Posted on March 17, 2017 by staff

Northern Powerhouse is ‘missing a trick’ with tech


The boss of a fast-growing analytics software company has accused the Northern Powerhouse of “missing a trick” when it comes to tech.

James Blake is the CEO and founder of Manchester-headquartered Hello Soda, which allows clients to gain valuable insights into potential customers from unstructured data including that found on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google.

Its multilingual analytics software PROFILE is increasingly being used to verify ID and detect fraud, assess risk and personalise the user experience by delivering insights that traditional data doesn’t cover, helping brands to engage with consumers on a one-to-one level.

Hello Soda has expanded into India and opened offices in Austin, Texas and Bangkok.

Blake told BusinessCloud he’s a big supporter of the Northern Powerhouse but thinks more could be done.

“I think it’s a great initiative,” he said. “It gives a focus that we did not have in the North.

“We’re missing a trick on tech. I don’t think we do enough on the tech industries. We still focus on the old world industries, as I call them.”

The entrepreneur called on politicians to prioritise transport improvements. “Transportation is key,” he said. “It’s my biggest gripe. I can get to London in two hours but it can take me that long or longer to get to Leeds.”

Hello Soda has 50 global customers, with the US accounting for 40 per cent of their business. Turnover has grown to £3m but Blake predicts overseas trade will see this number swell.

“We’re going to be a £100m business,” he pledged. “That’s the aim.

“Our strategy is international growth. The US will outstrip the UK in a year. Asia may outstrip the US. We see South America as a massive opportunity.

“For us we’re looking at export and international. We cannot be the business we want to be unless we grow internationally.”

Hello Soda more than doubled its workforce in 2016 through that international expansion plan.