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48. Persado

A motivational speaker that's not human

Founders: Alex Vratskides (CEO), Assaf Baciu, Guy Krief
Launched: 2012
Funding: $66 million
Valuation: $290 million (PitchBook)
Disrupting: Market research, direct marketing
Rival: Zmags

George Kavallines

This New York City-based start-up has developed software that writes marketing copy that it claims is more effective at getting readers to take action. Co-founders Alex Vratskides and Assaf Baciu were working at mobile marketing company Upstream when they noticed that just a few word changes to a campaign made readers respond in a different way. That's when they decided to create the technology that would eventually become Persado.

Read More FULL LIST: 2017 DISRUPTOR 50

The idea of creating marketing messages that take the human guesswork and bias out of the equation is particularly appealing to B2C companies, such as American Express, Verizon, Staples and Caesars Entertainment — just a few of Persado's current customers. Plus, it can do it in 23 different languages. The company says that more than 100 global brands use its cognitive content platform and that they've seen a 68 percent improvement in click-through rates and $1 billion in incremental revenues.

Even though the company is focusing on marketing campaigns, it says that down the road its software can be used in other areas, such as health and wellness prompts in apps. Persado has raised $66 million so far from Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital Ventures, StarVest Partners and Citi Ventures.

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