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March 30, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Writerly is a new Volunteer State-based AI start-up

Writerly offers more than 50 customizable templates and business suites for uses ranging from marketing, advertising, sales enablement, social media, eCommerce, and research.

There’s a great deal being written these days about artificial intelligence (AI), its various uses, and the start-ups that are being launched. One of those new ventures is named Writerly and calls Tennessee home. 

“We’re focused on delivering highly fine-tuned AI models in a no-code format for our users,” says Jon Ricketts, Chief Executive Officer of the company that launched in Beta mid-November. “We built a platform that allows teams of all sizes to create, distribute, and integrate omnichannel communications that enhance business outcomes.

The Chattanooga native moved to Knoxville in 2008 where he was involved in fintech before it was a word in our vocabulary. Later, Ricketts spent time in healthcare and says, “I’ve been involved at each end of the spectrum from seed stage companies to multi-national corporations. I always enjoyed technology . . . and had an admiration for entrepreneurial risk. What I really enjoy is being a founder, operator, and builder.”

Today, that’s exactly what he is doing, taking on competitors in places like Austin, New York City, and Silicon Valley with a platform that is based on GPT-4 generative AI. The term refers to a category of AI algorithms that generate new outputs based on the data they have been trained on. Unlike traditional AI systems that are designed to recognize patterns and make predictions, generative AI creates new content in the form of images, text, and audio.

The company is headquartered in downtown Nashville in The Gulch and has recruited engineering and product talent across the U.S. Writerly offers more than 50 customizable templates and business suites for uses ranging from marketing, advertising, sales enablement, social media, eCommerce, and research. It is one of the few AI content platforms with a Chrome Extension, called Writerly Go, meaning Writerly works anywhere the user does. 

“ChatGPT delivers general conversational AI,” Ricketts says. “Our templates are specifically trained to deliver highly customized AI models. This is very valuable to our enterprise users who need brand consistency regardless of the medium.”

After leaving the healthcare sector, Ricketts went back to the start-up side, subsequently linking up with a London-based individual to launch Writerly in early 2022. The minimum viable product was incubated in the United Kingdom, and Ricketts acquired 100 percent of the company last summer from his co-founder.

“We began building in earnest in Q4 and launched Beta on November 23 to determine product market fit. We will end Q1 with over 200,000 users and are adding around 2,700 new users daily,” he says.

In a recent article in LA Weekly, Ricketts explained that “content marketing in the digital era is difficult for individuals, teams, and businesses to consistently execute. To compete, messaging and technology must be in alignment. Writerly allows businesses both small and large to generate content and deploy it across multiple channels – in seconds. We bring AI to the fingertips of creators to allow them to work at a greater scale.”

He hopes to have more than one million users by the end of 2023 and is winding down a $1.2 million capital round that is completely angel driven. Many of the investors are located in Knoxville, which pleases Ricketts.

While he located the company in Nashville because the city is “more receptive to software start-ups,” Ricketts says that Knoxville is making progress, and the level of angels that are investors in the initial capital round is a good indication. 

“We have a heavy emphasis on hiring talent in East Tennessee,” he adds. “I want to build a meaningful technology company that has roots here.”

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