2019 was a great year for the Superb AI team. As the year has now drawn to a close and a new one begun, we are sharing our favorite moments of 2019: it’s time for our year in review. The collection of images below is a testament to how hard we both work and play, showing both our achievements and the simple but poignant moments at our office during the past 365 days.
We started off the year strong, as all of the Superb AI members got to experience building products and growing as a team at the same time. Superb AI was selected for the Y Combinator Winter 2019 batch. To attend a 3-month long program, our team traveled to San Francisco on December 28th, 2018, where we all stayed in a 5 bedroom apartment near YC. Throughout our three month stay, we did everything together: grocery shopping, cooking, brainstorming, developing, attending YC office hours, and we also played a lot of Wii games (our favorite was Just Dance). “Make Something People Want” was the slogan YC tattooed in our hearts. We focused on building an AI-assisted data annotation service. At the end of the program, we were selected as one of the 10 best startups and featured on Tech Crunch. In retrospective, going to YC with the entire engineering team molded Superb AI to focus on product-led growth and sharpened our mission to “Democratize AI.”
In the spring, our CEO, Hyun, started meeting angel investors and VCs in the Silicon Valley. Meanwhile, our R&D center in Seoul won a South Korean government-led contract worth $1M in revenue. As a start-up established less than a year ago, winning such a high-value deal meant a lot for us. After completing the YC program, our team started to work with leading AI corporations such as LG Electronics, Samsung, Qualcomm, Phantom AI, Niantic, Temasek, and many other clients around the world.
We initially started as a data labeling service provider that uses state-of-the-art machine learning technology to provide AI-assistance. However, we discovered that the problem that needed to be solved wasn’t just “speeding up” data annotation with AI — in fact, the entire machine learning data life-cycle had to be fixed. Machine Learning data is handled by many different stakeholders, such as data annotators, project managers, and engineers, however there was not a suitable collaboration tool for them. It also requires systematic software support for data version control, tools to ensure consistency between annotations and role-based access permission control. There was also a great need for integrating and utilizing existing AI models for semi-automated annotation. To address these needs and solve one of the most painful problems in the machine learning industry, we pivoted to a new SaaS business model: a software platform for ML data. We began building a B2B SaaS product where ML engineers, data PMs, and annotators could all collaborate on.
We closed our Seed Round in July, raising over two-million US dollars from investors in the Silicon Valley, Dubai, and South Korea, as well as from academia, Duke University.
During the summer, we started our first internship program with two interns joining our team at our R&D Center in Seoul. Jungkwon and Jaeyeon mentored Channy, who worked on a research project called “Unsupervised Interlingual Semantic Representations from Sentence Embeddings for Zero-Shot Cross-Lingual Transfer”. You can read about it here. Moonsu was a mentor for Jaehyun, who developed a serverless data flow architecture.
Our R&D Center & APAC office moved to a new office building with a brand new design by Jieun, our product designer. It’s located at the heart of Gangnam, Seoul with a great view of the cityscape and a vibrant neighborhood with great street food and a local market.
From October 26 to November 2, our team attended the International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV) 2019 event in Seoul. The ICCV, of which Superb AI was a gold sponsor, is the largest conference in Computer Vision field. It includes a main conference, workshops, and exhibitions where machine learning researchers, academics and enterprises meet to discuss the latest advances in the field. Our team took a customer survey and introduced a pre-launch version of the Superb AI Suite with ML features: semi-automated data annotation, annotated dataset review for quality assurance, ML dataset visualization, and analytics. During 4 days of exhibitions, more than 1300 researchers visited our booth and tried our demo — and signed up to our waitlist!
We continued our publicity drive with our first public showcase of Superb AI Suite at ICCV 2019. We also attended AI Summit 2019 as the main sponsor, and ran a demo booth from November 27 to 28. CTO Jungkwon Lee presented “The New Generation Machine Learning Platform” on the second day.
As a great example of the quality internships we provide, Channy’s paper submission to the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) was accepted for presentation at the main technical program of AAAI 2020 in New York. Jaehyun also published an article in the most prominent Korean engineering magazine, Micro Software, about the infrastructure of Superb AI Suite. He was also invited to speak at the Korean AWS Community Summit 2020.
Finally (and most importantly!), on December 12, we launched the Superb AI Suite after about 6 months of post-pivot crunch. We have started sending out private invitations to 700+ pre-registered users and will be open to public access soon. We are extremely excited about our new platform service, and we’re looking forward to listening to customer feedback and building on what we’ve already accomplished to make our product even more useful.
2019 was extremely eventful for our team here at Superb AI, but 2020 is gearing up to be an even busier year. Stay tuned for great things ahead!