The artificial intelligence (AI) sector took off in the recent past, especially in the last few years. The companies working in the sector are in the forefront of receiving fundings despite the economic slowdown across the globe.
Toronto-based artificial intelligence company Tech Spark AI made headlines on Wednesday with the announcement of a successful $1.4 Million pre-seed funding. The primary objective behind this funding is to further develop their groundbreaking generative AI platform called Spark Plug.
Leading the investment was TD Bank, joined by notable contributors including Salesforce, the Canadian government, and NBA Canada.
Founded by Tamar Huggins eight years ago, Tech Spark AI initially focused on developing inclusive school curricula tailored for Black and Brown students across North America. This commitment to educational equity laid the foundation for the evolution of Spark Plug, a new generative AI platform aimed at providing a more personalized learning experience.
Collaborating with her 13-year-old daughter, Talia Grant, Huggins set out to create Spark Plug as a Black-owned alternative to existing AI search platforms, particularly highlighting distinctions from mainstream platforms like ChatGPT.
The platform has already established partnerships with educational institutions in both the U.S. and Canada, with a specific emphasis on schools situated in underserved Black and Brown communities.
The initial iteration of Spark Plug focuses on translating classic literature texts into modern language, targeting Gen Z as its primary audience. Notably, the translation adapts standard text into African American Vernacular English (AAVE), a dialect rooted in the Black American community and widely utilized by Gen Z on online platforms.
Huggins noted that her daughter, representing Gen Z, played a pivotal role in training Spark Plug’s language model. Additionally, contributions from authors associated with the Harlem Renaissance and activists from the Civil Rights Movement enriched the platform’s language capabilities.
Despite its primary focus on students, Spark Plug is accessible to a broader audience as a web application, functioning similarly to ChatGPT. The overarching goal is to position Spark Plug as a trailblazer in the realm of inclusive generative AI.
The partnership with TD Bank, Salesforce, Canada’s government, and NBA Canada not only underscores the significance of Tech Spark AI’s vision but also highlights the growing interest and support from key players in various industries.
As Spark Plug continues to evolve, its commitment to inclusivity and personalized learning experiences could potentially reshape the landscape of AI applications in education and beyond.
Raising funds posed a considerable challenge. Huggins conceived the idea in 2019 and commenced product development during her pregnancy in 2020. Following the tragic death of George Floyd, numerous investors expressed interest in supporting Black founders, particularly in the edtech sector.
However, like many Black founders before her, Huggins encountered disappointments as most of these expressed intentions did not materialize. The tide turned when Spark Plug secured an investment from TD Bank in the latter part of the previous year. This marked a turning point as other investors, witnessing TD Bank’s involvement, eagerly sought ways to join the funding round.