Advancing A.I. for Business: Google Unveils Tools, Indico Nabs $4M

Tech companies continue to develop software tools and services aimed at unlocking the potential benefits of artificial intelligence for all businesses, regardless of whether or not they have skilled data scientists on staff.

Two of the latest examples come from a startup, Boston-based Indico, and a tech giant, Google.

Today, Indico announced it pulled in $4 million in equity funding led by Osage Venture Partners. The company plans to use the money to extend the capabilities of its machine learning and data analytics products, and invest in sales and marketing.

Indico makes software for analyzing text, images, and other “unstructured data” found in businesses’ repositories of digital documents. A financial analyst, for example, might use the software to automatically sift through hundreds of articles and data points, helping ferret out trends and develop investment theses. Part of Indico’s pitch is the work it has done around what’s called transfer learning, which enables the training of custom machine learning models with fewer examples, so they can spin up more quickly. One of the company’s stated goals is to enable customers to find “practical business applications” for A.I.-related technologies, even if the client lacks access to A.I. talent or the necessary software infrastructure.

Indico’s efforts have a lot in common with a new service Google unveiled yesterday, called Cloud AutoML. The service aims to “make A.I. accessible to every business,” helping users—even those with little machine learning expertise—create custom machine learning models using techniques like transfer learning, according to a Google blog post.

The service’s first application focuses on image recognition. Disney, for example, said it’s using the technology to improve its search engine, so consumers can more easily find desired products online.

Other companies offering products and services aimed at helping businesses implement A.I. technologies include large corporations like Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM, as well as heavily funded startups, such as DataRobot.

Indico is still a small player trying to make a name for itself in this sector. Including today’s funding, the five-year-old company said it has raised a total of $8.3 million in equity financing. (Previous backers .406 Ventures, Boston Seed, and Hyperplane Venture Capital also contributed to the $4 million investment announced today, according to a press release.)

Indico brought in a new CEO, Tom Wilde (pictured above), in October to take the business to the next level. At the time, Wilde said one of his goals was building tools and repeatable processes that make it easier to implement the company’s products; up to that point, it had developed products for customers on a “fairly bespoke basis,” he said.

Since then, Indico added “several” large companies to its roster of customers, Wilde said in an e-mail this week. He declined to share more details about the company’s financials.

Indico plans to approximately double its team of 12 people, hiring in sales, marketing, and machine learning, Wilde said.

As part of the investment, Osage partner David Drahms will join Indico’s board.

Jeff Engel is Deputy Editor, Tech at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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