CultTech Media

CultTech.News: 15–31 January

Welcome to the CultTech Digest, your go-to source for the latest updates at the intersection of culture and technology. From groundbreaking inventions to cutting-edge sales, we've got you covered. Let's dive into the dynamic world where creativity meets cutting-edge tech.

Investment deals & seed funding

Almost every day, there’s a brand-new startup emerging on the scene. Millions of dollars are being raised in seed funding; fresh ideas attract investors and vice versa. We will tell you about major investment deals happening within the realm of culttech and highlight the most promising projects on the rise.

Neither Figma nor Canva: Meet Kittl — a Berlin-based startup that raised $36m

The graph design market is pretty crowded these days: you have Adobe, which has been around for decades yet stays relevant these days. You have new players like Figma and Canva. Neither of them requires installing the actual programs — and both of them growing skyrocketing: Canva is said to be raising a $1.5 billion round at a $26 billion valuation, while Figma, on the other hand, was meant to be bought by Adobe — but the deal finally fell through in December 2023. The company is now evaluated at around $20m.

So, Adobe for pros, Figma for quick solutions and Canva for amateurs — what more can any new players offer?

Meet Kittl — a Berlin-based startup that’s offering another in-browser design tool. The startup was founded in 2022 and has raised $50m to date from investors, including Left Lane Capital and Speedinvest, and counts organisations like Warner Bros, Netflix and Penguin Random House among its clients, Sifted reports.

But what is its main selling point? Here's an opinion by Romain Dillet for TechCrunch:
Kittl essentially wants to nail down the middle of the market. The company is trying to build a design tool that is more powerful than Canva and that doesn’t carry all the legacy of Adobe’s applications
Basically, Kittl is all things at once. You can generate an image with its built-in AI or get a copyright-cleared photo from the library, edit it in any manner you want — and then export your design as an image or a vector-based file. Seems too simple, yet with the above-mentioned Adobe Illustrator, the threshold is way too steep for beginners, whilst Canva or Figma lack the tool diversity offered by Kittl.

The Berlin-based startup has reached more than a million users and is already getting some traction from B2B clients. Let’s see if they manage to change the existing power balance in the design market.

Source: Sifted

AI graphic design generator Recraft landed $12 million in Series A funding

AI-driven startups are getting larger like snowballs — no matter if they deal with space research or just graphic design. Recraft, a London-based startup that offers AI-powered graphic design generator, announced it has raised $12 million in a series A round of funding.

The investment has been co-led by Khosla Ventures and former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, with participation from RTP Global, Abstract VC, Basis Set Ventures, Elad Gil and other angels. One may say that there’s already enough tools to make art and designs with the help of artificial intelligence. However, what differentiates Recraft from the rest is its target audience: it aims at the professionals — the brand-oriented segment of design.

Recraft’s team is led by founder Anna Veronika Dorogush, the creator of CatBoost, one of the most popular machine learning frameworks globally, with hundreds of thousands of weekly downloads. Here’s what she says about Recraft’s mission:
I truly believe that AI has the ability to reshape design and influence the way that we look at the world.

Recraft was created to meet the requirements of professional design, generating consistent style images and high-quality vector illustrations suitable for everything from advertising and digital marketing assets to iconography.

The development of our Foundation Model will enable us to improve the quality and consistency of the AI-generated graphic design.

Setmixer raised $760k for AI-mixed recordings of live music

To more investment news in the AI sector. This time, it’s about music (again). Whilst most of the AI-driven music startups work on tools for music creators, UK-based Setmixer deals with transmitting the actual sound: it provides venues and artists with studio-quality recordings of live shows, available to share in near real-time.

Basically, Setmixer has developed a recording system that can anonymously capture and release live music performances in studio-level quality by connecting to the mixing desk of partnered venues. Now fans can join the live music experience from anywhere, whilst venues and artists (and labels) get some extra revenue. Win-win.

Setmixer was founded in 2021 by Pascal de Mul, a long-time employee of the music technology industry, previously working for five years as the global head of hardware partnerships at Spotify and the chief partnership officer at Deezer. Here’s what he says about Setmixer, as quoted by UKTN (
This milestone is a testament to the unwavering dedication of our remarkable team at Setmixer, and it’s also a nod to the extraordinary community of artists who have played their hearts out for their fans in 7.4 million live music performances worldwide,” said De Mul.

Our mission continues: to bring Setmixer’s live music recordings to every venue in the UK and beyond, empowering artists to share their performances effortlessly.

Source: UKTN

Wondercraft, a 'Canva of audio', raises $3 million seed round

Photo credits:

Wondercraft is a London-based startup whose main product is a platform that enables anyone to create professional-quality audio just by typing. Media describe this platform as a “Canva of audio”, due to the simplicity in usage and intuitive interface.

This week, Wondercraft has raised $3 million in seed funding to expand the platform. The round was led by Will Ventures, with participation from Y Combinator, ElevenLabs and Steven Bartlett.

Wondercraft was founded in 2023 by Palantir engineers Dimitris Nikolaou and Youssef Rizk along with former Spotify and Acast executive Oskar Serrander. The Wondercraft tools and templates offer custom AI script assistants, professional music, video generation and ultra-realistic AI voice.

The founders believe they can 'democratize audio creation' in the way Canva simplified graphic design, allowing individual creators and enterprises alike to scale high-quality audio and access global audiences cost-effectively.

One of the main features is called ​​«Audio Studio», which allows effortless creation of ads, podcasts, and audiobooks. Another great feature is «Dubbing», which helps users translate their projects into 15+ languages while retaining the speaker's original voice through a combination of AI and human editing. Overall, the platform may be useful for anyone working with audio: from marketing agencies that work on promotional campaigns — to individual content creators.

Source: Ozone

Speedinvest closed its latest fund at €350m

Speedinvest, a European early-stage venture capital fund, announced it has successfully closed its fourth early-stage fund, Speedinvest 4, at €350 million — €50 million above the original €300 million goal. Here’s how Speevinvest commented on the news on their Linkedin:

The €350M fund dedicated to new early-stage investments combined with €250M raised in 2022 for selective follow-on co-investments in our portfolio companies brings the total raised for our 2022 funds to €600M.

Speedinvest’s sector-focused investment teams have made multiple investments across Europe via Speedinvest 4, including Finres (France, Fintech), Surfboard (UK, SaaS & Infra), Fertifa (UK, Health & TechBio), Cylib (Germany, Deep Tech), Neocarbon (Germany, Climate & Industrial Tech) and Fairlyne (France, Marketplaces & Consumer). Speedinvest’s CEO and Managing Partner Oliver Holle, said:
Now more than ever, Speedinvest remains committed to its sole mission: helping companies build their category-defining business in the early days – when it matters the most. This incremental capital gives us even more firepower to support our courageous, innovative entrepreneurs in their journey to global success.

Source: Speedinvest

Gotiva allows distribute images via jigsaw puzzles. This week, the company raised €1,1m of funding

It might be hard to imagine a platform where everything is turned into jigsaw puzzles might be a commercially successful tool for distributing images. Yet, it is. Gotiva, a graphic startup from Warsaw, has developed Jigsaw Puzzle Universe — an app that enables content creators to distribute and earn revenue from images turned into jigsaw puzzles. On January 19th, Gotiva announced closing a €1,11m round of seed funding.

The funding round was led by SMOK Ventures Fund II, with co-investors including Big Bets (Anton Gauffin’s family office, founder of Huuuge) and Movens Capital, states.m Here’s what Gotiva’s CEO, Sebastian Szczygiel, says on the prospects of the startup:
Our overarching goal is to establish a unified platform where creators can seamlessly participate in content distribution across various supported apps.

We prioritise quality over quantity, envisioning the creation of the largest community of top-tier content creators. Due to the AI revolution, we anticipate that the future will bring more content creators.

To support this development, our platform is open to AI-generated submissions. However, it is subject to a strict approval process to ensure the content meets all legal, technical, and qualitative requirements.


ElevenLabs, a newborn Gen AI voice unicorn, raised $80m in a round led by a16z

ElevenLabs is a London/New-York startup studio specialising in developing natural-sounding speech synthesis and text-to-speech software, using AI and deep learning. On January 22th, the company announced it has landed $80 million in a Series B funding round.

The investment was co-led by New York-based VC Andreessen Horowitz which also backed their last round of $19 million in June 2023. Further, Nat Friedman (former CEO of GitHub, Daniel Gross, Sequoia Capital, Smash Capital, SV Angel, BroadLight Capital, and Credo Ventures also participated in the round.

ElevenLabs was founded last year by ex-Google and Palantir staffers, Piotr Dąbkowski (CTO) and Mateusz Staniszewski (CEO). In the beginning 2023 they raised their first $2 millions — and now the company is evaluated at $1b, which means it’s a unicorn now.

ElevenLabs’ most famous toll has to do with replicating voices in more than two dozen languages — which was actually inspired by the fact that Piotr and Mateusz grew up in Poland watching American movies with mediocre voice dubbing. Their main mission now is to make content universally accessible in any language and in any voice (which can, of course, be used in malicious purposes — but that’s a different story). Here’s what Mati Staniszewski said about the latest funding round:
Our ambition remains the same – to transform how we interact with content by breaking down language and communication barriers. We’re building cutting-edge technology to make content accessible across languages – and voices – to enable everyone to connect with information and stories that matter. Our progress so far is a testament to our dedicated team and investors, and while it’s still only the beginning of our journey, together we’re helping shape the future of accessibility and communication.

German startup SEMRON secured €7.3m seed funding for building 3D AI semiconductor chips

Photo provided by

AI needs a lot of power for stable performance. One of the issues in AI market right now is the overall dependence on chip developers from USA and China — which is one of the main challenges for European market (the reason why so much money is being invested in AI giants like French Mistral and German Aleph Alpha).

The chip issue is particularly crucial for smaller devices — which are often not powerful enough for smoth AI performance. Dresden-based startup SERMON crafts energy-efficient computer chips designed to enhance AI performance in compact smart devices. On January 30th, the company announced it had secured €7.3m of seed funding for future development.

The investment round was led by Join Capital, with participation from new investors SquareOne, OTB Ventures, Hermann Hauser (Onsight Ventures), and Pre-Seed investors Dr. Wolfram Drescher (BlueWonder), Andreas Werner and Sven Sieber (Gigahertz Ventures), and Hans Rohrer, the former president of TSMC. Here’s what Aron Kirschen, CEO and Co-Founder of SEMRON, told on the company’s mission (as quoted by
At SEMRON, we are not just focusing on decreasing energy consumption and enhancing performance.

Our vision encompasses a radical shift towards cost reduction, increased flexibility, and the capability to run vast AI models with billions of parameters on a mere fingertip of silicon.

This is not just advancement; it's a transformation essential for realising advanced applications such as smart contact lenses in some years.


CloudTalk, an AI-powered calling software, landed $28m in Series B funding

Customer’s experience can be a total mess — especially if you think of phone calls as a method of communication. Bratislava-based CloudTalk is willing to change things a little. The startup was founded in 2016 to «help businesses connect seamlessly with customers over the phone and make customer experience the greatest competitive advantage for driving more revenues».

On January 17th, CloudTalk successfully raised a €26 million round, closing its Series B funding — which brings the company's funding to €34 million. The latest investment round was co-led by KPN Ventures and Lead Ventures, supported by existing investors Point Nine Capital, henQ, Presto Ventures, and Orbit Capital.

CloudTalk are planning to use the investments to further innovate the product by enhancing its AI-powered cloud phone system and contact center solutions. According to Martin Malych, CEO of CloudTalk, it’s about time to modernize the existing infrastructure:
It’s been fun to see how our product solves challenges for over 4,000 sales and customer-facing teams across 100+ countries, powering more than 400 million customer conversations. That translates into an unbelievable 665 years of calling.

We’ve seen a growing demand for cloud communication tools that can effectively address the challenges of customer-facing teams. Users want a phone solution that helps with basic things like boosting call quality, increasing pickup rates, and improving CRM hygiene. But they also want the phone solution to be smart.

For example, to summarize calls with artificial intelligence, automate note-taking, and monitor customer opinion via sentiment analysis. That’s why our focus is now intensely on AI, maximizing team efficiency, optimizing conversations, and driving revenue growth for our clients.

Proofcheck, an alumni of CultTech Accelerator, has raised €500k

Proofcheck pitching at the CultTech Accelerator Demo Day

Proofcheck is an AI proofreading app that catches embarrassing errors so that your audience doesn’t. Their in-browser workflow tool harnesses multilingual ML and NLP to intelligently and automatically detect typos and other mistakes in PDF and ePub content, from books and magazines to academic articles and reports.

On February 1st, Proofcheck announced it had raised €500K in a pre-seed round led by BackBone Ventures & BBV Founding Partner Philippe Bernet. Proofcheck's co-founded Tara Więckowska-Merrigan announced the news on her LinkedIn page:
With support from incredible investors like OpenAI alum / xAI co-founder Kyle Kosic, Austrian entrepreneur and business angel extraordinaire Gernot Singer, and the always insightful Angel Invest partner Mara Larson-Richard, we're bringing the power of AI to designed content like books, magazines, reports, and beyond.

Grateful for the belief in Proofcheck's vision. Follow us to keep tabs on our journey of creating the ultimate AI-powered content workflow platform!

Source: Proofcheck

Other news in culttech

AI-driven products have trust problems. How do we go about it?

As you might have noticed from the news above, almost every other trendy startup these days is AI-driven (or trying to be). However, this AI dependency has certain cons — the first of which is the trust issue. Everybody knows about delusions produced by ChatGPT — so why should we unquestioningly trust any other AI-driven products? Journalists from Sifted wrote an article about startups that are tackling the problem.

Read more: Sifted

Arizona State University — OpenAI’s first higher education customer

Most of the previous news on the relations between OpenAI and universities would most likely involve a student getting his thesis written by artificial intelligence and then the teachers a) noticing that b) not noticing that. Academic institutions would then try to ban the usage of ChatGPT over plagiarism.

But things have been changing: some institutions reversed the ban, and on January 19th, 2024, OpenAI has been included in academic discourse in a positive light — Arizona State University will run an open challenge to invite faculty and staff to submit ideas for ways to use ChatGPT. The university has set three main goals for this project: improving student performance, creating new opportunities for innovative research, and optimising organisational processes.

Lev Gonick, ASU’s chief information officer, told TechCrunch in an email interview:
As OpenAI begins to explore how to market or align a business for universities, they’re looking for a design partner, a thought partner, and I think that’s a significant measure of why we’ve come together today to make this announcement. The collaboration with OpenAI ensures ASU becomes an active participant in defining new uses of gen AI in higher education.

In this inaugural phase, our focus is on providing faculty, staff, and researchers at ASU with priority access to our AI tools. Right now, we’re hyper-focused on putting ChatGPT Enterprise into the hands of our knowledge core to be at the forefront of discovery and implementation.

Source: TechCrunch