Catching Up with May Habib, Co-Founder and CEO at Writer

Man on laptop writing

MP recently had the opportunity to speak with May Habib, co-founder and CEO of Writer, an AI writing assistant for teams. Before founding Writer, she served as a vice president at one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, where she was the first employee on the technology investment team, building a portfolio now worth over $30B. 

May started her career in the New York office of Lehman Brothers, where she helped US software companies raise capital. May earned her AB degree in Economics and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, where she was the Associate Managing Editor of The Harvard Crimson.

May Habib headshot
Photo courtesy of May Habib

Writer

What is Writer?  

Writer is the AI writing assistant for the world’s smartest teams. We help content, marketing, brand, and other leaders scale their messaging, communication style, and must-have language, no matter who’s writing. We’re working with companies like Twitter, Intuit, and The Discovery Channel to standardize their content creation and help them make sure that their people’s internal and external communication matches their cultural and brand values.

Why did you start Writer?

My career started in tech banking and then moved into tech investing. As a writer at heart, I noticed that people needed help writing clear, consistent, on-brand content for their business – both in marketing and just across the board — in customer success, support, sales, HR, and more. 

Most teams don’t have the staff and resources needed to handle the large amounts of content they need to produce, so we began to think about a better way to do this and keep business content aligned with the help of technology. From there, Writer was born to help companies throughout all of their departments improve and streamline their communication.

How is Writer different from other writing assistance apps?

Many writing assistants are focused on the technical aspects of writing, and they are optimized for “single-player” mode. At Writer, we’re all about teams and the particular challenges they face around scaling messaging, staying consistent with the brand, and encouraging healthy and inclusive communication.

We sit in-line and suggest not only spelling and grammar corrections, but also ways to make writing crisp, clear, healthy, and on-brand. Another key difference is we designed Writer with enterprise security and privacy in mind, such as not using customers’ writing to train our AI. For that reason, we’re a logical choice not just for content, marketing, and editorial owners, but also for their IT and security counterparts.  

What do you think Writer will evolve into over the next 5 years?

Our use of AI has been a game-changer in business writing, but there is much more we plan to offer our customers in the next few years as we continue to build upon our technology and data.  

Enterpreneurship

When did you first want to follow an entrepreneurial path?

Realizing the communications challenges so many face in work environments and how there wasn’t a real solution for it was an “aha” moment for me. I’ve always been focused on solving problems, but that epiphany was when I really saw a clear path forward and transitioned from an employee to an entrepreneur mindset.

What are your greatest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage them?

To a degree, fear is healthy to help you navigate and forge forward with building a successful business. Knowing what the next step is and how to navigate it can bring on anxiety, but I have found that surrounding myself with smart, kind people to collaborate with has been really helpful. 

Getting to know other CEOs in the SaaS industry, especially those who are a couple of phases ahead of me, has given me the needed insights, motivation, and confidence to realize when I’m making (or not) the right decisions in growing the business. 

What questions should would-be entrepreneurs ask themselves before starting a new venture, and why?

Don’t undervalue having a business plan. In doing so you are forced to ask yourself pertinent questions about the legitimacy of your business idea and potential success in the marketplace. 

Questions that will come up in that process such as “Who is your customer?” and “How much is needed to start the business?” will help you determine how to succeed, but I think the very first question you need to ask before doing anything else is “How passionate am I about this business idea?” 

Be sure you can answer this enthusiastically in the affirmative. Without the passion, you won’t have the motivation and grit to overcome the inevitable hurdles every business faces in the start-up phase and beyond.

Pitching Investors

What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking to pitch an investor? 

Do everything you can to start the business without major funding. 

Showing that there’s real pain across a large enough swath of people and that the unit economics work are the right starting point when seeking out funding. 

Depending on your business and stage, early proof points can be successful pilots to repeat sales within accounts to market virality.  

Other

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Most people who become entrepreneurs wouldn’t have it any other way.

So that should be encouraging 🙂