Making It Work: AI data compliance start-up lands €1.3m funding boost

Altada uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help clients to manage due diligence and regulatory compliance

Niamh Parker and Allan Beechinor, co-founders of Altada Picture: John Allen

Altada has closed a €1.3 million investment round, bringing total funding in the Cork-based AI start-up to €4 million.

The company specialises in data compliance and privacy management technology. It has secured the investment from Enterprise Ireland, the state agency, and Rocktop Partners, an alternative investment manager headquartered in the US.

Rocktop is one of 15 clients using Altada’s technology, Allan Beechinor, the company’s chief executive, said.

Altada uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help clients such as Rocktop, which handle high volumes of information, to manage due diligence and regulatory compliance.

“Rocktop is involved in acquiring large pools of performing or non-performing residential mortgage loans. They would use us to identify collateral deficiencies and compliance issues within that portfolio,” Beechinor said.

“Our work with clients like them is heavily focused on due diligence. When they’re buying high-value portfolios, they would use our technology to conduct intricate due diligence processes on each loan book.”

Beechinor said Altada would enter “full commercial mode” in 2020.

“We plan to use our new funding for go-to-market activities, to recruit high-profile commercial people and scale up the platform,” he said.

Altada employs 29 people in Cork and Dublin and has nine contractors on its books.

“We’re expanding. We’ve hired four data scientists in the last month and we plan to take on more,” Beechinor said.

“We’ve recruited JT Lewis as our new strategy and growth officer. Before this, JT was regional sales director with Cleafy in Germany. He has also worked for EMC.”

Target markets

Beechinor established Altada in 2017 with his wife, the company’s co-founder Niamh Parker.

“We started out looking at privacy by design and how we could help companies to deal with incoming privacy regulations, such as GDPR,” he said.

“I was creating different models and methods for ingestion data sets and applying intelligence to that.

“I’d been dealing with AI and machine learning for well over 15 years. I’ve developed lots of technology over that time and I took that into Altada.”

Altada’s main focus in its first two years of operation was research and development, Beechinor said.

“We’ve invested probably about 40 man years in building our technologies. We’ve had ten data scientists working full-time on our platforms since we started,” he said.

“We started out helping enterprise companies to look at how to get value from their unstructured data. Late last year was when we really began focusing specifically on financial services.”

Altada’s main target markets this year will be the US and Britain. “The challenge we have here in Ireland is that we basically have just two potential clients: AIB and Bank of Ireland,” Beechinor said.

“London and New York are both major financial hubs. We’ve taken an incubator office in New York in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland. We’re in the process of opening another US office in Dallas.

“We’ve just onboarded a strategic partner in London, so we will be opening an office there as well.”

Altada signed another strategic partnership earlier this month with Beta Digital, a digital transformation company with offices in Dublin and London.

The move followed the acquisition last year of Spearline Risk and Compliance, which Altada has since rebranded as Beacon AI, a sister company led by Parker specialising in data privacy.

Beechinor, 43, said the experience of running his own company has been challenging, but rewarding.

“I’m a techie by trade. Before we set up Altada, I’d worked for years as a ‘gun for hire’, coming into different companies in CTO roles and building technologies and architectures,” he said.

“Learning to run your own company is different. What I would say to anyone in the same position is: make sure you interview your investors and you know who you’re getting into business with”.