Every day we seem to hear another news story about some government entity exploring how to regulate AI. Just last week, the EU finalized a new set of rules, but they are far from alone, as other countries look to control the growth of the technology. With a broad set of rules looming, it represents an opportunity for startups.
Today, Citrusx, an early-stage startup out of Israel, emerged with a $4.5 million seed investment to build a software service to help companies stay in compliance, whether with internal company rules or broader government regulations.
“The need for AI is tremendous, and companies put a lot of effort into it, but there is a big bottleneck in taking those models to production,” company co-founder and CEO Noa Srebrnik said. Sometimes it can take six to nine months to take a model to production and become a real service and product, and she wanted to build a product to speed that up.
“So in order to really work properly with those AI models, as we worked with the regular programming, we needed a product that helped us to make sure the models are working properly and to make sure that we can trust and be accountable to those models in order to take them to production,” she said.
That means ensuring they are still relevant with updated data and that the model creators can explain to internal stakeholders and to regulators how the model works and that people can trust the results.
Srebrnik started the company after running compliance at the Bank of Israel, and seeing a need across business for a tool that can ensure a model is in compliance with regulations. With the growing popularity of generative AI, that need has only become more pronounced. That means when new approaches like ChatGPT come along, the tool is flexible enough to adapt to these changes. “We decided to create Citrusx in a very agnostic way so that we can really compare different models without the need to change the technique for each and every scenario,” she said.
Srebrnik launched the company in 2021 with CTO Gilad Manor. Today, it has a dozen employees. She believes that it’s important as a woman CEO to show employees, whether women or people from other underrepresented groups, that she cares about building a diverse workforce.
“I’m trying to be in all the calls of all the employees, in order for them to show them there is a woman CEO, that it’s important for me to speak with them and to make them feel comfortable,” she said.
Today’s $4.5 million seed investment was led by Canadian venture firm Awz Ventures, with participation from several angel investors.