Ponicode has raised $3.4 million to develop an artificial intelligence platform that will check the accuracy of code to save developers from a time-consuming task while also increasing the reliability of the application. Breega led the round, which also included investment from Kima and Plug & Play Ventures. The French startup also received a $1.3 million loan from France’s national bank Bpifrance.
With the amount of code used to manage an expanding range of devices growing rapidly, Ponicode believes the quality of that code is suffering and the tedious job of checking it is slowing innovation. If it can cut the time and resources needed to run code checks, Ponicode CEO and cofounder Patrick Joubert believes, it can free up resources for more creative labor.
“We need to shift the way people are coding from focusing on delivering more and more technology to improving the code quality,” Joubert said. “We still see too many bugs or bad code.”
Ponicode is one of many startups using AI in some fashion to tackle the challenges of coding. Kite uses AI to suggest code snippets for developers in real time. DeepCode offers AI-powered code reviews. GitHub is using AI-driven tools to help developers. And tech giants are playing in this field, with Microsoft hatching plans to apply AI to the entire application developer cycle and Facebook creating Transcoder AI to translate code from one language to another.
In Ponicode’s case, the company has a strong pedigree thanks to Joubert. In 2011, the entrepreneur founded Beamap, which consulted on cloud projects and was acquired by Sopra Steria in 2014. He followed that by launching Recast.AI in 2015, a conversational AI platform to enable chatbots that SAP bought in 2018.
Through all of those experiences, he found testing code to be one of the biggest pain points in getting a product launched. That led to the work on what became Ponicode last year.
The platform is continually fed lines of code, which allows it to learn rapidly and improve its accuracy. Ponicode’s service generates tests and then suggests ways to improve or fix code which in turn reduces errors. “It improves product quality, speeds up time-to-market, and helps drive company innovation,” Joubert said.
In May, Ponicode was selected to join Microsoft’s AI Factory program, which is located in the Station F startup campus in Paris. The company currently has 11 employees and hopes to double that number by the end of the year.
Ponicode also plans to use the new money to expand its research and development while accelerating its product development. Joubert also intends to begin targeting the U.S. market later this year.