Amid the surge of interest in AI, some generative AI startups have raised millions of dollars with just a few months of history and tiny teams.
Then there’s Munich-based Aily Labs. The AI-for-enterprise company is today announcing a €19m raise led by Insight Partners — the first time it’s raised outside capital since launching in 2020 — to grow its 200-strong team. Oh, and it’s been profitable since its first year of operating.
What does Aily Labs do?
The startup uses a combination of AI models to create productivity, efficiency and commercial saving products for clients. Cofounder Bianca Anghelina tells Sifted that Aily Labs is currently working with French multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare company Sanofi and other “top pharma companies” as clients.
In Sanofi’s case, Anghelina says that the product has created data-driven insights that have led to the company finding more cost-effective sites for clinical trials, more efficient manufacturing processes and identifying potential supply inventory issues ahead of time. The data used includes internally available data for performance monitoring performance and external data from the wider clinical trial industry.
“It's all about better performance across the value chain. And for pharma, of course, R&D is at the heart of things,” says Anghelina. “But our concept is pretty generic: optimise the key performance indicators across the different business functions.”
Both of Aily Labs’ cofounders worked in pharma before founding the startup and were able to use their network to sign up Sanofi as a founding client.
“We had a customer from the start,” says Anghelina. “That was part of our strategy: build a product, [grow] with our product, which then allowed us to bring in customers super quick and be efficient, and then grow the team.”
What’s the market like?
While Aily Labs has been running for three years, 2023 has seen an explosion of companies raising money to build the “ChatGPT for your business.” Some are using tens of millions of VC dollars to build their own large language models (LLMs) to rival the likes of OpenAI — a strategy that some investors are now starting to question.
Aily Labs differs from these companies in a couple of ways. The first is that it’s not building costly LLMs from scratch.
“There are great open source models coming out now,” says Anghelina.
The second is that it’s less of a generative AI pure play company than many of Europe’s newer entrants to the sector. Aily Labs uses other machine learning approaches — like classification and regression models — for much of its tech stack, which are what power features, like predicting how different business decisions will create different outcomes.
“Our machine learning models do predictions and ‘what if’ real-time simulations. That’s the key business benefit — real-time simulation of scenarios,” Anghelina says. “On top of that, we have GenAI to produce text and stories from those data insights.”
Aily Labs will now be using the fresh funding to bolster its GenAI team, to “accelerate use cases” for clients that deal with a lot of text, and also to generate “competitive intelligence” on rival companies from external sources. This will involve hiring machine learning engineers and researchers, as well as prompt engineers.
It also plans to diversify its client list beyond the pharma companies. Firstly more widely in the life sciences sector, and then corporates “who have a lot of data.”
And, while Aily Labs is now operating in an increasingly crowded field of well-funded players, it’s got an advantage that many startups in GenAI do not: trusted clients, a proven product and a business that’s already in the black.