London-based Checkstep, which uses AI-based solutions that can deliver contextual moderation, has nabbed $5 million in seed funding. The round follows the $1.8 million pre-seed funding it secured less than a year ago.
Who invested in Checkstep?
The investment round was co-led by Dawn Capital (that invested in Elwood Technologies and Shoreline.io), Europe’s largest B2B technology investor, and Form Ventures, a newly created fund focused on regulatory changes along with participation from founders of GoCardLess, Indeed and Redbus Media Group.
The latest round will be used to further develop Checkstep’s technology, expanding its capabilities so it can continue to provide a one-stop-shop for addressing a platform’s trust and safety needs. It will also fund sales and marketing to support the company’s brand awareness, increasing its efforts to drive sales and the next stage of growth.
Also, the funding builds on Checkstep’s strong momentum. The company recently hired a new Head of Product and Operations, Yu-Lan Scholliers, who joins from Meta, and Head of Engineering Vincent Maurin, who brings extensive software development experience from the online ad industry.
“With the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, getting content moderation right is not only a priority for the democracies in the world, but also a business imperative for any platform hosting user content”, said Guillaume Bouchard, CEO of Checkstep. “The problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic when in-person interactions became mostly online. Today, every major world event is a new moderation issue: the storming of the Capitol, the responses to the George Floyd killing, the racist comments following the EuroCup, the war in Ukraine, etc. Despite a total addressable market of over $3bn, existing technology is insufficient to support the needs.”
“Checkstep is a great example of technology being used for good” said Norman Fiore, General Partner at Dawn Capital. “As the regularity of harmful abuse on online platforms continues to grow, the ability to ethically moderate users and content is becoming increasingly important. We are seeing this increased scrutiny at Government level, with legislation such as the recent Online Safety Bill looking to tackle the issue head on. Checkstep provides a market-leading all-in-one solution to this issue, and we are excited to be able to support it at this important stage of its development.”
Leveraging AI to tackle online abuse
Checkstep was founded in 2020 by Guillaume Bouchard and Jonathan Manfield to tackle propagation of misinformation at the height of the COVID pandemic. Since its debut, the company has expanded its focus to meet the other needs of its customers, covering a wider range of harms such as hate speech, Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), bullying and spam. Recently, it developed the essential features to include copyright infringement management capabilities as the creative platforms are becoming more responsible.
Checkstep’s vision is a safe, trusted and inclusive internet for everyone. It believes that this is achievable with a focus on online harm detection powered by AI that reduces the need for human content moderation and empowers online platforms to take control of their content. Checkstep offers for the first time a UK based full-service solution that ensures clients can scale efforts quickly. The company stands out for the recognition of the need to have fair and unbiased AI.
It was included in the UK Government’s 2021 Analysis of the Safety Tech sector and counts several high-profile platforms among its customers, including a large online platform processing millions of videos uploaded by users, as well as a large Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company managing thousands of moderators on behalf of their online platforms.
Ben Greenstone, one of the world-leading experts in the regulation of internet platforms, has been deeply supportive of Checkstep’s move towards a compliance product. “With Governments around the world moving ahead with regulation for online content and platforms, there’s an enormous need for reliable and scalable trust and safety infrastructure. Checkstep is an answer to that need, in the UK, in the EU, and beyond.” – Ben Greenstone, Managing Director, Taso Advisory.