When we think about David, the lovely humanoid child able of expressing emotions, his story seems far to be real. But Artificial Intelligence is not a science fiction drama anymore. If you meet Daniela Braga, you’ll be as convinced as I am.
With a contagious energy and shooting for the stars, the CEO of DefinedCrowd is working to make the company “the world leader on data for Artificial Intelligence”, she says. And to help the startup pave the way, they just closed a $1.1M Seed investment from Sony Innovation Fund, Amazon Alexa Fund and Portugal Ventures.
It took a lot of work and some more to get to this point, but we’ll get back to this later.
DefinedCrowd Corp. is a next-generation data science company focused on building data refinery platforms for machine learning and artificial intelligence. It combines crowdsourcing and machine learning capabilities to accelerate enterprise data training and modeling. With expertise in speech and natural language technologies, the DefinedCrowd platform leverages machine learning, data science and modern crowdsourcing to enable enterprises easily manage their global data collection and enrichment programs.
It all started back in 2015, when the founders decided to leave their corporate jobs and create their own business. With a little more than an idea, they joined Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Seattle and closed a $200k pre-seed investment over lunch.
After working in China and being established in the USA, Daniela saw Portugal as a natural place to establish the R&D center, because she could make this initial investment last longer and find here valuable talent. The company was however incorporated in Seattle, Washington.
A phD, years of research and experience working in companies that use these technologies, made Daniela identify the trend, recognize the need and understand how to stand out from competition being more efficient and secure for companies.
With customers across the 5 continents, the company has also extended their global crowdsourcing audience by over 100% in more than 36 countries, covering over 30 languages and 100+ dialects.
The investment will be used to accelerate the development of the DefinedCrowd software-as-a-service platform, which combines machine learning and data science with the global power and scale of modern crowdsourcing to enable enterprises to improve quality, scalability, and time-to-market for their artificial intelligence and natural language processing applications.
“it takes a reputation, track record”
But how does a Portuguese founder with a split team convince such investors to get on board? Daniela doesn’t hesitate when she says “it takes a reputation, track record”. The knowledge about the technology, the traction and the vision were as important.
And how to reach them? She leaves a tip: try to get in touch with the innovation departments of these companies. They recognize potential when they see it.
The brand new investment will be important to further develop the platform and to test the Software-as-a-Service business model:
With this funding we plan on accelerating the release of our SaaS-based product line: we will add more data pipelines, more crowd management and crowd diversity features, more quality control and data security features and more enterprise scalability. We have been listening to customers globally, refining our feature set, and are ready to execute.
DefinedCrowd just became the first startup being invested by Sony’s Innovation Fund and the first company funded by Amazon without using an Amazon technology.
Steve Rabuchin, Vice President at Amazon Alexa, believes they’ll be able to help expansion:
The goal of the Alexa Fund is to fuel voice technology innovation and DefinedCrowd is doing exciting work to advance machine learning and artificial intelligence. Their platform helps data scientists and developers build natural language applications faster and with higher-quality without requiring deep knowledge of speech science or natural language understanding and we’re glad the Alexa Fund investment can help expand those capabilities.
The team in Lisbon is going to grow. CTO João Freitas explains what’s to come on product. Read carefully, this might be for you:
We expect to add more self-service features, continue our investment on specialisation on data for AI, workflow and process templates, with state of the art reporting and analytics services, and robust REST APIs. Our ultimate goal is to build the most modern data enrichment platform available to enterprises everywhere.
Daniela Braga doesn’t deny the importance of being in the USA to reach this speed in such a short time. But the company is not leaving Portugal any time soon.