Eyeris is a Palo Alto, California-based start-up using deep-learning principles to read human emotions from non-verbal cues, and Modar Alaoui, the company’s founder and CEO, is bullish that his company is onto the next big thing.

“Verbal communication accounts for only 20% of human communication. The rest is non-verbal and we focus on capturing that from facial micro expressions in addition to the entire suite of face analytics, which is age, gender, eye tracking and blinking velocity,” says Mr Alaoui. “This can be used in measuring consumers’ behaviour, so companies can identify additional opportunities for up-sale and customisation.”

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Expanding and lucrative

In 2016, the industry in which Eyeris operates was valued at $3.35bn, according to data from business intelligence platform Market & Market. By 2021, Market & Market forecasts the market will have expanded in value by 104% and Eyeris is eager to get a slice of that lucrative cake.

“There is only a short period of time for every technology to be the global leader, and in our industry that short time is now,” says Mr Alaoui. “Especially given that our product is easily scalable, as emotions are universal and do need cultural adaptation.”

But while Mr Alaoui might think big, when it comes to company headcount it is all about being small. “We actually operate very leanly; we like to think we are a team of 30 people or 40 people, but we [have] actually [hired] just 20 people,” he says.

Can such a small company with global ambitions count on the help of IPAs? Yes, says Mr Alaoui, and in the case of his company IPA assistance has translated into investment decisions.

“Given the enormous potential of the Asian market, this is where we were planning our first expansion. In doing so, we worked with agencies such as the Japan External Trade Organization and other regional entities that helped us by providing free document translation office space and referrals to local lawyers and robotics companies,” he adds.

He says that apart from the headquarters in Palo Alto and a laboratory in nearby San Jose, the company also has business development and technical support offices in Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo.

Accelerating future gains

Despite small gains in terms of job creation, Mr Alaoui says the Asian IPAs he has worked with have been willing to help, betting on his company’s future growth. “They understood that our success is correlated with future growth and want to provide help in order to accelerate it,” he says.

Encouraged by that, and willing to secure itself a first-comer advantages on another market, Mr Alaoui is already eyeing another expansion, this time into Europe. And while he says the company will most likely bet on either the UK or Germany as its new base – and thus far it has opened offices in tier-one cities in the markets it has entered – Eyeris is happy to hear from economic developers from locations other than the biggest cities in Germany or the UK.

“We are absolutely open to consider other locations, as long as economically it makes sense and they have as much reach [as tier-one locations],” says Mr Alaoui.