February 28th, 2013   /   Posted by Natalie Nathanson   /   Category: All, Startup Spotlight Interviews   /   Topics: , ,

Startup Spotlight: Automating Data Collection from SEC Filings - An Interview with Calcbench


Magnetude Consulting gives you a closer look into the Greater Boston startup community.  We interview tech startups and other entrepreneurial leaders to bring you their stories, as well as insights into marketing techniques that have helped them along the way.

Today’s interview is with the one of the founders of Calcbench, Alex Rapp. Calcbench is a startup that built an online XBRL analytics toolkit for users of financial statement analysis and stock market data.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

I got a degree in math and computer science, but I worked in communications for most of the 90s.  I went back to Business School, and that’s when I got into finance.  I started working as a hedge fund analyst until the financial crisis hit, and soon after got a job in corporate finance on a contract position. When that project ended, I decided I wanted to go out on my own.

Where did the idea for Calcbench come about?

My co-founder had the initial idea: He received advice about an opportunity to decipher a financial service industry technology called XBRL, and we took this on as a challenge.  We ended up winning first place in the 2012 XBRL US Challenge, which solidified in our minds that we were doing good work.  Because there didn’t seem to be many firms doing this well, we decided to launch Calcbench.

How would you describe the value proposition that Calcbench provides?

We help people get data and information out of SEC filings in an automated way.  The traditional model is that people will type information into databases from these filings and resell that to corporate users or investors, but our edge is that we’re able to do that at a much lower cost.  We can pull this info out without an army of typists, and we can do it in much greater detail than they’re able to get because our extraction is completely automatic, and the info is coming directly from the company that filed it.  Our product is geared towards corporate users, and we can offer them a solution much cheaper than the status quo.

Who are the corporate users that you target as customers?

Mainly financial planners, CFOs, accountants, treasurers – it’s really anyone who benchmarks their company against competitors or needs to evaluate their supply chain.  For our target user, this work is usually not their full-time job, but something they do a few days a month, and they don’t want to spend that time digging it up by hand.

How would you describe the current phase of the company?

We just doubled from 2-4 people. We’re in beta right now.  We’ve been in pre-launch mode for a while, and we’re very close to launching commercially.

Have you started to think about what your marketing activities will look like?

We’re building marketing materials now and planning a redesign of our website. Our message is very simple in that we believe that we’ve got something that people are looking for, so it’s really just about matching up what people are looking for to who we are.  We also have someone out in the field talking to users, building user profiles and putting that into documents.

If you could broadcast one message to your target customer, what would it be?

We have something that can save you time and money doing the job that you’re doing now, as well as provide you with features that will help you increase the ability to do even more analysis and enable you to do a better job in the future.

If you’re interested in being interviewed for the Magnetude Startup Spotlight or you would like to learn more about our marketing services for startups, please contact us today!

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