Announcements

Announcing Superb AI’s Series B: Making Computer Vision More Accessible

Hyun Kim
Co-Founder & CEO
|
6 min read
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We’re excited and humbled to announce that we’ll continue our mission to make building computer vision applications more accessible than ever with $16M in Series B funding.

Over the past year and a half, three themes have remained consistent for our team - momentum, investment, and experimentation. With each new day, these themes become more interconnected. The more we invest in our customers and employees, the faster our customer base grows and the more novel ideas we are introduced to for developing and applying our platform.

Because of these ideas, we’ve been able to experiment relentlessly, which has enabled us to better bridge the gap between the academic/theoretical application of AI and real-world business use. All have combined to allow us to more quickly develop an end-to-end platform that we know can change the industry.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Superb AI will continue to build the best and most advanced training data platform for computer vision teams with $16M in Series B funding.

Welcoming new investors and strengthening relationships with existing ones

The round was led by Korea Development Bank (KDB) and Series A investor Premier Partners, along with additional funding from seed and Series A investors Duke University (Duke Angel Network) and KT Investment. Halla Group, the parent company of Tier 1 automotive parts maker Mando, is also among our newest investors. 

We’re incredibly fortunate to have some of the greatest minds and organizations in the United States and Korea’s startup world joining our mission to address the most vital issue facing Fortune 500 and SMBs alike when building computer vision programs: data prep. We thank our investors for their support as we grow. This funding will allow us to enhance our workforce and technology stack to deliver more helpful AI and computer vision services to businesses worldwide.

“We invested in Superb AI for three main reasons: the company’s world-class talent, the novelty and differentiation of its data training automation platform, and the value it provides to its customers. We believe Superb AI’s platform has the potential to democratize the use of machine learning for many types of organizations worldwide. We look forward to continuing to expand our partnership with Superb AI and we are excited to see what they accomplish next.”

Kurt Schmidt, Managing Director of Duke Angel Network

Custom auto-label with Uncertainty Estimation AI applied to a retail dataset

What we’ve been building

Since our last funding announcement, our team delivered on a few big promises:

We’ve also continued to build key partnerships with leading ML tool providers like Pachyderm, WhyLabs, and Arize, so you can create more integrated and comprehensive data pipelines. Customers have provided us with a lot of feedback over the years, and we take that very seriously. We’re thrilled to see that our efforts have helped them save time, effort, and budget.

Video annotation tool 

The inspiration behind our mission

In 2018, our goal was to decrease the barriers to AI development by concentrating on the most crucial yet often overlooked phase of ML: data management. We’ve since expanded our scope to tackle this aspect holistically, including everything from automated data labeling to dataset exploration and curation. But where did it all begin for us? That’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. 

At every conference and event I attended, I would run into the same theme whenever I’d chat with regular folk like you and me - teams were spending way too much time on data work. They never seemed to have enough time to run all the machine learning experiments they wanted to. But at the same time, paradoxically, this data work was looked down upon as some sort of dirty work by ML engineers.

Everyone just wanted to work on fancy applications like autonomous driving. Still, history shows us that the less glamorous work often leads to the most significant breakthroughs and societal changes. These same themes would also pop up in conversations with colleagues who had seen and felt the same things.

Our very first office (2018)

We realized at that moment that this was an issue that affected the entire industry, and no one was handling it well. Particularly since there was an obvious solution to it: automation. The science was solid, at least in the academic sense, but productionalizing it wouldn’t be enough. We would also have to do our part to show the industry that the data work can have the most impact on model performance, and we have since championed that idea alongside industry giants like Andrew Ng.

So, in 2019, we released the very first iteration of our automated data labeling technology. And, of course, continued to make many improvements and additions to our platform while retaining our heavy AI-first approach. Flash forward to the present day: that early and disruptive idea of automating labeling processes was the seed that led to the fruition of the solutions that we’ve built and continue to improve upon today, of which automation is the cornerstone to a whole host of other data preparation activities (more on that later).

All the co-founders, except Hyundong, at Y and Combinator (2019)

Our journey to today

Our very first US annual retreat in Napa Valley, California (2022)

So what else has changed at Superb AI since our Series A? In terms of sheer headcount, quite a lot! Our US team has grown many times over, with more coming over the next few quarters. On a more significant scale, the company expanded to over 100 employees today. We recently even opened a third global office, this time in Japan.

Our Korean team at the 2022 Superb AI Workshop in Seoul

We also won significant contracts with globally recognized brands during this period. Plus, our engineering team reached its 100th sprint (meaning they've delivered a ton of features and fixes in that time)!

To break this progression down a little further, Series A represented the chance for us to introduce our product to a broader market outside Korea, and it helped us show early signs of growth; while securing Series B proved that our product model (ML or otherwise) is viable and capable of meeting market needs beyond the current status quo. 

To secure Series B funding, a startup has to show that customers are willing to pay for it, that it works as intended, and that it's adopted as an essential tool for day-to-day, weekly, or monthly workflows. We firmly believe that we've done that, thanks to all the support of our customers, teams, and investors.

Finally, investors are becoming increasingly cognizant of how and where a company is spending money when considering the recent market downturn. Specifically, whether the company follows sustainable financial practices to establish and maintain gross profits, quarter to quarter, or if they're burning through it. Sustainable practices have always been close to my heart, so we have sought to grow sustainably from day one, which has ultimately paid off, as demonstrated through this raise.

"We strongly believe in Superb AI's team and mission as they are producing a product that all can use," he added his thoughts on the exciting applicability of what that product could offer the AI community, "Computer vision is a new but promising technology and this platform that has been created has wide applications across industries. We are excited to see the future of Superb AI."

Hayoung Yun, Director at Premier Partners

Why raise now?

As an organization, we're at a point where we have a strong base of loyal clients that love our product and services. And our platform has been battle-tested and proven to work well across industries, different parts of the world, and businesses and teams of all sizes and maturity levels (as far as ML development is concerned). 

That brings us to the most logical next step: scaling this up. We've already developed a robust roadmap and product plan by listening closely to our customers and asking them exactly what they need and want to see. Plus, we've been working hard on novel ideas that we know can be groundbreaking and disrupt the industry if we can get them just right. Now, it's all about fast-tracking our development process, which also necessitates growing our team and broadening the array of industries and use cases we can tackle. 

With the current tightening of funding in the VC/startup world, successfully raising capital means a bit more than usual right now. As a result, companies burning cash like crazy will be subject to major layoffs and shrinking growth than those that have consciously optimized cash flow. But we want to grow sustainably by further investing in our customers and technologies (momentum + investment + experimentation) using our new capital, albeit in an ever more ambitious way.

What’s next

We firmly believe that every company should be able to create computer vision applications easier. With this in mind, we’ll be focused on building a combination of powerful new products that companies of all sizes can benefit from and adding more self-service features so they can get started even faster. 

Aside from further improving our platform and labeling tools, we also plan to launch a comprehensive set of features to automate data curation and make it easier than ever to find and choose the right data for the right ML task (not just more data). And we plan to add support for more data types, as well as other methods of automating data preparation workflows over the next 12 months or so.

Finally, as we prepare for the most significant growth phase of the company, we are seeing new roles and departments created each month due to increased demand. Even if there isn't an immediate job listed on our careers page for you, I highly recommend that you reach out to us at careers.us@superb-ai.com. 

Above all, we are looking for passion, authenticity, and motivation - we're a remote-first company with employees across the US and multiple countries worldwide. If you're interested in joining our growth journey, please reach out to us - we'd love to chat.

- Hyun Kim, CEO & Co-Founder

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