Sandpiper Ventures Invests in Artificial Intelligence Startup, Begin AI
January 31, 2021 – Halifax, NS, Canada – Today, Sandpiper Ventures announced its investment in Begin AI, an Artificial Intelligence start-up based in Halifax that makes it possible to build proprietary human first technology without servers or data storage, using algorithms that learn users’ preferences in real time. Begin is disrupting outdated methods of data preparation by providing Advanced Machine Learning (ML), tailoring consumer experiences without AI infrastructure.
Machine learning is challenging to adapt for most companies due to data security and privacy issues, as well as complex and expensive cloud setups. Begin decentralizes the machine learning process and makes it possible for businesses to personalize their consumers’ experience without compromising data privacy and without server setups. This provides developers and scientists the infrastructure to innovate.
“Consumers expect personalization in their products and experiences,” states Rhiannon Davies, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Sandpiper Ventures. “Our cars can guess our daily commute and music preferences, our smartwatches tell us when to sleep and stand more, and our nutrition app directs us to new recipes and the foods we are lacking. Products become exceptional when they are tailored to people and their behaviours.”
Through both a subscription and commercial software model, Begin automates all aspects of data experiences from preparation, training, optimization to deployment, while simplifying AI-based user-centric experiences for developers to build upon.
The company currently has two patents pending in the U.S. and $1M USD in pre-seed raised. They have a team of eight (Engineering, Science and Marketing) and are focused on onboarding developers. Begin’s Basic subscription plan is free to use for up to 100,000 devices on the setup while the Standard plans runs on $0.01 per device every month. Advanced plans are available at negotiated discounts depending on volume and use.
Begin has identified that enhancing applications with AI capabilities for small and medium- sized businesses (SMBs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is challenging. A good product turns into a great product when the service is tailor-made for the user. And to get quality AI results - a company server with an AI engine should be built by AI professionals, training AI models based on the users’ data generated and performance. Begin delivers an even bigger benefit from the privacy provided in their models to enable cross-app experiences for their users. Their technology allows businesses to collaborate without sharing data, allowing for enhanced experiences in sectors like retail, where consumer insights across retailers can improve consumer loyalty.
Begin provides an engine that calculates fractions of the AI target model in the customers’ target devices themselves, without compromising their data privacy, training a central model to serve the end-user. All the trained AI models are aggregated in a “network of knowledge” with smart indexing that can serve different clients with different needs and different contexts.
This kind of interaction saves the client the time and knowledge required to handle the data- related processes from aggregating, processing, optimizing and up to training the model and maintaining the AI engine and server. Begin has seen early interest from organizations ranging from Government agencies to Autonomous vehicle institutions to Mobile app startups.
“There is a low application rate of Artificial Intelligence in mobile applications with only 1% of 14 million applications offering users AI experiences. That’s why we see a huge
opportunity,” comments Rima Al Shikh CEO, Begin. “Sandpiper understood our vision and appreciated our market dynamics from the first meeting. The questions they asked were insightful and the General Partners at Sandpiper immediately started showing support and creating value. I am excited about this partnership.”
“The technology is cutting edge. Personalization is the future of human experience and Begin makes it accessible. This extraordinary vision is why we have added them to our portfolio,” explains Cathy Bennett, Founder and Managing Partner, Sandpiper Ventures.
- Edge computing and federated learning is an advanced, specialized field in machine learning. A select few companies, such as Google and Apple rely on it; however, this technology isn’t yet accessible to the public at scale. Begin aims to fix that with two pending patents and more in our active decentralized computing research work to bring machine learning to every consumer device.
- Begin is able to provide its proprietary federated learning technology to mobile app developers.
- Begin’s business structure is built on a self-service model packed with iOS, Android and Python solutions.
- Begin is issued as a proprietary software accessible to customers through subscription services as well as commercial options, depending on needs.
- Begin’s success strategy is to disrupt competition through its simplistic and more appealing processes. Begin also focuses on driving awareness about the possibility of creating AI enabled mobile apps without the need for machine learning codes, thereby increasing the potential ease of adoption for the AI innovation.
- According to findings, there are a total of 26.4 million mobile app developers across the world, with 23.6 million focused on Android applications and 2.8 million being sole iOS developers. Of this entire figure, 32.9% are based in Asia, while 29.7% and 29.4% are in Europe and North America respectively.
- For a sales strategy, Begin seeks to attract Product Managers and developers interested in AI but lack ML experience or want to advance their ML strategies with less setup, allowing them to launch user centric experiences within short periods.
- According to Smart HQ, 72% of consumers say that they only engage with personalized content.
Sandpiper Ventures and Women in Venture Capital
- Only 15% of partners in venture capital funds are female (less in Atlantic Canada).
- Only 2% of angel investors in Canada are female and female founders receive only 3% of VC dollars. Women of colour receive just 0.2% of funding, and there are no stats available for Indigenous women, LGBTQ women and/or women with disabilities, likely because the numbers are so small.
- Female entrepreneurs receive $0.8M CAD while male counterparts receive $2.1M CAD.
- Female-owned start-ups generated $0.78 revenue/$ invested, compared to male-only start-ups who generated $0.31 revenue/$ invested (Boston Consulting Group).
- Female-founded companies perform 63% better than all-male founded companies (First Round Capital).
- Women-led teams generate a 35% higher ROI than all-male teams (The Ewing Marian Kauffman Foundation).
About Begin AI
Begin.ai offers its customers a lightweight, fast and scalable software development kit (SDK) to implement advanced machine learning experiences with little to no setup. They have decentralized the machine learning process and made it possible for businesses to personalize their consumers’ experience without compromising data privacy and without server setups.
Rima Al Shikh, CEO
An experienced technology and AI consultant, Rima has built open-source federated learning for OpenMind and Facebook AI. She has previous experiences launching successful tech and talent sourcing startups with a global reach. Rima has delivered AI solutions for top clientele including Fortune500 companies ranging from Nestle, Tesla, to Luftansa, among others.
About Sandpiper Ventures
Sandpiper Ventures (www.sandpiper.vc) is a seed stage venture capital fund committed to investing in women and women’s innovation as a proactive and profitable business decision. Sandpiper’s management team and active advisors are proven business leaders with deep industry experience and network access, providing access to unique deal-flow and the tools and networks to support portfolio companies to reach massive proportions. To learn more, visit Sandpiper.vc and follow @Sandpiper_VC on Twitter and Instagram find us on https://www.linkedin.com/company/sandpiperventures.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact: Tara Wickwire, Sandpiper Ventures
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