it out here: app.instoried.com
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I am a storyteller and an avid reader. Culmination of these two made me write two books, the first one ‘Y.O.U’ that was announced a best-seller by The New Indian Express & the Oxford bookstores. My second book was titled ‘How I was forced to become a staunch RACIST’. I have been fortunate to have spoken at various TEDx events and international platforms.
I completed my engineering and immediately joined a consulting company, Mu Sigma. There I got to work with Fortune 500 companies in the US. After working for more than 15 hours everyday, I realised that I was helping the rich get richer so I decided to come back to India and start up on my own. My first startup was in the media space where I authored 70 original scripts. After running that for 3 years, I sold it to a Bombay based production house and exited as I felt that India was not yet ready for a Netflix-revolution back then.
With my cumulative experience I analysed that even large corporations were poor at communicating, and they have a tough time building human connections and communicating with empathy. This realization made me start Instoried where we help large companies make their marketing and communications content more human with a data-driven, scalable and repeatable approach using AI, leading to an increased ROI.
Where is your startup based? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are based out of Bengaluru. In a digital-first world and Work From Anywhere culture, I think any place can be productive, however, Bangalore being the Silicon valley of India definitely has a lot more potential for any tech company.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I think any startup founder will have sleepless nights when she/ he has employees to pay salaries to. Secondly, we founders are extremely hungry to achieve more and that hunger drives our sleeplessness.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
Grammarly would be an indirect competition to us. Our in-house built technology and proprietary datasets render us a beautiful tool with recommendations that are both semantically and contextually relevant. We have worked on our technology from scratch with 15mn data points to arrive at our current evolved product that we all are extremely proud and passionate about.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details.
Instoried has raised $1.5 mn so far from investors including SOSV, Artesian Investments, Mumbai Angels, 9Unicorns, Rockstud Capital, Venture Catalysts, Jain Angel Network, London-based JPIN, and a US-based VC in the pre-Series A round.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
A lot of people have told me UNSTOPPABLE, which is both true and false, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes I do like to stop, take a break and resume once I feel lighter. Sometimes I do get impetuous though I usually carry my brains along with me.
What gets you excited about this company?
Everything actually! From the employees to customers to investors, I love the fact that we are a strong family of 25 employees now and expanding. I love how I’m responsible for 25 livelihoods and how happy they feel working with us.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
This is a great question! But it doesn’t have a fixed answer as every day is different. However, I wake up early and then head out for a nice walk, around 5-6 kms daily. Then I listen to my morning music and have a sumptuous breakfast. And then my day starts on the working table. I usually have 7-8 calls everyday; intermittently I also keep reading a few things on my Kindle. I cook my own food as it’s a good stress reliever. I eat mostly vegetarian, except for an occasional fish over the weekend. I ensure I get 7-8 hour sleep daily. Good sleep is imperative for a high productive life.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Having a team that is aligned with your company’s goal is crucial. It is half the job done if you have people that are aligned with your thoughts.
I knew my co-founder, Sutanshu Raj, from earlier days and when I started-up with Instoried, I thought of him. He joined us as the CTO. One of the greatest challenges was to build a stellar team, it took us time, and are now proud of our people. I would like to mention that 50% of our workforce is women.