Boston FinTech Meetup May Demo Night

The Boston FinTech Meetup group held a demo night earlier this week, with four companies presenting to a standing room only audience at Workbar in Central Square, Cambridge. Here’s a rundown of the companies in the order they presented, which also happens to be alphabetical.

Bullseye bills itself as “Slack for investors.” It’s a mobile app enabling private group chat about stocks integrated with news and performance data. Bullseye wants to help active investors collaboratively spot investment opportunities. Users receive notifications based on the stocks they watch and the people they know. College investment clubs are early adopters, and investment clubs certainly appear to be a likely audience. The Bullseye team expressed the hope that wealth managers and financial advisors will adopt their app as a secure and private platform for communicating with clients (assuming compliance hurdles can be overcome).

Calcbench has made a lot of progress since I first met them at MassChallenge a few years ago. The mission, though, is the same: getting inaccessible data out of SEC filings (10-Ks, 10-Qs, footnotes) in an automated way. They do this by leveraging eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) to offer analysts instant online access to data from financial reports filed with the SEC. The Calcbench team sends clients clean, consistent data within minutes of the filing being made. Data is available via Excel add-in or API. Clients include Credit Suisse, The Wall Street Journal, and Vanderbilt University.

The third presenting company, MarkLogic, is already pretty big. The company has raised over $70MM from Sequoia Capital, Tenaya Capital, and others. Lehman Brothers was an early backer. MarkLogic offers schema-agnostic Enterprise NoSQL database technology, coupled with powerful search and flexible application services. It scales to petabytes. One investment bank uses MarkLogic for real-time monitoring and analyses of its risk exposure in derivatives trades. Citi, JPMorgan, and KPMG are clients. The database is available as a service on AWS. Users can build rich feature sets pretty quickly using JavaScript.

Shortlist wants to disrupt the global headhunting industry by moving senior level recruiting to a digital platform. They are creating an invitation-only community of trusted experts known as “connectors” who will recommend candidates for senior positions in asset management. They have around 300 connectors on the platform today. At least one global money manager is a client and through Shorlist it recently hired a senior fixed income portfolio manager.

Upending the executive recruiting industry means up-ending the pricing model as well. So Shortlist won’t be taking six figure retainers or 1/3 of first year’s compensation on successful placements. Shortlist won’t compensate connectors for successful recommendations, either. Instead, they believe people will make recommendations for three reasons:

  • A desire to be influential,
  • A desire to help friends and colleagues, and
  • A desire to have people you have helped in influential positions.

I like the concept, but have two questions:

  1. How many referrals will connectors be willing to make in exchange for solely psychic benefits?
  2. Can Shortlist help diversify the pool of candidates for top positions in asset management? Relying solely on the personal networks of people who are already insiders would seem to make this difficult.

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