Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the world as we know it, shattering expectations and blowing minds with what we believe is possible. As we sit at the precipice of an inevitable AI boom, a few startups are racing ahead of the pack as true groundbreakers.
Today, we’re showcasing four of those exciting, young companies that are using AI to transform their niche. We’ll highlight how each company is innovating with AI technology to showcase what makes them a groundbreaker, then dive into their background, and founders, and unpack key moments on their path here and beyond!
1. Scale AI — Data Like Never Before
Our first groundbreaker is an SF-based startup: Scale AI, founded by Alexandr Wang and Lucy Guo in 2016. Scale provides its clients with a diverse range of data and AI services (ex., collection, labeling, generative tools, etc.) to help companies leverage artificial intelligence technology with their own apps and tools. Guo and Wang met while working at Quora, both sharing a Chinese-immigrant background and a love for computers.
Scale AI earns its groundbreaking status for its unique method of curating and engineering data: Human-in-the-loop feedback. This leverages human intervention to correct and monitor automated AI workflows. It dramatically improves the accuracy and scalability of Scale AI’s operations.
By implementing their own AI models alongside human-in-the-loop techniques, Wang and Guo have been delivering high-quality data to Scale AI clients at unprecedented levels of efficiency. You may have heard of some of their clientele — Airbnb, Toyota, Harvard, OpenAI, Pinterest, and DoorDash — just to name a few.
Scale has now raised just over $600 million in funding since its launch in 2016. So, it’s valued at a massive $7.3 billion. Wang and Guo have active plans to expand their business beyond data, recently launching Scale’s new Generative AI & Spellbook platforms to enable customers to build powerful AI solutions exclusively in-house.
2. Inflection AI — The Personal AI Frontier
The next startup we’re covering is Inflection AI, founded by Reid Hoffman, Mustafa Suleyman, and Karén Simonyan. With aims to transform how we interact with computers, Inflection is powered by a triple threat of great minds coming together to create something big.
Inflection’s groundbreaking qualities come in part due to its powerhouse trio of founders: Hoffman, Suleyman, and Simonyan. Hoffman previously co-founded the game-changing networking tool Linkedin. Suleyman created DeepMind (acquired by Google) to pioneer the fields of deep learning and AI. Inflection’s third founder, Simonyan, also built a career at DeepMind as he helped achieve numerous technical breakthroughs — look to AlphaZero, AlphaFold, BigGAN, and more.
The sheer business and technical excellence at the helm of Inflection AI is why we believe they’re an industry-defining team ready to disrupt with AI. Their debut on the market was Pi, a Personal AI assistant designed to be kind, supportive, and empathetic. Look to Inflection AI as they innovate at the edge of generative technology, reshaping how AI integrates with our lives. If you want your business to thrive like Inflection AI, then check out this guide on setting goals & expectations as a startup!
3. Replit — Democratizing Software
Our third AI startup is Replit, founded in 2016 by Amjad Masad, Haya Odeh, and Faris Masad. Replit is on a mission to bring software to the masses, offering a powerful web-based developer environment that enables users to build & deploy applications in any programming language directly from their browsers.
So, what makes Replit a groundbreaking AI startup? The answer lies in their code generation tool: Ghostwriter. For developers who are already using it, Ghostwriter generates more than 30% of their code. Likewise, this indicates massive success for Replit’s AI capabilities early on. Also, it’s a great sign that the company truly enhances productivity as it builds out its generative-coding arsenal.
Ghostwriter uses AI technologies to support a myriad of coding tasks. This includes editing simple HTML code, writing complex API calls, and transforming React components. Combined with Replit’s lean in-browser services and robust third-party compatibility, anyone can now harness AI to start building, deploying, and maintaining dynamic full-stack applications exclusively through their browser.
Replit has raised nearly $200 million since its inception seven years ago, with notable investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and Naval Ravikant. With a unicorn valuation of $1.16 billion, Replit is well on its way to democratizing software for all. Moreover, they use AI to do it.
4. 1X — Humanoid Robotics
The final groundbreaking startup we’re highlighting is 1X, a robotics-AI company founded by Bernt Øyvind Børnich back in 2016. As the sole founder and CEO, Bernt is a seasoned engineer. He’s done multiple stints at industry-leading engineering hubs, like NASA and CERN.
Always fascinated by robots, Bernt was a jack of all trades from the beginning. The possibilities and challenges of building human-like robots inspired him. So, he set off to build ones that could perform tasks for us in a productive way. This marked the beginning of 1X and its mission. To build a robotic future with capable assistants augmenting the human experience.
1X is transformative in a groundbreaking way for one simple reason: They’re way ahead of the pack. Bernt and his team have over 10,000 robots in deployment across dozens of industries. Additionally, 1X is innovating at the bleeding edge of science, robotics, and AI. Their first commercially-available robot, EVE, recently became the first humanoid assistant to be deployed in a professional environment; it’s currently operating as a security guard in two industrial locations.
To date, 1X has raised only $38.5 million across three funding rounds. Their most recent round was a Series A2 coming in at $23.5 million, led by OpenAI’s Startup Fund in March of 2023. This valued the company at $250 million. Also, it puts OpenAI at the reins of yet another innovative leap in AI — except this time, with robots.
1X’s future plans are to refine and advance in two key areas: engineering and integrating with AI. So, this starts with the launch of their next product offering, NEO, a bipedal android assistant aimed at simplifying everyday tasks and boosting human efficiency.
What’s most exciting is that NEO will integrate with OpenAI’s GPT-4 and DALL-E models to enable natural communication and perception. This means you can expect this robot to move and interact just like you. With NEO slated to launch this upcoming summer, 1X has an exciting future ahead of itself.