Portkey.ai Raises $3 Million To Help Clients Build With Generative AI

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Portkey founders Ayush Garg and Rohit Agarwal

Portkey.ai

The emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI) has seen businesses worldwide scramble to build tools that put the technology to use. But California-based Portkey.ai, which is today announcing the successful completion of a $3 million funding round, believes there will be a huge bottleneck unless these businesses get professional support.

“This technology is really magical and the breadth and depth of use cases is amazing,” says Rohit Agarwal, who co-founded the company with Ayush Garh. “But many people are finding that while it’s pretty easy to build a quick proof of concept that uses a large language model (LLM), building and managing a robust application you can put into production requires a great deal of time and resource.”

Portkey therefore seeks to resolve this issue. Using its platform, clients can link directly to LLM providers such as OpenAI and Anthropic, and automate much of the work involved with developing apps that use generative AI. The goal is to enable clients to develop more apps with greater complexity and to do so at greater speed.

The company is effectively targeting two types of client. First, many software developers are determined to integrate LLM-powered tools into their products, so Portkey will help to facilitate that. In addition, in medium-sized and large enterprises, IT departments are rapidly being overwhelmed by requests from across the business for generative AI tools for specific use cases; again Portkey thinks it is well-placed to help.

Agarwal believes the appeal of Portkey will be the platform’s utility at different stages of the software lifecycle. It can connect users to multiple LLM providers, support experimentation and innovation, and provide security and compliance solutions once apps are up and running. A suite of monitoring tools will also improve transparency, enabling clients to track who is using their apps and how effectively.

It’s a competitive marketplace, with the hype around generative AI naturally attracting a growing number of entrepreneurs and start-ups. But Agarwal and Garg point to their track record in the space – Portkey was launched earlier this year off the back of the founders’ experience working on LLM products for much of the past three years.

Moreover, the opportunity for specialists that can help businesses to navigate through the explosion of interest in generative AI to identify and build genuinely useful tools is a huge one. The latest research from the consultant McKinsey estimates that generative AI could add lead to productivity improvements worth between $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually across more than 60 use cases. But “a full realisation of the technology’s benefits will take time, and leaders in business and society still have considerable challenges to address”, the consultant warns.

To this point, Agarwal compares today’s IT market landscape to the boom in cloud computing that began in around 2010. That saw a huge expansion of the “DevOps” sector, with specialists working to accelerate the software development lifecycle as demand for cloud-based software tools mushroomed. “I think what we’re going to see now is the emergence of “LLMops” specialists,” he says.

Kartik Mandaville, CEO of human resources technology company Springworks – an early Portkey user – thinks that’s a fair analogy. The business is building an AI-driven help desk for employees known as Albus. “While developing Albus, we were handling more than 10,000 questions daily,” he recalls. “The challenges of managing costs, latency, and rate-limiting on OpenAI were becoming overwhelming; it was then that Portkey intervened, providing invaluable support through its analytics and semantic caching solutions.”

Investors in the company are also excited. Today’s seed round is led by Lightspeed, with participation from a number of angel investors including prominent figures from businesses including AWS, OpenAI, Cloudflare, Postman, and Asana. “Portkey can supercharge teams developing, deploying and managing LLM-based applications and co-pilots for businesses and consumers,” he says.

The challenge will be to balance product development with commercial outreach in this fast-developing market. The business faces direct competition from rivals in the space such as the British start-up Arize, as well as from DevOps companies now pivoting into this type of work.

The company’s $3 million seed funding round will support further research and development work as Portkey seeks to scale up, with Agarwal also focusing on how to create a community of users to support the product. “Our goal is to integrate with existing systems really well to allow companies to use their existing infrastructure alongside Portkey,” he says. “This would also make adoption a lot faster.”

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