Instabase lands $45M investment to help companies automate document processing

Instabase, a startup providing an apps platform that can be used to understand and analyze “unstructured” data, today announced that it raised $45 million in a Series C round led by Tribe Capital, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), New Enterprise Associates and Spark Capital.

The round values Instabase at $2 billion — double its previous valuation — and comes as the company looks to increase its investment in generative AI.

“At Instabase, we’ve built a platform that’s trusted by some of the most demanding global enterprises in some of the most highly regulated industries,” Anant Bhardwaj told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Instabase is a platform that enables organizations to apply the latest AI innovations to understand their unstructured data and build applications.”

Bhardwaj founded Instabase in 2015 while working on his PhD at MIT. The inspiration came from the gap he saw in the market for a platform where enterprise apps and data could be quickly built and deployed, he says.

At a high level, Instabase offers tools to help with content understanding. The platform processes documents and data companies can use for their operations, querying large corpora of files — e.g. academic papers, legal paperwork, financial data, etc. — at once.

Beyond this, Instabase delivers tools companies can use to deploy workflows for analyzing similar types of documents. For example, using Instabase, a customer could build an app to automate things like income and identify verification processes, invoice processing and receipt verification.

Companies can alternatively opt for pre-built apps from Instabase’s marketplace. There are apps for verifying a passport or driver’s license, cross-checking a person’s income, prefilling tax forms and more.

“Instabase continually identifies and evaluates emerging AI models and technologies for content understanding,” Bhardwaj said. “With the innovation in this space and multiple players entering the [generative AI] race, it will be critical for customers to leverage modular technologies that can quickly take advantage of the latest innovation.”

San Francisco-based Instabase, which has a workforce of close to 350 people, competes with both startups and incumbents like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Azure, all three of which offer cloud-based, AI-powered document processing and workflow automation tooling. Bhardwaj, for his part, asserts that Instabase’s advantage is its ability to minimize the need for time-intensive — and often costly and labor-intensive — data science work.

For example, Bhardwaj says, companies using Instabase’s platform don’t have to fine-tune or train an AI model themselves to automate certain kinds of workflows or build apps. And they don’t have to annotate documents to get a model to learn to extract the sorts of data they might want.

One might argue that many of Instabase’s rivals are on a par, there. But that hasn’t prevented Instabase from attracting paying customers. Bhardwaj claims that four out of the top five U.S. banks use Instabase, as well as firms in the financial, insurance and consumer packaged goods industries.

Martin Casado, a general partner at a16z, had this to say via email:

“The market is going through a massive transformation and I believe companies that can build deeply integrated applied AI solutions will win. Instabase has consistently applied the latest innovation in AI to very difficult enterprise content understanding problems. We’re excited to continue to partner with Instabase as they take this technology and make it accessible to all segments of the market.”

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