Sydney adtech startup BlendAI has raised $1.5 million two years after launch to help small businesses with their online advertising.

The round was led by Sydney-based venture fund, EVP, is for: dedicated to driving customer growth, continuous product improvements and hiring BlendAI’s first go-to-market focused resources.

BlendAI simplifies and centralizes online advertising for e-commerce stores. Machine learning algorithms distribute content and optimize budgets across multiple channels and assist with ongoing management, optimization and content creation.

Michael Bezman and Dean Krowitz co-founded their startup in 2000 after collaborating in the industry and seeing the potential of technology to increase efficiency and profitability for busy small business owners.

Krowitz said that The SMB owner is faced with increasingly complex advertising channels and may be inundated with platforms such as Google or Facebook’s ad manager to produce results.

“Channels are saturated and expensive. The audience is constantly shifting and flocking to the next, biggest platform, for example TikTok,” he said.

“As the complexity of the channel mix increases, the need for a centralized tool to manage the underlying platforms becomes a necessity. Changes to cookies, data privacy, such as iOS 14 release and tracking lead to the development of new toolkits.:

For most SMB owners, Krowitz says, that level of complexity is beyond their capabilities and budget.

“The continued boom in e-commerce store ownership and the rise of platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce have seen many newcomers enter the market. But the development of the underlying tooling for these store owners to manage complex tasks like advertising has not kept pace,” he said.

“We have seen a generational change in the e-commerce business over the past two years. With so many new traders, there is an incredible demand for ‘do-it-for-me’ type product offerings that can ease the stress of day-to-day management, without compromising results. While we remain early in our journey, we have very strong inbound demand and have quickly adopted the product from our first users.”

Co-founder Michael Bezman said there is a “huge” global market, which gives them a great opportunity to scale.

“Setting up in Australia is the short-term goal, but we have a ‘global’ from day one” product offering and we see great overseas opportunities in the not-too-distant future,” he said.

“We remain driven and committed to empowering the small business merchants of our economy and helping them navigate the complex adtech environment. We envision a future where BlendAI is part of the replica toolkit every e-commerce merchant uses to build their business.”

Krowitz said BlendAI’s mission is to help improve profitability for BlendAI users.

“We regularly outperform traditional agencies that are tense and find it difficult to manage micro-company accounts with human oversight,” he said.

“With BlendAI, we can deliver the full-service agency experience in a product-driven way.”

EVP partner Justin Lipman said BlendAI was showing early signs of a very strong product offering.

“The effectiveness of Blend’s product, and its current revenue model, means the company is positioned to capitalize on the value it delivers to its customer base. During customer conversations, we often heard stories of major incremental changes in Return on Ad Spend (ie 2x to 16x increases),” he said.

“In Michael and Dean, we believe the company has the right founding partners to capitalize on the huge market opportunities.”

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