Graft is building an AI development platform for the masses

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When Graft launched its AI development platform in beta last year, it was looking to build something that put AI within reach of every company, not just the largest ones with tons of engineering resources.

Today, the company announced a $10 million seed investment. While it was at it, the startup announced that it’s inviting companies to request access to the platform as it begins to open up the offering to a larger number of companies in a controlled fashion.

Graft co-founder and CEO Adam Oliner came up with the idea for the company while he was running AI at Slack. Today, he sees how the growing excitement around ChatGPT has brought AI to the forefront of business conversations, but he says that there’s a big difference between playing with ChatGPT and building a production-ready AI application.

“The shiny toys just aren’t built for production, and the established platforms are largely unusable by non-experts. So we see Graft as filling in that gap in the market with a production grade, modern AI platform that’s built for everyone,” Oliner told TechCrunch.

As Oliner sees it, ChatGPT has served to show what’s possible, even if developing AI applications hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier. “While you can abstract away a ton of that complexity using things like large language models, the path to production has not gotten any simpler, and in some ways has gotten more complex,” he said. “These models are complex and not readily explainable. They’re large and unwieldy. There are new questions related to compliance, privacy, AI ethics and so on that weren’t present before.”

To make it easier, the company has introduced a handful of apps to help customers get going quickly without having to build something themselves from scratch. “We’re introducing this notion of apps, which are templatized use cases that you can quickly and easily instantiate into full-blown production use cases based on your data,” he said.

Among their current offerings are visual search or finding customer champions. He says they have tried to make it simple to get started — you just need to create a Graft account, choose one of the pre-defined templates and point to your data. Graft handles the infrastructure to run the application for you.

Today’s $10 million investment was led by Radical Ventures, with participation from GV. The company has now raised a total of $14.5 million, having raised a $4.5 million pre-seed round last year.

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