Spice AI wants to help developers build smarter applications

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Masala AIA Seattle-based startup that aims to make it significantly easier for developers to leverage AI in their applications today announced that it has raised a $1 million seed funding round.

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It’s obviously not a big round, but investors will get you a little excited: Madrona Venture Group, Picus Capital, TA Ventures and angels like GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich. And the team behind the stage also has some serious credentials with the CEO luke kim After spending a decade at Microsoft, where he co-founded the incubation team at Azure and led the engineering work for manufacturing Dapr, while CTO Philippe LeBlanc Worked on Azure Active Directory, Visual Studio App Center and GitHub Actions.

The team argues that even today, it is still very difficult to build AI into an application. During his time at Microsoft, Kim began working on a personal project that focused on neurofeedback. To make this kind of therapy more accessible, he wanted to create an AI system that could analyze time series data from any See And, in the process, he realized just how difficult such a manufacturing system still is.

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“It was super tough,” he said. “It’s weird. Because I was at Microsoft – I had all the resources. And I was on this side project – no resources. And in both cases, I saw people trying to integrate true AI/ML into their applications. were fighting for.”

He said that while there has been tremendous progress in AI over the past decade, there is still a big gap between taking that progress and building intelligent software.

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image credit: SpiceAI

“I think about it like the last mile. The fiber infrastructure got built up but it took a long time to actually connect it to your home. That’s the topic I really look at using ML in applications. We really want to fill that gap and make it a lot easier for developers,” Kim said.

He notes that in building Spice AI, the team took a lot of what it learned from Dapper, but also looked at what Versailles is doing with Next.JS, for example.

Now, all of this may sound familiar. After all, there are plenty of startups out there that want to democratize AI. But Kim argues that most of them focus only on making AI available to anyone, which makes data analytics and business intelligence easier and more accessible to more people. However, Spice AI wants to help developers integrate AI into their applications. Unsurprisingly, this means that the company’s target audience is professional developers, not data science teams.

One interesting aspect of how Spice AI is building its systems is the focus on the rewards function. The idea here is that developers can specify what the algorithm should optimize for. If the application controls an air conditioning system, for example, that result will be less power usage. In a project the company is testing with an Australian retailer, the focus is on finding the ideal pickup location for a customer’s order, which may not always be the closest location depending on variables such as drive times, item availability, etc. Is.

The company is also building a package manager (called SpiceRack) that will allow developers to publish manifests with their bounty functions so that others can reuse them for their own use cases.

Like similar projects, the Spice AI team is launching their idea as a open source project. The idea is to release a commercial version with enterprise support later, but the team is also looking at a hosted version, as well as allowing private registries to host their models (the company calls these SpicePods) to enterprises. gives.

“Madrona has been investing in intelligent applications for nearly a decade and is excited by Luke and Philip’s vision to seamlessly bring AI development into existing workflows for developers,” said Asim Datar, partner at Madrona Venture Group. Was GM/COO for Microsoft Cloud until recently. “This is just the beginning, and I am excited to be working with such a talented team from day one to come together on this journey and make it a reality.”

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