A sample of Aesthetic's automation-infused design work. Image: Aesthetic

For his latest startup, entrepreneur and Pinterest veteran John Milinovich is betting automation can help even the highly human task of creative design.

Driving the news: Milinovich's new company, Aesthetic, aims to automate normally costly steps in building out companies' brand identities. It will announce today it has landed $3.1 million in seed funding to test out the premise, led by A.Capital with strategic investment from Y Combinator.

How it works: Humans would still be needed to come up the core brand elements. But Aesthetic, Milinovich said in an interview, would then tap AI to take those basic pieces and turn them into documents and web templates.

  • Aesthetic says it can deliver a basic brand identity and guidelines in four business days for $3,000 — well below what a typical design firm would charge, and in far less time.
  • Milinovich said he hopes that will make good design accessible to even small startups.
  • In addition to the software firm, Aesthetic's structure includes a separate, independent design outfit.

Background: Milinovich started the company with Andrew Look and Nathanael Smith, his fellow co-founders from an earlier company, "deep linking" developer URX. Pinterest acquired URX in 2016.

Yes, but: Other startups have tried and failed to automate skilled white-collar work.

  • Atrium, the legal startup launched by Twitch co-founder Justin Kan, shut down in March after failing to prove itself more efficient than the established way of doing business.

The other side: Milinovich said that his company is trying to take things more slowly and not run up costs too soon. And he acknowledges the challenges: "Anytime you use the word automation in the same sentence as creativity and design, you are met with a lot of skepticism."

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