A Leawood-based artificial intelligence firm on Friday announced plans to create nearly 500 full-time jobs in the region over the next five years — with the backing of the State of Kansas and the boost of a recent $30 million round.
Building a tech company in Kansas City is the furthest thing from an uphill battle, Brian Weaver told Startland News; the city’s diverse industries and skill sets produce a stable economy that makes it the perfect place.
“You’ve got IoT with companies like Garmin; telecommunications and mobility with firms like T-Mobile; business process management with companies like Cerner; creative energy from organizations like Hallmark,” the founder and CEO of Torch.AI listed with excitement. “Kansas City has this tapestry of talent that creates a really stable foundation for a high technology company like Torch to build on.”
Torch.AI is a global artificial intelligence (AI) firm founded in Leawood in 2017. The firm’s platform uses machine learning to enable massively scaled and ultra-high performance data processing.
“We develop enterprise AI and machine learning software that’s really focused on how companies are able to better predict what might happen in the future,” said founder Brian Weber.
Torch.Ai has provided solutions for some of the world’s largest companies, including Microsoft, H&R Block, and General Electric Company.
Click here to learn more about Torch.AI.
Within just the remainder of 2021, Torch.AI is set to hire more than 100 new professionals with an average salary of more than $100,000, the company announced.
Torch.AI’s decision to invest and grow in the Kansas City region ties into a $27 million tax incentive package awarded to the firm by the Kansas Department of Commerce. The state competed with counterparts in Southern California, Washington D.C. and New York City to secure the company’s high-paying tech jobs.
“What we found was that the State of Kansas, and particularly the folks who we worked with, were very creative and excited about developing the business in Kansas City,” Weaver said. “They really wanted to help us expand and create more jobs here. So the intent of this incentive package is for us to create high paying technology jobs in the state.”
Friday’s announcement comes after Torch.AI’s $30 million Series A funding round in March, led by San Francisco-based WestCap Group, to accelerate the firm’s overall growth strategy and its Nexus AI platform.
“We not only have a need for software engineers — who are a significant portion of the talent that will be recruited — but also program managers, product managers, sales professionals and the full gamut of technologists,” Weaver explained. “We’re very selective, but we’re aggressively hiring right now.”
As part of its commitment to Kansas, Torch.AI is also making a significant capital investment in collaborative workspaces for its employees including plans to relocate key talent to Kansas City.
The announcement is met with enthusiasm from government officials like Kansas Lt. Gov. and Commerce Secretary David Toland and Gov. Laura Kelly.
“Kansas is a great place for businesses to prosper with our strong public schools, investments in roads and bridges and economic development tools; I can think of no better place for Torch.AI to grow,” Kelly said in a press release. “They will bring sophisticated, high-wage tech jobs, and their decision to locate this expansion in our state enhances our pedigree as a destination for forward-thinking tech experts.”
Prospective hires range from recent graduates to former service members, he said — noting that Torch.AI is an active member in the “Hiring Our Heroes” fellowship program.
“I am the son of an Army intelligence officer, so I have a really special affinity for those who are serving and veterans,” Weaver shared. “A lot of our company is dedicated to the national security mission. We have several customers that are federal agencies, combatant commands and in the defense industry.”
Click here to check out the open career opportunities with Torch.AI.
As part of its tax incentive package, Torch.AI aims to establish a training program for current staff, users of the platform and those interested throughout the Kansas City community.
“As part of our growth plan, we will be starting a plan later this year to establish a Torch university,” Weaver said. “… We have this opportunity, and a bit of a duty I’d say, to educate the community. There are a lot of companies in Kansas City that could learn from us, so we would like to try and be a catalyst for high technology in this region.”
With rapid growth underway, Torch.AI is in the works of developing a research and technology center in Kansas City, Weaver noted.
“It is our intention over the next couple of months to either acquire a facility that could be developed into a campus or to acquire land to be developed into a campus,” he said. “Right now we’re expanding our current office space, pretty dramatically; we’re doubling the footprint here in Kansas City to accommodate this near-term growth.”
Torch.AI plans to lean into pandemic shifts, Weaved added — noting that Torch.AI has a hybrid workforce.
“We’re looking to partner with great architectural firms and designers to think about what this future space looks like,” he explained. “We have this really unique opportunity to have almost a clean sheet of paper and reimagine the future of work. [Torch] is very well capitalized and profitable, so it creates this interesting opportunity for us to evolve a new way of working that supports our people.”
A great moment for Torch.AI — showcased by the company’s success and growth, Weaver said — is an opportunity for Kansas City to better understand what’s happening in the world of leading edge technology.
“The world is increasingly more complicated because of the amount and complexity of information; by learning what’s possible through the use of machine learning applications, people can change the world and make it a better place,” he said.