TechInAfrica — Samasource, an AI training data provider, has secured a $14.8-million Series A funding round led by Ridge Ventures.
The company, which is headquartered in San Fransisco, provides Fortune 100 companies with the inputs they need for machine learning development in fields including autonomous transportation, e-commerce, and communications and media. It operates with a global workforce of data specialists with the majority of them are located in East Africa.
Besides San Francisco, New York, and the Hague, Samasource also has offices and teams in Kenya and Uganda. According to CEO and founder Leila Janah, the company has 2,900 global staff and is the largest AI and data annotation employer in East Africa.
As part of its Series A round, Samasource targets to upgrade the features of its platform. The company also opened an AI Development Center in Montreal, Canada and expanded its digital delivery center in Kampala, Uganda to serve its corporate client base.
Janah explained, “Typically we’re working with very large companies for whom AI is a key part of their business strategy. So, therefore, they have to be really careful about…bias in the algorithms or bad data.”
Samasource works through a discovery phase with customers, to determine the problems they are trying to solve and their sources of input data, and customizes an approach to providing what they need.
Referring to the company’s SamaHub training data platform, Jannah said, “In some cases, we might refine elements of our software…then we go into deployment and…annotation work.”
The company’s clients include Google, Continental, Walmart, and Ford, among others. The company generates its main revenue through its machine learning data annotation and validation services.
Founded by Janah in 2008, Samasource was originally a nonprofit. “I saw huge opportunity for tapping into the incredible depth of…talent in East Africa in the tech world,” she said.
It then changed its former status into for-profit status in 2019. Samasource made the previous nonprofit organization a shareholder.