Startup Story

Kittl raises another $36M for its browser-based design tool

Just a year after raising $11.6 million, Kittl raised another $36 million in a Series B round led by IVP with some existing investors participating once again. The Berlin-based startup has been working on a graphic design tool that you can use in your web browser without having to install an app.

At this point, you might think about two competitors. On the one hand, Adobe has been around for a few decades with industry-leading creative apps, such as Illustrator and Photoshop.

On the other hand, Canva has challenged Adobe on the lower end of the market with popular and easy-to-use design tools. And according to a recent report from Bloomberg, Canva is said to be raising a $1.5 billion round at a $26 billion valuation.

Compared to Adobe’s apps, “if you just think about exporting something from Illustrator, it’s a headache,” Kittl co-founder and CEO Nicolas Heymann told me. Compared to Canva, Kittl “offers a broader feature set and it allows you to have access to the actual graphic file,” Heymann said.

Kittl essentially wants to nail down the middle of the market. The company is trying to build a design tool that is more powerful than Canva and that doesn’t carry all the legacy of Adobe’s applications. The company lets you create an account for free, but you have to subscribe to access all product features.

“As a designer, you usually use multiple tools. You work in Illustrator, you buy stock footage, you create a graphics file, then you browse Pinterest for inspiration. When you have your file, you make an export, you upload it to WeTransfer, you share it to a client and you have a feedback loop,” Heymann said.

Kittl wants to combine all these features in a single tool. It lets you create logos, T-shirt designs, cards, social media posts and more using a built-in illustration library and a collection of copyright-free photos as starting points. The company also has a wide range of design templates with users contributing to this collection with new templates.

When you start from a template, you can change the colors and adjust the existing elements in the design. You can also add your own text and style it based on your needs. When you’re done, you can export your design as an image or a vector-based file.

More recently, Kittl added AI-based features, such as an AI background remover and generator, a built-in AI image generator. The company relies on various AI models through Stability AI’s or OpenAI’s APIs as well as its own in-house technology.

“What that actually allows is that the designer can focus more on their actual work again, so they don’t need to focus on all the manual steps, like getting an image here, getting an illustration there, writing some text here,” Heymann said. “The designer can focus more on the strategy and improve the whole graphic file.”

Kittl has reached more than a million users and is slowly getting some traction from B2B clients. The company names Netflix and Warner Bros. as two companies that have employees using Kittl internally.

Companies like Figma, Canva and also PhotoRoom on mobile have proven that there’s room for innovation against Adobe. Kittl is another startup that is trying to unbundle Adobe’s creative product suite. Now let’s see how far they will go.