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Spice AI wants to help developers build smarter applications – TechCrunch




Seattle-based startup Spice AI today announced that it has raised a $ 1 million seed funding round aimed at making it very easy for developers to leverage AI in their applications. ..

It’s obviously not a big round, but investors will cheer you up a bit: angels like Madrona Venture Group, Picus Capital, TA Ventures, and GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich. The team behind the platform also has some serious qualifications. CEO Luke Kim spent 10 years at Microsoft, co-creating an Incubations team in Azure, leading engineering work to create Dapr, and CTO Phillip Le Blanc working on Azure Active Directory. , Visual Studio App Center and GitHub actions.

The team still claims that it is very difficult to incorporate AI into applications today. During his time at Microsoft, Kim began working on a personal project focused on neurofeedback. To make this kind of treatment more accessible, he wanted to build an AI system that could analyze time-series data from EEG, and in the process, it was still difficult to build such a system. I noticed.

“It was very hard,” he said. “That’s funny. Because I was at Microsoft — I had all the resources. And I was involved in a project on this side — no resources. And in both cases people I saw a struggle to integrate true AI / ML into my application. “

He said that while AI has made great strides in the last decade, there is still a big gap between making those advances and building intelligent software.

Image credit: SpiceAI

“Think of it like the last mile. The fiber infrastructure was built, but it took a long time to actually connect it to your home. It actually uses ML in your application. That’s the theme I see for this. We really aim to fill that gap and make it very easy for developers, “says Kim.

He said that when building Spice AI, the team not only incorporated much of what they learned from Dapr, but also looked at what Vercel was doing in Next.js, for example.

Well, this may all sound a little familiar. After all, there are many startups that want to democratize AI. But Kim, most of them, just focus on making AI available to everyone, making data analytics and business intelligence easier and more accessible to more people. Insist that. However, Spice AI wants to help developers integrate AI into their applications. Not surprisingly, that means that your company’s target audience is professional developers, not data science teams.

One of the interesting aspects of how Spice AI builds its system is its focus on rewarding features. The idea here is that the developer can specify what the algorithm optimizes itself. For example, if your application controls an air conditioning system, it will result in lower power usage. The company’s project with an Australian retailer focuses on finding the best pick-up location for a customer’s order. This may not always be the closest location, depending on variables such as operating hours and product inventory.

The company is also building a package manager (called Spicerack) that allows developers to publish their manifests along with reward functions so that others can reuse them in their use cases.

Like a similar project, the SpiceAI team is launching the idea as an open source project. The idea was then to release a commercial version with enterprise support, but the team also considered a hosted version and a private registry (the company calls these spice pods) that allows the enterprise to host the model. doing.

Madrona has been investing in intelligent applications for nearly a decade and is excited by Luke and Philips’ vision of seamlessly incorporating AI development into existing workflows to help developers accelerate and build high-quality applications. “Masu,” said Asem Datar, a partner of the Madrona Venture Group. It was the GM / COO of Microsoft Cloud. “This is just the beginning. I am excited to join this journey together and work with such a talented team from day one to make it happen.




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