Seek gets a $7.5 million investment for artificial intelligence that answers domain-specific questions
Seek, a data analytics task automation platform, announced today that it raised $7.5 million across pre-seed and seed rounds that saw participation from Conviction Partners, Battery Ventures and former Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia. CEO Sarah Nagy says the funding will be used to expand Seek’s team into the next year, particularly on the engineering and data science side of the company.
“I founded Seek last year, after working as a quantum and data scientist for more than a decade,” Nagy told TechCrunch in an email interview. “I wanted to solve a pain point that I experienced over and over again throughout my career. I often felt like a ‘human computer’ to translate between my less technical colleagues and the data they needed. For example, salespeople would send me messages there I was asked to retrieve basic but customized statistics for our clients. It would frustrate me because it would take time away from the research I wanted to do, which provided long-term value to the business. From my colleagues’ perspective, it was also very annoying to wait long for me to manually get them the data.”
Seek’s core product is a natural language interface for data that can be plugged into existing data and communication tools, including cloud data warehouses (ie analytics databases stored in the public cloud), in an enterprise. Users can ask questions about Seek that they would normally ask a data team across apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and email.
Powering Seek’s search and cataloging capabilities are a family of AI language models trained on data including e-books, online articles and websites, as well as proprietary data. The platform stores both questions and answers from users in a knowledge base, so that they can be found quickly. In this way, Seek becomes more “intelligent” at working with a company’s data the more it is used, according to Nagy.
“What Seek hopes to do for data teams is to automate the mundane, manual work that has to be done by hand, as it has historically been too complicated to automate,” Nagy said. “As a former data scientist who used to do this kind of work, I know that my quality of life would have improved if these tasks had been automated, and the work I could have done with the time saved would have made long-term, fundamental differences in my companies’ strategy and product.”
There’s been a lot in the news lately about AI confidently presenting answers that later turn out to be biased or actually false. Asked what Seek is doing about it with respect to its own AI, Nagy said the company has filed for a patent on a “control flow” to limit inaccuracies presented to users.
Image credit: Seek.ai
“I predict that as the generative AI hype cycle unfolds, more conversations will be had about the flaws in the quality of AI-generated content, and how users can protect themselves against any inaccuracies,” he added. “My hope is that we will become a thought leader in educating customers on how to maximize the benefits of generative AI while having the right process in place to address the limitations.”
Seek falls into the category of enterprise search engines known as “cognitive search.” Rivals include Amazon Kendra and Microsoft SharePoint Syntex, which draw on knowledge bases to gather answers to business-specific questions. Startups like Hebbia, Kagi, Andi and You.com are also leveraging AI models to return specific content in response to questions as opposed to simple results lists.
Despite the competition, nine employees Seek has managed to sign on “household name” clients, Nagy claims. He would not disclose revenue or names, except that Seek’s roughly dozen clients — ranging from “startups to the Fortune 100” — come from industries including business-to-business software as a service, fintech, direct-to-consumer and consumer packaged goods .
“Generative AI seems to be the exception to the slowdown in the technology right now, and Seek has benefited from the explosion in popularity of tools like ChatGPT,” Muglia said. “[Moreover,] Seek was founded post-pandemic, and our users are knowledge workers who can work from home. As companies’ digital transformation initiatives accelerated during the pandemic, including more organizations adopting ambitious data initiatives, my hypothesis for building Seek strengthened.”
In the coming months, Nagy says Seek’s focus will be on building app integrations, making the onboarding process more automated and “continuing to improve our customers’ experience with our platform.”