This AI startup aims to be a one-stop writing platform

Founded by Rohan Gupta, Anil Jason, and David Silin in 2017, Chicago and Jaipur-based startup QuillBot offers a grammar checker, paraphrase, and summariser.
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Computer science graduates Rohan Gupta, Anil Jason, and David Silin launched QuillBot in 2017 to make writing effortless. They created a writing and research platform to help students and professionals cut their writing time and ensure error-free writing. 

“QuillBot exists to assist individuals who are either not confident in their writing abilities or who need to save time while working. Key demographics include English language learners (ELLs), researchers, and students,” says Rohan Gupta, Co-founder and CEO.

Headquartered in Chicago with an office in Jaipur, India, QuillBot is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) startup hosting edtech writing and research tools that utilise AI, specifically natural language processing (NLP).

Rohan Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, QuillBot

The founders met at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) as Computer Science students.

Anil and David have taken part in several hackathons together, and even won 11 in a row. Anil and Rohan met at the iVenture Accelerator at UIUC, a programme that provides nurturing opportunities for student-led startups to create economic and social value. 

“Our flagship products are an instant text summary tool and a paraphrasing tool, both of which are used by millions of people each month,” adds Rohan.

QuillBot's summariser makes it easy to stay current on news, market data, and long-winded reports by condensing articles or papers down to only the most important points. 

“This means you only read one paragraph but still get all the key facts. Educators, students, and ELLs use this tool to check reading comprehension. Another use case is for bloggers and writers to check that the themes they intend are being articulated clearly by summarising their own work and seeing what the AI finds their key points to be,” Rohan says.

QuillBot’s paraphrasing tool is like having a second pair of eyes for instant feedback and suggested edits; it’s easy to find the perfect word, phrase, or tone to articulate thoughts and ideas. 

“For ELLs, a paraphraser is an invaluable tool for building both oral and written language skills because words and phrases can be seen in context, and the paraphrasing also aids them in expressing and communicating their ideas effectively in English,” adds Rohan.

In March, QuillBot launched its new grammar checker tool that combines spelling, grammar, and punctuation correction backed by AI models, which also flags errors and suggests edits. 

“The grammar checker tool helps users with all aspects of writing from source selection, language refinement, and now, editing for clarity and fluency,” says Rohan. “The free extensions for Chrome, Google Docs, and Word make it easy and fast to use, without the need for a new tab or another open programme.”

Creating citations can be time-consuming, error-prone, and tedious, but QuillBot is building a citation generator tool to help students craft their citations in a seamless workflow, providing them access to a wide variety of sources to choose from. 

“With support for well-known citation styles and informative interface, crafting citations will be easy and reliable like never before,” Rohan tells YourStory.

The USP

Instead of focusing on one particular area of issue for writers, such as grammar, QuillBot claims to be a comprehensive platform that is made up of several tools designed to elevate and strengthen users’ writing.

“Grammarly is QuillBot’s largest competitor, but they have just a fraction of the tools QuillBot offers. ProWritingAid is another competitor, but they also market themselves as a grammar and spelling editor,” Rohan says. “QuillBot as an edtech AI writing platform offers the most well-rounded set of features with three main tools: grammar checker, paraphraser, and summariser.”

With a free QuillBot account, users can use three different paraphrasing modes (Standard, Fluent, and Creative), summarise up to 5,000 characters from an article or YouTube video caption and access the grammar checker. Freemium users can try out all the services offered on the site, just with character and sentence limits, unlike other platforms as free account options.

Team, funding and monetisation 

QuillBot currently has 46 employees, of which 35 are based in India and 11 in the US. Rohan Gupta is the CEO, Anil Jason is the CTO, and David Silin is the CSO. They have a hands-on approach to working within the company.

QuillBot generates revenue through a freemium-based product subscription consisting of three different billing plans: monthly, semi-annual, and annual.

In April 2020, the startup had closed $4.25 million in funding from Sierra Ventures and GSV Capital. Before that, QuillBot was bootstrapped by its founders. 

The days ahead 

According to MarketsAndMarkets, the global AI in the education market is projected to reach $3.68 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 47 percent during the forecast period 2018 to 2023. 

“The technology behind QuillBot’s platform leverages state-of-the-art AI. This technology is not easy to create. It takes deep domain expertise in natural language processing. This makes breaking into the market very difficult,” Rohan says.

“As AI, specifically NLP, advances, we have to move fast just to keep up with the cutting-edge to make our products the best on the market. Recent advances in NLP have enabled us to deliver higher-value features because bigger and better models can be made and run cheaper and faster than ever before. We are always revamping and fine-tuning our products to make them better than ever--after all, we use these tools ourselves,” he adds. 

QuillBot’s goal is to be the world’s preeminent, one-stop-shop writing platform where users can create written work they are proud of, in a fraction of the time via its productivity- and efficiency-enhancing tools. “We are well on our way,” claims Rohan.

QuillBot currently has 7 million MAU (monthly active users), a number way up from the 1 million MAU in January 2020. The company has users from over 40 countries, making it a global platform. It is a B2C product, and the user base includes a variety of different people, including students, professors, research scholars, bloggers, authors, lawyers, journalists, and SEO specialists. 

“With 7 million monthly active users, we expect this number to grow substantially in the next 12 months. We are also looking to build out our team to over 100 in the next 18 months,” Rohan says.
Edited by Anju Narayanan