Celebrating $10 Million in Series A Funding

Birago Jones

Pienso announces an exciting $10 million Series A funding to bring the power customizing LLMs to no-code enterprise users.

We founded Pienso in 2016 because we firmly believe that subject matter experts, not just engineers and developers, should be involved in building AI capabilities. No one model can do everything for everyone. A model optimized to summarize medical research documents is not going to be the best application to analyze customer support interactions. That’s why we need to make it easier for people to train AI tools for different needs. To deploy AI effectively across different industries, we need to expand who has access to building these tools, and we need to do it cost-effectively and securely.

To help make this a reality, I am excited to share that Pienso has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by new investor Latimer Ventures, with participation from Gideon Capital, SRI, returning investors Uncork and Good Growth Capital, and Nigel Toon, Founder and CEO of GraphCore. We’ll use this capital to grow our team and continue to shift the way companies approach AI development.

The idea for Pienso came from my time as a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, where my co-founder Karthik and I were building algorithms to make it easier for social media platforms to detect bullying content online. We couldn’t identify slang because we were unfamiliar with it, and needed experts to help train our models to identify it. We realized that teenagers would be the best people to help us, but they aren’t engineers, so we had to build the infrastructure to make it easy for them to provide the input we were missing. That was our “Aha!” moment. We could generalize this technology and shift the way people think about building AI capabilities.

That research eventually led to Pienso, which offers a self-serve platform that makes it possible for anyone to train an AI model without having to write any code. Users can wrangle Large Language Models (LLMs) on their own data, and we make it easier to rapidly and accurately annotate massive volumes of text, which can then be used to train algorithms. Plus, the platform is interoperable across all major LLM providers and can be deployed in the cloud or on-premise. Pienso is built so companies can deliver precise insights with AI, all while maintaining data sovereignty and avoiding the need to share data with third parties.

Imagine a doctor being able to harness AI models on clinical notes or a misinformation specialist who can parse through thousands of documents. The reality is that these experts know far more about their subjects than a generalized engineer, and the only way to have accurate models is for them to be able to train the data themselves. Pienso has built the tools to do this training in hours instead of months. Mere availability of APIs that give access to LLMs cannot make them consumable. To ensure reliability, consistency and safety, we have to make this technology available through interactive and delightful interfaces that empower users who don’t have a technical background.

Says Luke Cooper, Founding General Partner of Latimer Ventures: “We constantly hear about the need to democratize AI, but what makes Pienso stand out is how they are thinking about the role of a domain expert in this equation. They are empowering those who understand their data best to get the most insights out of it. It’s fostering a future where we’re building smarter AI models for a specific application, by the people who are most familiar with the problems they are trying to solve. To that end, Birago and Karthik are exemplary of the diverse overlooked talent attacking huge problems for the enterprise. We’re excited to embark on this journey with them.”

Since 2016, long before AI made its way to the mainstream, we’ve been fine-tuning our understanding of how to train models, and how to build AI capabilities in a way that keeps humans in the loop. Today, we are lucky to work with organizations like Sky, the largest broadcaster in the UK, and the U.S. government on a range of innovative applications, from understanding customer service calls to monitoring illegal weapons trafficking. And we’re just getting started.

A huge thanks to our investors and customers for being a part of our journey. We’re just scratching the surface when it comes to AI’s potential for real impact, and the Pienso team is excited about the part we’ll play in delivering on its promise.