Austin artificial intelligence startup scores millions to grow

CognitiveScale will use the money to ramp up sales, marketing and engineering

Posted August 2nd, 2016

Austin startup CognitiveScale has raised $21.8 million to ramp up sales and marketing of its artificial intelligence technology.

The company, founded by members of the IBM Watson team, received the funding from Norwest Venture Partners and Intel Capital. It has raised a total of $32 million since inception.

CognitiveScale has created a cloud platform that can mine huge databases and use natural language to present data in an easy to understand format. The platform can be plugged into a company's website and extracts insights from the company's existing data.

The company targets healthcare, retail and financial services industries. It currently has 15 customers including Dell Children's Medical Center, Macy's, Nestle and Barclays. 

In February, CognitiveScale and the MD Anderson signed a multi-year partnership to apply cognitive computing to healthcare decision-making, enhance the patient experience and improve employee productivity.

"Patients are going through a journey, and imagine them having a system that gives them insights and advice around their chronic diseases," said  co-founder and CEO Akshay Sabhikhi.

For online retailers, CognitiveScale technology "helps them understand everything about the consumer and customizes the information for them. The site starts to look like your own pop-up store," he said.

Sabhikhi graduated from University of Texas with degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering and joined Trilogy, where he spent seven years in product management roles.

Following Trilogy, he held positions at other software companies, including Webify, which was acquired by IBM in 2006. The acquisition led to an eight-year stint at IBM. Three years ago, he launched CognitiveScale.

The company will use the funding to expand sales, product management and engineering teams. 

CognitiveScale has about 100 employees, 70 of them in Austin, with the remaining workers in India and the United Kingdom.