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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."

Go deeper: Coronavirus speeds the way for robots in the workplace

Go deeper

Fight over Putin's pipeline consumes Congress

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration, House and Senate Democrats and even the German government are engaged in a multi-pronged effort to stop Congress from imposing mandatory sanctions on a Kremlin-backed natural gas pipeline.

Why it matters: President Biden's decision to let Nord Stream 2 proceed has put his allies in an uncomfortable bind. Republicans have already blocked dozens of Biden's foreign-policy nominees, and the dispute threatened to derail an annual defense bill passed by Congress every year for six decades.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Shooting at Michigan high school leaves 3 dead, 8 wounded

Police cars restrict access to Oxford High School following the shooting in Oxford, Michigan, on Tuesday. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

A 15-year-old sophomore was arrested after a shooting at a Michigan high school that left three people dead and eight others wounded Wednesday, according to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

The latest: Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said at a briefing Tuesday night that the suspect's father had on Friday bought the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol investigators believe was used in the shooting at Oxford High School. Authorities released the names of the victims late Tuesday.

City Council member Andre Dickens wins Atlanta mayoral race

Atlanta Mayor-elect Andre Dickens in Atlanta, Georgia, late Tuesday. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

City Council member Andre Dickens won a runoff election Tuesday to become Atlanta's next mayor, soundly beating the council's president Felicia Moore.

The big picture: Dickens was just a few months ago considered to have an outside chance of replacing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced in May that she wouldn't seek a second term.

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