This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.
James Blake is CEO at Hello Soda, a Manchester-based big data analytics company less than two years old. It has recently expanded to open its first US presence following previous expansion to Bangkok.
After months of deliberation here at Hello Soda, we are increasing our global footprint with a new US office in Austin, Texas.
With approximately half of our revenue already generated from US business, the new office will provide feet on the ground for more focused support to both existing and prospective clients and partners in North America.
Choosing the right city
Finding the ideal location for a young software business to base its US operations from was tough, with a number of strong contending states. In the UK you can reasonably travel to any city and back in a day for a meeting, but in the US these meetings require much more travel. The flight time from East Coast to West Coast is almost as much as a flight from London to New York.
We eliminated the West Coast due to the distance and time-difference and proceeded to travel north to south assessing suitability of states. After a tough fight from Chicago and New York City, we eventually decided on Austin.
Hello Soda has taken space in WeWork’s Austin workspace.
Austin was the number one choice for numerous reasons, including the not-so-difficult time difference from GMT (it’s six hours behind for most of the year), the incredible talent pool in the surrounding universities, and the fact it is famous being a major up-and-coming tech hub. Also present in Austin is the annual SXSW festival, a huge 10-day event in March celebrating creativity and technological innovation in the city.
Austin is ranked as the top city for technology job creation and is expected to have almost 12,000 tech jobs added over the next 5 years. With universities on our doorstep it shouldn’t be too difficult to recruit once we are there. However finding talent for the US team whilst still in the UK requires a certain amount of creativity, particularly if you don’t want to go down the agency route.
A 24-hour business
With the help of the existing Manchester and Bangkok offices, the Austin launch next month will turn Hello Soda into a 24-hour business. That means we can provide round-the-clock support to our clients and partners. Having offices in three separate continents enables us to stay in touch with the different markets and understand the differences in their needs.
Since opening the Bangkok office in January we have been able to better understand the needs of the Thai consumer, and in turn, the Thai business and adapt what we offer accordingly. In the US it will be slightly different, given that we already have a strong presence there. We expect to be able to increase our market knowledge as well as travel to events in different states much more easily.
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