The Top 10 AI Startups of 2018

The Top 10 AI Startups of 2018

As the world continues to move into the golden age of AI tech, it's not just big multinational companies that are pioneering innovations in the field. Scrappy AI startups are paving the way with advanced algorithms and the latest deep learning models. As AI makes forays into health care, the automotive industry and the banking sector, these top 10 startups are blazing a innovative trail to the future.

1. SenseTime

In 2014, a group of 11 researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong decided to form a startup of their own to develop a superior type of facial recognition software. SenseTime has since become one of the most successful startups in China. Today, the company's software is in use by doctors, automobile manufacturers, grocery stores, and even the police. In 2017, the company exceeded the $1 billion mark and hit unicorn status. Today, SenseTime is valued at over $4 billion and has received over $1.5 billion from heavyweight investors like Qualcomm and Alibaba.

2. Influential

After years of managing the social media presence of celebrities, Ryan Detert decided to use his marketing experience to move into the world of AI advertising. Using Influential's proprietary platform and IBM Watson's AI, Detert has connected advertisers with social media influencers to promote their brands. I know many small business marketing campaigns have now integrated influencer marketing to help brand growth and exposure. My company, a national online supplier of custom exhibit booths, designed from sustainable LED backlit display systems, now utilizes influencer marketing to help grow our brand, industry authority and quickly increase our online audience reach.

With seed money from digital entertainment company MSMCi and Australia's Capital Zed, Influential has been able to snag high-profile clients like Hyundai, Coca-Cola, and Johnson & Johnson.

3. Zebra Medical Vision

Hailing from the storied halls of Stanford, Harvard and MIT, the three co-founders of Zebra Medical Vision decided to use their business and tech expertise to apply AI solutions to healthcare. The company's custom technology uses AI to analyze millions of medical imaging scans, helping medical providers quickly and accurately diagnose common diseases. Some of the world's most prestigious institutions use Zebra's program, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Oxford University. The startup recently bagged $30 million in investments from Khosla Ventures and Israeli VC firm aMoon Fund.

4. Cylance

Ryan Permeh and Stuart McClure invade computer systems for a living, or at least their company's AI software does. The two men, former executives at McAfee, launched Cylance in 2012 to help companies protect their networks and keep business data safe from malicious attacks. With Cylance's AI systems, these intrusions can be prevented rather than merely detected and blocked. The company has grown 90% since 2017 and recently completed a Series E funding round of $120 million.

5. Dataminr

While some entrepreneurs are using AI to create autonomous vehicles or identify faces, Dataminr aims to provide up-to-the-minute news updates to its clients. Dataminr is often on the forefront of breaking news as it scans Twitter for relevant information. Multiple newsrooms and financial institutions use the company's information-parsing software to stay ahead of the news curve. Dataminr has grown exponentially in recent years thanks to its early detection of significant events like train accidents and school shootings. In March 2018, they opened a new office in Seattle and received a massive $221.1 million investment to beef up their data analysis.

6. Leanplum

It was 2012, and Andrew First and Momchil Kyurkchiev had cushy jobs as Google software engineers. However, they decided to take the knowledge they gained from working on YouTube and Google ads and start their own predictive analytics company. Leanplum quickly became the go-to destination for AI-powered mobile marketing. The company soon had offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. They have attracted major investors like Canaan Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Wells Fargo's Norwest Venture Partners. Leanplun recently acquired Connecto, a Bulgarian chat bot company, and sealed a $5 million Series D funding round.  

7. Directly

What if AI could complete customer service, and knowledgeable humans only had to step in when needed? In 2011, a trio of American and Canadian entrepreneurs decided to formulate a startup around this idea. Their AI platform has attracted big-name clients like LinkedIn, Microsoft and Samsung. Directly has amassed more than $35 million from investors like Silicon Valley Bank and True Ventures. In April 2018, Directly completed a $20 million funding round from Direct Capital.  

8. Tessian

The three-man team behind British startup Tessian first met while studying engineering at Imperial College London. After working for various companies, they decided to start their firm to help protect businesses from straying e-mails. The company's technology uses machine learning to quickly verify that outgoing e-mails are being sent to the intended recipients, preventing sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Tessian has received substantial investment from venture capital firms like Accel and Walking Ventures. They recently closed a $13 million Series A funding round, which they will use to expand their offerings.

9. WorkFusion

When Andrew Volkov and Max Yankelevich founded WorkFusion in 2010, their goal was to develop AI software that would complete repetitive tasks for companies and save money by reducing the workload for employees. With WorkFusion's Smart Process Automation, banks and healthcare companies can automatically complete routine data entry tasks, saving time and labor. After an initial investment from New York-based RTP Ventures, WorkFusion began to gain momentum. Today, companies like Citi and the Bank of America use WorkFusion's AI software. Hawk Equity and Declaration Partners recently led a $50 million Series E round for WorkFusion.    

10. Yitu

As a pioneer of AI in China, this Shanghai-based startup has its fingers in a multitude of pies. Initially, the company focused on facial recognition software for security and law enforcement. However, its stable of offerings has grown to include AI-powered medical imaging parsing, traffic mapping, and employment services. The company has mainly received investment from large Chinese firms, but recently it attracted New York's GC Capital, who joined in on a $200 million funding round in June.

As AI technology explodes worldwide, these startups are laser-focused on using AI technology to improve health, business, and safety. From cutting-edge facial recognition systems to improved medical research, these companies are methodically deploying AI to enhance daily life.

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