Generative AI for Productivity Startup Dust Raises $5.5M

Enterprise generative AI startup Dust has raised $5.5 million in a seed funding round led by Sequoia. Dust is aiming at boosting productivity in offices using large language models (LLMs) to improve communications between teams and provide a process for creating internal apps for companies using their own data.

Dust Productivity

Dust plans to leverage existing LLMs to build apps for companies rather than set up a foundational model of its own. The French startup plans to use models created by OpenAI, AI21, Cohere, and others for running its apps, starting with a way to collate and organize a company’s internal data to make it easier for an LLM to process. Data pulled from Slack, GitHub, Google Drive, and Notion is arranged into an index using Dust’s technology. Any app using Dust can then parse the information to answer queries or carry out a task. The idea is that any new employee can discover not only how a company does something but see the discussion and reasoning behind it from old Google Docs comments or Slack discussions. The obvious comparison is a ChatGPT-style chatbot trained on a company’s internal data.

“Large Language Models (LLMs) are a disruption that justifies creating a new company to develop a new kind of software. A company built around artificial intelligence, rather than sprinkling it around here and there,” Dust explained in a blog post about the funding. “We’re experimenting with products that revisit what “writing internal memos” should even feel like, now that the company’s latest state is at the fingertips of any of its team members. We’re tinkering with documents that let you know themselves when they’re too stale to be trusted.”

OpenAI engineer Stanislas Polu and former head of product for enterprise voice AI developer Alan Gabriel Hubert launched Dust earlier this year. Polu and Hubert previously co-founded a startup called Totem that was acquired by Stripe in 2015. Dust is part of the growing ecosystem of enterprise-focused generative AI companies, with plenty attracting big investments and acquisition prices. For instance, fellow French startup Mistral raised $113 million, while data storage firm Databricks paid $1.3 billion for generative AI model startup MosaicML. Meanwhile, Salseforce is rolling out generative AI tools to its clients and setting up a $500 million fund to invest in startups doing the same.

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