Meet Your Artificial Research Assistant

This founder is revolutionizing research and content marketing with AI


Our new blog series, “Preparing for Lift-Off: 11 Founders Launching Bold New Startups,” features exclusive interviews with the founders from the latest cohort of our UFirst Summer Accelerator program. We’re sharing their stories and the daring ideas that are moving their companies forward. We’re excited to be working with them this summer, and hope you enjoy hearing about their journeys thus far and where they’re headed.

This week, meet Tomas Ratia, founder of Frase, which is building an Answer Engine Platform.


Frase Team

Frase operates under the fundamental belief that consumers are increasingly demanding fast information in answer format. However, business websites have neglected this shift and are not evolving to address the changing consumer search behavior. At Frase, we are focused on helping companies get their websites “question-ready”.

This is part 6 of 11 in our “Preparing for Lift-Off: 11 Founders Launching Bold New Startups” series created in partnership with growth marketing agency Ideometry. Tune in each week for another installment! Check out Part 5 with Aleksander Skjoelsvik of TransKey.


Watch Frase Pitch at the 2019 UFirst Demo Day Above! 

Tell us a bit about Frase.

Tomas: Frase is an Answer Engine Platform that leverages deep learning to find answers in long-form, unstructured content. Frase allows your customers to find the information they are looking for in a modern way, increasing the chances of customer success, and delivering a smooth content experience. The user intent data derived from Frase’s answer engine informs new content creation and on-going optimization.

Optimizing content for answers is not a “nice to try marketing tactic” or an optional strategy. If you don’t answer your customer's questions, your competitor will. Click To Tweet

Optimizing content for answers is not a “nice to try marketing tactic” or an optional strategy. If you don’t answer your customer’s questions, your competitor will. Winning in today’s “Answer Economy” requires you to meet today’s consumers’ search expectations by optimizing your content for answers.


Where are you in your development journey?

Tomas: In 2018, Frase launched its AI-powered content creation tool, focused on helping marketers create content that matches search engine intent. We currently have individual users and marketing agencies of all sizes in the US, UK, Australia, and India.

Currently, Frase is installing its first batch of “Answer Engines” on websites. We are leveraging our current agency network to partner with them and give these agencies an opportunity to provide additional value-added Answer Engine Optimization (AEO) services to their clients.


How did you come up with the idea to create this?

Tomas: We started about 2 years ago in an unconventional way: without a customer in mind. Instead, we focused on solving three problems- all related to how NLP (Natural Language Processing) and AI understand language.

The first problem was Document Summarization: using machine learning to perform reading comprehension and summarize big documents or long articles. The second was Topic Understanding: getting a machine to look at a lot of information and automatically detect topics, as well as understand the relationships between the topics it’s detecting. The third was Question Answering: if you have a set of documents and want to ask a question, this function enables you to find answers within those documents.

We wanted to create an AI layer with those three capabilities, so we built a product that did just that. Once it was built, we talked to potential users to better understand where it could provide the most value. We found that companies were spending a great deal of time and resources focusing on content marketing and realized our product could help marketers.   


Your website mentions that AI can help us sort through all the data we’re collecting. Can you elaborate on that? What do you think the human-AI relationship is going to look like in the future?

Tomas: When it comes to the AI-human relationship, especially with NLP, I think you’re going to see more of a collaboration between AI and humans as opposed to AI replacing a human. I think one mistake the media and many people make is that they expect AI to facilitate a super smooth process. Take chatbots, for example. Some companies promote the idea of being able to have real conversations with that machine. In my opinion, we’re just not there right now, and I’m not sure we ever will be.

What I do believe in is an intimate feedback loop between a human and a computer. You could call it “a conversation,” but it’s much more structured than a conversation you’d have with another human.

We’re launching our own bot, which we are calling a Knowledge Assistant, but are taking a much different approach. One of the limitations of current chatbots is that most will only answer a question if the human has set it up a workflow in advance. We believe that if you ask the bot a question and it can’t find the answer, it should be able to ask you follow-up questions so it can go back and perform an even better search. That’s what we are working on — building systems that enhance AI understanding via the question-answer feature I mentioned earlier.

If the bot isn’t completely sure about something, it has the tools to interact with a human to get more information and solve the problem. That is what I mean when I talk about a collaborative approach – it’s not just the human knowing how to utilize the AI, it’s the AI knowing how to utilize the human to get information so it can solve a problem.


What drew you to UFirst? What are you hoping to get out of it?

Tomas: Right now, we’re at a stage where we have a community of early adopters who are using the product consistently. What I’m looking to accomplish with UFirst is setting up a foundation for growth. We’re ready to nail down how we acquire users, improve our funnel, and optimize our onboarding. Our focus now is less about product and more about learning how we build repeatable scalable processes. Having access to advise and support particularly related to the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry and SaaS user onboarding is going to be critical for us and we’re excited to have help from the Underscore team.


Being an entrepreneur, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

Tomas: I use to think that building the product was the biggest challenge, but now that I have a team that has changed. I’ve recently realized that everyone is motivated differently. Learning to manage people and keep them motivated is a new challenge that I am tackling. Successfully delegating can be a challenge when you want to own everything yourself, but learning to do so makes great team management possible.    

More recently I’ve been faced with a second challenge with company branding and customer experience. I’ve realized that when you are marketing a SaaS product , it’s essential to nail down the whole experience, clearly define your messaging, and understand what feature is going to get people hooked on using your product. This has been an exciting challenge for me as I learn to create that first impression around the Frase experience.    


Starting a business is no easy task. What is the driving force that gets you out of bed every day and motivates you to build your business?

Tomas: I’m driven by the desire to make an impact. Our company is small, there are just a few of us, but the positive feedback we continually get from users telling us how we are helping them in their daily lives, making their work easier and more efficient is what motivates me the most. We have a loyal group of users who were early adopters because they believed in what we were building and those first 50 customers give me a reason to keep going.

This is part 6 of 11 in our “Preparing for Lift-Off: 11 Founders Launching Bold New Startups” series created in partnership with growth marketing agency Ideometry. Tune in each week for another installment! Check out Part 5 with Aleksander Skjoelsvik of TransKey.


Ideometry is a Boston-based full-service marketing agency serving a global client base. With a full suite of creative, development, and strategic services, Ideometry helps startups and Fortune 500 companies alike get the business results they’re looking for. If you’re doing something interesting, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us at or email