ERN, the London-headquartered startup that’s planning to use Big Data to enable banks and merchants to create loyalty-based offers for cardholders, has acquired two U.K. companies to bolster the analytics side of its platform.
In a transaction consisting of “undisclosed fees and stock”, the company has purchased Inspired Analytics, which offers analytical consultancy services — specifically to help design and build production analytics solutions — and Elucidata, which also provides consultancy and specialises in “data strategy and high-complexity, regulated data implementations”.
As a result, Jim Jeffrey, Inspired Analytics’ Director of Analytics, will become ERN’s Analytics Director, and James Baldwin, Managing Director of Elucidata, will become Managing Director of ERN’s Analytical Consulting Division. If it smells like an acqui-hire, it probably is an acqui-hire, though a spokesperson for ERN stressed that the acquisitions are for both the tech and the teams of the respective companies.
Meanwhile, ERN is announcing yet another round of seed funding. This time it amounts to a further $1 million, once again from unnamed high-net worth individuals, all of whom have previously helped finance the startup to the tune of $3.6 million. This brings the total raised by the company before it’s shipped a commercial product to $4.6 million. As we’ve noted before, Big Data costs big money, not least when you’re gunning to be a major player in the FinTech/transactional data space. However, my understanding is that ERN is on the cusp of announcing its first commercial customer after trials with a number of “household names”. More on that should follow shortly.
ERN’s analytics platform, dubbed “Looop”, enables banks (or more specifically, card issuers) and participating merchants to boost customer loyalty by creating new products and offers based on the analysis of their card transactions. The idea is that by drilling into the Big Data around a customer’s transactional history — after they’ve opted in, of course — individually-tailored offers can be pushed to their smartphone via the Looop app, in the form of an e-coupon redeemable in-store.
In addition to insights gained through mining customers’ transactional Big Data, the targeting of offers can also be geo-fenced e.g. only push an offer when a customer who has previously bought a dress is within a certain radius of the participating store.
The new management personnel picked up via the two acquisitions being announced today are definitely a good fit for ERN’s mission, and presumably should provide in-roads to exactly the type of B2B customers that the young startup is hoping to sign up.
Inspired Analytics’ Jeffrey is the former Head of Data Innovation at Barclaycard Freedom, where he developed “market basket analysis algorithms” for retailers, and was also a Business Partner within Lloyds Banking Group’s Customer Insight area.
Elucidata’s Baldwin also has ties with Barlaycard as former Head of B2B Targeting where he developed the analytics platform for the bank’s cardholder offers programme.