Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Meeshkan raises €370K for Slack bots programmed to train machine learning models

Finnish start-up Meeshkan has raised €370,000 in pre-seed funding to continue developing its “ChatOps” product for machine learning developers, TechCrunch reported.

Earlier this month, Meeshkan won the Slush 100 start-up competition in Helsinki, Finland. The company uses Slack bots to help engineers monitoring and training machine learning (ML) models without leaving the team chat app.

Talking to TechCrunch, Meeshkan founder Mike Solomon highlighted that training ML models is currently done through command line interfaces and web dashboards, which is not ideal for teams to work on collaboratively.

Because teams usually need to communicate about machine learning model training and make swift decisions about them, the current command line or web dashboards systems are not particularly efficient in this regard.

“My generation writes less and less code,” Solomon said, “but we are iterating on it faster and faster with incremental changes. In machine learning, this could be a small tweak in the learning rate of a model. In unit testing, this could be covering the corner case of an API that returns null values in certain circumstances.”

Solomon explained that developers in these scenarios are dealing with externalities, like data or a third-party API, and trying to build fast on top of them.

“A world-class IDE (integrated development environment), while it helps with lots of problems, does not provide much value for these small tweaks”, he added,  “We’ve found that what developers need is a frictionless environment to make the tweak/test/learn loop turn as fast as possible”.

To fix the issue, Solomon said that Meeshkan aims at creating a bot on Slack that helps teams monitor and tweak the training of their ML models in real-time. “For ML engineers, we found that they spent hours on Slack discussing what to do with their models but had to resort to arcane and byzantine hacks to apply, document and archive these changes,” he said.

“We made a simple bot where teams can turn their discussions on Slack about things like changing a learning rate or a batch size into action, right from Slack,” Solomon explained, “From this simple idea, the floodgates opened. Developers really quickly let us know what they wanted to control from Slack, some of which is trivial to implement, some of which is profoundly difficult and leads us to uncharted engineering territory”.

Meeshkan’s pre-seed backers include Risto Siilasmaa and Kim Groop from First Fellow Partners, Finnish angel Ali Omar, Christian Jantzen’s Futuristic.vc, and Neil Murray’s The Nordic Web Ventures.

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