Machine learning is still in its infancy, according to tech pioneer Tom Siebel, who made the statement in a Thursday interview with Fortune and plans to make it a big part of his Internet-of-Things analytics business, C3 IoT. But if that is the case, there are a number of startups who are on the verge of bringing machine learning to the next level.
If you need a refresher, machine learning is a subset of artificial intelligence that’s all about creating algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data. And it can be used for a number of applications, ranging from virtual assistants that can help you with travel planning to a platform that helps scientists improve the reproducibility of their experiments.
Out of all the companies incorporating machine learning into their products, we picked 12 startups in the Boston area that have been making some big moves recently, primarily in the form of raising new money. Beyond the two examples mentioned above, these companies are using machine learning to perform a number of other tasks, including finding vulnerabilities in software built with open source components and helping consumers find the best car insurance deals.
With that, here are 12 Boston-area startups aiming to change the world with machine learning:
Launched in 2015, this Boston startup is developing a cloud platform that uses machine learning to automate data engineering processes. In doing so, it aims to simplify the data infrastructure for companies working in the Internet of Things, logistics and operations “that must use a large number of varied data streams to make real-time predictions.” In January, the startup raised a $1.8 million seed round from Flybridge Capital Partners, Founder Collective, Project 11 Ventures and Hyperplane Venture Capital. It was founded by Rohit Gupta, a former TechStars Boston Director, and Brendan Kohler, former software senior software engineer at Seldera.
Talla was started last year by Backupify founder Rob May, and it’s developing a virtual assistant that combines natural language processing and deep learning to help companies with marketing, office management and recruitment tasks right from the comfort of your Slack, Hipchat or Gchat. For Instance, according to Xconomy, it can “manage tasks such as compiling interview notes from different people in a company, or responding to basic requests for information from candidates.” Talla recently disclosed that it has raised a little under $4 million from Jason Calacanis’s Launch fund, Charlie O’Donnell from Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Avalon Ventures, Hyperplane Venture Capital, Converge Venture Partners and Stage 1 Ventures.
Lexumo is a Cambridge-based Draper Labs spinout that is developing the “world’s first automated cloud-based service” that combines big data analytics, machine learning and software analysis to find vulnerabilities in software built with open source components. The startup recently raised a $4.89 million seed round from Accomplice, .406 Ventures and Draper to continue developing and commercializing its platform while adding more people to its sales and marketing teams. It was founded in 2015 by former Draper employees Brad Gaynor, Nathan Shnidman and Richard Carback.
DataRobot uses machine-learning automation to “shrink the data science project backlog that is growing in many companies due to the serious shortage of machine learning skills.” The company’s platform does this by letting data scientists, statisticians, business analysts and software developers “build and implement predictive applications using open source and custom machine learning algorithms, in industries including financial services, healthcare, life science, marketing services.” The company recently raised a $33 million Series B round led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Accomplice, Intel Capital, IA Ventures, Recruit Strategic Partners and New York Life. It also recently moved into a new and larger office on Boston’s waterfront to accommodate its growing team. The company was founded in 2012 by Jeremy Achin and Tom DeGodoy.
Semantic Machines is a Newton-based startup that is developing a conversational artificial intelligence platform that uses machine learning and natural language processing to provide virtual assistants for a number of use cases, from ecommerce to travel planning. The startup, which also has an office in Berkeley, Calif., plans to sell the platform to other companies as another user interface option. The startup in December raised a $12.3 million round led by Bain Capital Ventures and General Catalyst Partners. Its CEO and co-founder is Dan Roth, who previously founded Voice Signal Technologies and Shaser BioScience. “Anyone who has a large number of customers, they are absolutely going to need conversational interfaces or else they’ll be left behind,” Roth told BostInno.
Insurify is a Cambridge-based startup that recently launched its online marketplace for car insurance that combines predictive modeling and advanced analytics to provide a better shopping experience. It also launched the beta version of Evia, a virtual agent that combines machine learning and natural language processing to let you take a photo of a car’s license plate, text it and then receive policy quotes and recommendations based on the millions of records of personal information and driving history. Led by MIT Sloan fellow Snejina Zacharia, the startup recently raised $2 million from Rationalwave Capital.
Spiro is a Boston startup with a personal sales assistant app that combines machine learning and humor—sometimes humor that is very dirty—to provide salespeople with data-driven recommendations on when to follow up with the right prospects to close deals, ultimately aiming to help them make more money. The startup in November announced that it had raised a $1.5 million seed round from Vijay Balan, head of global publisher development of Facebook; Rob Wadsworth, managing director of HarbourVest Partners; Tom Tucker, former CEO of Akibia; Christopher Lochhead, co-founding partner of Play Bigger Advisors; and Omar Hussain, CEO of Imprivata. It was founded by Adam Honig, Andy Levi and Justin Kao.
Evergage is a Somerville-based startup that combines machine learning, analytics and big data to provide real-time personalization services to companies like Rue La La, Zumiez and LendingTree. The platform aims to help companies improve engagement with customers by learning their behavior to present them with personalized content recommendations on their websites. The startup in January announced that it had raised a $10 million Series B round led by Arrowroot Capital, with participation from G20 Ventures and Point Judith. It was founded by Greg Hinkle and Karl Wirth.
Indigo is a Cambridge-based startup that is developing “seeds bathed in custom-crafted cocktails of bacteria and fungi that would make crops hardier or more drought resistant,” according to BetaBoston. It does so by using machine learning “to analyze results from gene sequencing and field tests to predict which combinations of microbes suit which crop under what conditions. It was originally started by the VentureLabs unit of Flagship Ventures, which has provided Indigo with $56 million in funding so far. Its founder is Geoffrey von Maltzahn and its CEO is David Perry.
This Boston startup is working on what it calls the world’s first “social robot for the home” that will use machine learning algorithms to learn your preferences. It was first funded through a $2.3 million Indiegogo campaign last year, but the startup has since raised about $60 million in total funding, with the most recent funds coming from Fenox Venture Capital. When Fenox announced its “strategic investment” in November, it said the funding will “help Jibo bring its ‘social robot’ to more households across the globe.” The robot is expected to have high-resolutions cameras that can recognize faces, take photos and hold video calls, among other features. The startup was founded by MIT Professor Cynthia Breazeal.
Elemental Machines is a venture based in Boston and San Francisco that combines software modeling, machine learning and analytics to help scientists and researchers run more effective experiments. It does this by giving them the ability to understand the contextual variables that are affecting their work and improve reproducibility. The company recently announced it has raised a $2.5 million seed round from Founders Fund’s FF Angel, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Project 11 Ventures, among other investors. Its founding team includes Sridhar Iyengar and Sonny Vu, previously the founder of wearables maker Misfit and medical device firm AgaMatrix, along with Elicia Wong and Gary Tsai.
Deep Information Sciences is a Boston database software startup that has “reimagined MySQl for the on-demand economy” with what it’s calling the “world’s only adaptive database purposefully designed for complex physical, virtual and cloud environments.” It most recently announced the launch of its deepSQL adaptive database, which uses machine learning to “deliver blazing performance at extreme concurrency without human intervention. Its CEO, Les Yetton, and chief strategy officer, Chad Jones, were previously executives at LogMeIn’s Xively Internet-of-Things unit.