MITX - Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange


Member Spotlight

Get to know a MITX member! We're featuring NorthOut.

1. In a nutshell, what is your company all about?

NorthOut is product development and strategy studio that enables companies from the Fortune 500 to startups both understand and build cutting-edge products. Specifically, we focus on crafting beautiful experiences from web to mobile powered machine learning & artificial intelligence. No matter the task, we get in the weeds from outlining strategic roadmaps all the way to full-stack development and we have a damn good time doing it!

Most of our partners hire us to buck the typical style of large consulting firms who move slow, are overpriced and are rarely engineering driven. Across our organization you'll find that 90% of the team are engineers, almost all of whom have started or worked in early stage companies -- we bring that agile, fast-paced style to every engagement.

2. How was your company founded and what inspired its creation?

The first generation of NorthOut aimed to help founders better build and market their companies during the earliest days of life. To that end, we'd provide space & invest services and cash into teams building killer technology products. In the first year we launched 10 companies, a few of which have either sold or raised additional funding. This early focus enabled us to expand the team and cement our approach to building.

During this growth, we thought hard about what the future of NorthOut could look like. The entire team focused on ways we could have more impact per day on both our client companies and their users. To that end, we launched Innovation Offense - a program to help medium to large companies tackle their most pressing challenges while crafting internal cultures of innovation. That program has scaled over the last year to a heavy focus on machine learning and creating data-driven companies.

3. What makes your company different than other companies in your marketspace?

By far, the most important differences between NorthOut and the big 5 consulting firms we often compete with are style and approach. Everything from the way we interact with partners to how we create proposals all the way to daily engineering is unique in the consulting space. Staying nimble, engineering heavy and avoiding unnecessary operational bulk enables us to move fast and stay flexible. This leads to quicker test->learn cycles and more efficient experimentation without having to invest millions of dollars upfront.

For enterprises, big consulting firms are who they already are while NorthOut is who they aspire to be.

4. What has been your company's greatest accomplishment in 2014?

Deciding a year ago to go all in on cognitive technology was a pretty big organizational risk. While we knew enterprises were beginning to adopt or at least consider the technology, we had to adjust our entire team to prepare for a new type of sales and build process. We held true to our ethos and turned the tides to add 10 new companies to the ranks who looked to explore the data driven future.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face in the marketplace today??

While every NorthOut partner has unique internal challenges, the most consistent barrier we find across our portfolio is surprisingly simple: Knowing where to start.

Across finance, health and retail rarely do we find resources, excitement or potential to be an issue in machine learning adoption - in reality, it's quite the opposite. Despite earnestly seeking to drive internal innovation in this area, the vast majority of our partners don't yet understand the what, where and how required to get going.

Our Cognitive Discovery program seeks to help companies assess their business to identify cognitive opportunities, create roadmap and organizational understanding before writing a single line of code.

6. Why are you a MITX member?

The Boston technology ecosystem, one of the nation's best, is an incredible community to be a part of. From the youngest companies to the enterprise to innovative research colleges, NorthOut has benefited greatly from our surroundings. As often as possible we try to repay our ecosystem through community work, events and generally supporting Boston technology. MITX as an organization shares many of our own ethos so it was a natural partnership.

The entire NorthOut organization looks forward to continuing to engage with the MITX community.

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