BIG DATA

Fast-growing U.K. big data firm picks Austin for first U.S. office

Hello Soda will service its existing U.S. client base from Austin, and use the office as a platform for expansion.

Posted September 22nd, 2016

Hello Soda -- a fast-growing big data firm based in the United Kingdom -- has chosen Austin for its first U.S. office.

The Austin office will service Hello Soda's existing U.S. client base and provide a platform for future North American expansion, the company said.

"There is substantial appetite for Hello Soda's offering in the U.S., where we've been doing business for some time," said Ben Allott, international strategies director, who will lead the Austin office.

Allott said half of Hello Soda's revenue is already generated in the U.S., and the company is forecasting triple digit growth over the next 18 months.

"We look forward to embarking on this new chapter in Austin which demonstrates our commitment to the U.S. market," he said.

Before choosing Austin, Hello Soda looked at a number of cities, including New York and Chicago. But Austin's talent pool and the University of Texas put it at the top of the list, said company spokeswoman Sharon Flaherty.

"Austin leads the way by far in terms of its friendly atmosphere, as well as its reputation for welcoming and celebrating up-and-coming innovations," she said. "We are also very excited about the direct flight to Heathrow, which means that we are able to easily travel between the U.K. and U.S. offices."

Officials expect the Austin office at 600 Congress Ave. to hire 20 employees over the next year, with plans to expand further by adding positions in data science, development and creative work.

Founded in 2013 in Manchester, Hello Soda offers a data analytics platform that targets finance, insurance, recruitment and gaming industries. The platform, called Profile, lets customers gain insights from data, such as verifying ID, detecting fraud and assessing risk.

Hello Soda also gathers information about potential borrowers using social media, according to a story by the Financial Times.

That involves analyzing structured data such as the number of Facebook friends someone has, and generates predictions from unstructured data like blog posts, tweets and social interactions.

That can help lenders make decisions about creditworthiness as well as a likelihood to commit fraud, employee vetting and insurance claimants' trustworthiness.

“What we can do is help companies understand something about a person as an individual… such as whether they have been promoted, or if they’ve been on holiday. We call it the fabric of life,” co-founder James Blake told U.K news site Prolific North.

The 30-person company, which is based in Manchester, also has an office in Bangkok.

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