London-based AI startup, Instill AI, has announced to have raised $3.6 million in a seed round to derive insights from unstructured data, such as images, videos, audio and text. The investment was led by London-based venture capital firm RTP Global.
The round is also supported by Lunar Ventures (which also backed iLoF). Further, it also got backing from returning investor Hive Ventures; Charles Songhurst, former corporate strategy executive and M&A execute at Microsoft; Demetrios Kellari, Head of Systems and Technology Integration at Cavnue; and Mehdi Ghissassi, Director of Product for Google’s AI/ML Research org. A pre-seed round of funding was provided by Cornerstone Ventures to Instill AI.
As a result of the funding, Instill AI will be able to make AI more accessible to companies of all sizes. As a result, Instill AI will be able to launch a fully managed cloud service of VDP later this year. In this way, community members will be relieved of the stress of maintaining infrastructure. With this goal in mind, the company is expanding its hiring efforts and aiming to double its headcount by the end of 2023.
Ping-Lin Chang, CEO and Co-founder of Instill AI, said: “Unstructured data can be more analyzable, if AI is more accessible. At Instill AI we are committed to making this happen. We believe that machine learning and AI should be as easy to access as other off-the-shelf cloud services in the software industry today. This seed investment helps us speed up the development and strengthen the readiness of the VDP, bringing us one step closer to making the solution to this problem a reality.”
Gareth Jefferies, partner at RTP Global, commented: “Having first-hand experience of the pain that comes with deploying AI services, Ping-Lin and his co-founder Xiaofei found a way to help companies of all sizes overcome that pain and seamlessly bring AI into the modern data stack to unlock the value of unstructured data. We were really impressed by the approach the team at Instill AI are taking and can’t wait to see what they achieve in the next part of their journey.”
Yan Lee, founder and managing partner at Hive Ventures, added: “It has been a pleasure to work with Ping-Lin and Xiaofei to unleash the insights within the 80% enterprise data that is unstructured. We look forward to working closely with new investors RTP Global and Lunar VC to grow Instill AI’s value to the community.”
Integrates AI into modern data stack
The implementation and deployment of an effective AI solution in an organization’s data stack is still extremely expensive and complex, which makes it a challenge mainly for large enterprises. Additionally, building in-house AI solutions requires a large investment and multifunctional teams. Therefore, only large enterprises with abundant resources can successfully build exclusive capabilities and components for processing unstructured data, distilling business insights, or developing AI applications. Moreover, emerging MLOps tools and AI services make tapping the value of unstructured data possible, but provide different proprietary frameworks. The paradox of this leads to difficulties for AI practitioners when integrating them into an existing stack and building a custom end-to-end solution.
For this reason, the UK-based startup has launched a new open-source project called Versatile Data Pipeline (VDP). It integrates AI seamlessly into the modern data stack, allowing it to be used for ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) of unstructured data. Data and AI teams can gain richer insights, discover unknown patterns, develop AI applications faster, and work more efficiently with Instill AI’s solution integrated into their data stack.
Ping-Lin Chang, a PhD in Robotic Vision graduate from Imperial College London, and Xiaofei Du, a PhD in Medical Physics graduate from University College London, founded Instill AI in 2020.