Exabel is a technology company based in Oslo, Norway. Exabel builds high-end tools for finance professionals, combining sophisticated mathematics with intuitive user experiences.
I joined Exabel as the sixth team member, while the company was in the early R&D phase. Since then, Exabel has grown to 30+ employees. My role was to lead the product design.
Exabel is the first product to offer quantitative financial analysis and machine learning as a user-friendly off-the-shelf solution.
The platform simplifies highly complex concepts, and enables humans to work with inhumanly large datasets. Advanced mathematics is camouflaged and translated into something that can be understood by anyone, delivered through a state-of-the-art web application.
The result is a completely new toolkit for fund managers and analysts, that enables them to do analyses that previously were only available to top-tier funds with teams full of PhDs.
As the lead designer from day one, I was responsible for developing the foundational user interface principles of the platform. This has been a highly winding road, with several major shifts as new market insight and user input informed our decisions.
I came to the project with both the advantage and disadvantage of not having in-depth knowledge about the domain. This was an advantage because it allowed me to explore solutions that may not have come to mind for someone with domain expertise. It was also a disadvantage, because some of those solutions were outright stupid.
Exabel now has a rich set of components and layout principles that enables the platform to be continuously extended while maintaining logical and visual consistency.
Contrary to traditional software for finance professionals, some of which even comes with the hardware, is Exabel a modern web application that can be accessed from any browser. The platform features a complete prediction modelling tool, a portfolio optimisation tool, a screener with point-in-time support, comprehensive entitlement control – and a whole suite of other features.
A large portion of the work at Exabel has involved visualising data. We built an in-house plotting tool, the Signal explorer, as well as numerous custom charts to communicate the outputs from alpha tests, portfolio backtests, prediction models and price models.
Exabel has a world-class team of quantitative analysts and researchers, focusing on analysing data sets and exploring modelling techniques. The key to being able to deliver the simplicity that Exabel aims for is that end user needs are considered all the way from fundamental research, through the data ingestion pipeline and backend service design, to the frontend.
This is a balancing act of figuring out what should be handled by the platform and what should be left up to the user, and how to present the output in a way that can be understood and trusted without necessarily understanding all the steps that led to the output.
Exabel established pilot projects with several funds early on in the design process, which allowed us to test concepts and receive feedback rapidly. This feedback guided our development efforts.
As the application grew, we continued to build minimal proofs-of-concepts within the production application, which allowed us to test the viability of a feature before committing to building a refined version.
The Exabel brand identity was designed in 2017. The logo mark is based on the mutliplication symbol ×. It felt clever at the time, but the logo mark has issues at smaller scales. Identity design is not my strongest side.
The public Exabel website is our most important marketing channel, and has gone through several revisions. I designed and maintained the site for four years.
I joined Exabel as the sixth team member, while the company was in the early R&D phase. Since then, Exabel has grown to 30+ employees. I've had the pleasure to work alongside some tremendously talented engineers, quantitative analysts and business developers.
I left Exabel in my fifth year, in August 2021, to join a new early-stage company in a different domain. At the time of writing, Exabel is going full speed ahead, with offices in Oslo, New York and London, and customers in both the EU and US. I have no doubt that the company is on the path to massive success, and I'm proud of my contribution.