AI

Credal aims to connect company data to LLMs ‘securely’

Comment

Data prep picture with data coming in from many different sources and coming out the other side as charts and applications.
Image Credits: miakievy / Getty Images

Credal.ai, a Y Combinator-backed startup that gives enterprises a way to connect their internal data to text-generating, cloud-hosted AI models, has raised $4.8 million in a seed round led by Spark Capital.

Credal was founded by Jack Fischer and Ravin Thambapillai, who previously worked at Palantir and bonded over a mutual interest in security and compliance. Ravin, a former Google employee, taught himself to code after studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford.

“We realized that, with our backgrounds in enterprise data security and AI from Palantir, we were in a unique position from which to build an AI data platform that enterprises could actually trust,” Fischer told TechCrunch in an email interview.

Fischer and Thambapillai initially set out to build what they describe as a “decision-making assistant” for enterprises that’d use large language models (LLMs) — models along the lines of ChatGPT — to read documents and give advice on strategic, C Suite-level decisions. But the project eventually morphed into something broader: a tool to connect data from internal data sources to outside LLMs.

As the platform exists today, Credal can be used to build general knowledge or domain-specific, AI-powered chatbots for a range of use cases. For example, a company could tap Credal to create a bot that answers security questions about software that the company licenses, drawing on the latest documentation.

Credal doesn’t serve LLMs itself. Rather, it sits between users submitting prompts (e.g. “What’s the latest version of this software?”) and an API from a third-party LLM provider like OpenAI or Anthropic, acting as a “co-pilot” that can be deployed in existing apps like Slack.

Credal attempts to automatically direct prompts to the “most appropriate” LLM if a company’s using more than one, based on factors like the sensitivity of the data being submitted, cost, company policy and a model’s technical capabilities. In some cases, it employs more than one LLM to accomplish a task — for instance, using Anthropic’s Claude and GPT-4 to structure company documents.

Plenty of platforms offer ways to connect company data to LLMs — see Unstructured, Deasie and LlamaIndex. And OpenAI’s expanding its built-in plug-in framework. But Credal’s unique spin on this is a strong emphasis on compliance and security — at least the way Fischer tells it.

Credal attempts to automatically redact, anonymize and otherwise warn when sensitive data is about to be sent off-network, say to an LLM hosted on a public cloud. And it provides logs that show what data’s been shared with which LLMs.

Data sent to Credal is retained by default and kept for 30 days after accounts expire — which might give some companies pause. But admins can change this and choose to wipe data at any time, Fischer emphasizes.

Fischer also claims that Credal is one of the few vendors of its kind to be registered under the Data Privacy Framework, the recent U.S.-EU agreement that governs the transfer of personal data between the two countries. That’s enabled it to win contracts with publicly traded, regulated European enterprises like Wise, Fischer says.

“IT departments at enterprises want visibility, and control, over how AI is being used within their organization,” he added. “Credal gives them [this transparency] in a standard format across multiple LLM providers, providing fine-grained data controls over who can access which models, what data can be used by each user and for what purposes … Unlike other ‘AI on your data’ systems, Credal automatically mirrors the permissions of the source systems it connects to, so when a user asks a question, the AI responds from only company documents that are both relevant and accessible to that user.”

Since launching in April, Fischer claims that Credal has handled over a quarter of a million LLM calls and ingested around 100,000 corporate documents. The company has 11 customers currently, several of which have signed “six-figure” contracts, according to Fischer.

With the capital from the seed round, Credal plans to expand its headcount (which stands at five employees at present) and “expand the product to cover more data sources and perform more sophisticated data retrieval,” Fischer says.

“The AI industry at the moment is suffering a relative imbalance between the huge enthusiasm and the as-yet still relatively small number of companies using LLMs to create real-world value,” Fischer said. “Credal is solving that by embedding deeply with a small number of amazing enterprises and actually solving their problems end-to-end.”

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’