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"We Got Funded!" Tunisia-Born Clusterlab Secures US$600,000 In A Pre-Seed Funding Round With The Aim To Advance Arabic Artificial Intelligence Tech ClusterLab is on a mission to revolutionize how Arabic content is created and consumed by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to ensure it is more accessible and engaging for users worldwide.

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ClusterLab
The ClusterLab team at Sidi Bou Said, Tunis, Tunisia.

ClusterLab, the Tunisia-born and now UAE-based startup behind the Arabic audiobook summarization app Reedz, has secured US$600,000 in a pre-seed funding round supported by a number of regional investors, including Karim Beguir, co-founder and CEO of Tunisia-founded enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) startup InstaDeep.

The funds will be used to propel ClusterLab's research and development efforts, with a particular focus on advancing their next-generation large language models (LLMs). This will allow the startup to refine user experiences within their AI-powered products like the aforementioned Reedz, a mobile app providing audiobook summaries of the world's best selling books, as well as Elm, an AI-powered learning app.

"Our expertise in technology goes beyond the current wave of LLMs," says Haithem Kchaou, co-founder and CEO of ClusterLab. "We've been pioneers in utilizing natural language processing (NLP) to revolutionize content summarization well before it became mainstream." Here, Kchaou points out that ClusterLab's expertise at developing AI and NLP has been recognized through its collaboration with InstaDeep on a national AI initiative for Tunisia's Ministry of Higher Education, as well as its selection in the Nvidia Inception Program for AI startups.

Commenting on the investment, Kchaou says that the AI funding space "has never been this noisy, and cutting through the noise is crucial." As such, when asked to share his advice for entrepreneurs in this space, he replies, "The first step is demonstrating a solution to a real-world problem, not just deploying AI for the sake of it, and this builds credibility among potential investors and partners. By focusing on a tangible problem and showcasing the team's established capabilities, founders become the signal, and not the noise. That's how they can attract investors seeking impactful AI solutions."

Related: Here's Why Dubai Is Primed To Lead The Global Race In Artificial Intelligence

Kchaou also opines that AI technology is currently undergoing a significant shift towards democratization, aiming to extend its benefits across various regions and cultures, including the MENA region. "There is an ongoing effort to make AI more accessible and beneficial beyond its current primary bases, with an anticipation that the MENA region will progressively bridge the gap," he says. "Our objective is to spearhead this movement, positioning ourselves as leaders in bringing AI's advantages to the forefront of this emerging market.

He adds that foreseeing future developments within the fast-paced AI sector can be quite challenging. "Innovations and predictions emerge on a near-weekly basis, ranging from AI agents communicating with each other, to the advent of personal AI assistants and locally run LLMs," he says. "Despite the rapid advancement and unpredictable nature of AI technologies, one certainty remains: AI will permanently transform traditional industries, disrupting long standing business models."

With this idea in mind, Kchaou's note for AI startups is to always keep a proactive stance in order to avoid being outpaced or disrupted. "Have an open mind, and strategize effectively to build and sustain a competitive moat, ensuring they remain ahead in the race," he says. "Integrating AI into various sectors is not merely about adopting new technologies, but about innovating and adapting to maintain relevance and leadership in a rapidly evolving landscape."

'TREP TALK: ClusterLab co-founder and CEO Haithem Kchaou shares his dos and don'ts for AI startup founders

Do build credibility "Emphasize past successes, partnerships with reputable programs like the NVIDIA Inception program, and involvement in major initiatives like projects with governmental entities."

Do solve a real problem "Articulate a clear real-world problem that an AI solution addresses. Show a genuine market need for what you're building."

Do show differentiation "Clearly explain how your product or service stands out from the competition. Highlight the unique strengths and value proposition."

Don't aim for an excessively high valuation "The AI space is hyped, and a market correction is likely. Investors may be disillusioned by down rounds– keep your feet on the ground with a realistic valuation."

Don't build AI for the sake of AI "Investors see through solutions without a  clear purpose. Focus on how your AI delivers specific value and solves pain points."

Don't overpromise "When pitching to investors, founders tend to promise the moon, and there's a lot of that in the AI space. Demonstrating a pragmatic approach to AI becomes a differentiator. Founders must acknowledge AI's vast potential, while setting realistic timelines and milestones that account for current limitations."

Related: In An Era Of Artificial Intelligence, There's Always Room For Human Intelligence

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