First, I want to say thank you Rachel for fitting me into your busy schedule his was my first interview with any CEO or entrepreneur, what an amazing opportunity- not only was it was eye opening, it was also invigorating! My interview with Rachel sparked something dormant inside of me that I did not know was there.
Intrinio is a FINTECH company that is disrupting the finance sector with some well needed innovation, referred to as, “the Amazon of financial data and apps.” In this fast-moving high tech world, we often live our days so fast we often find ourselves asking where does the time go?
Rachel and her team at Intrinio are solving that very problem: giving people something more valuable than money, giving them more time. After speaking with Rachel for about 20 minutes, I realized I was not educated on FINTECH topics.
I wondered how many other people in the world haven’t heard of this sector either. Unfamiliar with the financial market data field an issue that needs addressing. Here are some quick facts: “Market Data is often quoted as being a typical Bank’s second largest expenditure item after Headcount/Payroll.”
According to ATRADIA Research Report, “Bloomberg is now charging $24,000 a year for a single terminal subscription.” Finance Yahoo News explains, “Terminal’s importance to the success of Bloomberg LP. It’s the source of roughly 80 percent of the company’s massive revenues $7.9 billion in 2012.” Written by The NyMag, “These are just highlights of costs. There are so many more things such as the dinosaur of an interface it uses and the frat like loyalty some of the users have due to its steep learning curve and difficulty to navigate.”
Thus, we have Rachel Carpenter, someone who is trying to disrupt the status quo and this what she had to say.
In one word, how would you describe yourself?
What would you say your daily routine is like?
Oh man, wake up work, work, work, workout, and work some more followed by laughter.
What time does your day usually start?
Usually around 7 AM.
What was your first job after college?
The company that I started, I started the company in college. (Intrinio)
What sparked the idea for Intrinio?
Intrinio is a data company. We sell data, but that is not how we started, it kind of evolved into that. We had an idea to develop an app to disrupt valuation spaces. Example, if you needed to know the value of your public or private business or someone in the family dies and you needed the value of the estate. It is typically 50k to 100k for a consultant to tell you the value, and most of the job is automated. We wanted to build an evaluation application we then realized when building the app that we needed data what the revenues, expenses, stock prices were etc.
So, we went to go get the data and they told us it would be $20,000 a month, because we were redistributing it and not just digesting it internally we got hit with a redistribution fee. We did some digging and realized that this was a more disruptive opportunity then our original idea so we put the brakes on that and did the data thing instead.
How long did Intrinio go from idea to up and running?
Oh, my god…Years. We had the idea, but me and my co-founder/business partner Joey French had limited technical skills. We had the financial skills, but with no money at the point we couldn’t hire any programmers. If that was the case, we needed raise millions of dollars or we could just learn to code ourselves.
That took us almost two years to learn how to code do research on exactly what we were going to build. Now it took us a year and half to build it since it requires machine learning we had to feed a lot of data into over that time period to get it up and running. About three and half four years.
Did at any point you second guess yourself?
No, I actually have lost friends. It was a roller coaster because there would be times where I was sleeping on a couches eating ramen noodles trying to learn how to code, and I would have friends say, ‘what is your plan B?’ My reaction was, ‘what? No this is what I am doing and I am never going to do anything else.’ They just didn’t get that fact that I was on one path and I knew what I was doing.
Do you think you will always be running Intrinio is there anything bigger than this?
I don’t think bigger maybe different. I believe we are either going to be huge or we are going to have an acquisition offer in the next couple years. Yes, I believe it could be huge and be life long career or if we get acquired and we exit out to start my next thing is a feasible scenario.
Do you have any life passions?
Yes, fitness is one of side passions. I was an athlete in college I have competed in a couple bodybuilding shows. I have a blog that I write all my workouts down (For women who can do both.) it just so happened I had a lot of friends asking to write down workouts for them I just decided to put it on a blog they could look up there. I’m not sure I would really dive into, but I have some friends who work on statewide nutrition programs maybe we could blend into some sort of brand. A definite passion of mine just not as impactful as what I am doing now.
As a female CEO what do you think the most significant barrier is to female leadership?
Ourselves, I think? It is a tough question because I don’t like to draw attention to it. I think that women are just not confident enough to act like it is not a problem. Sometimes we feel the need to explain why we have the right to be there or qualify ourselves. Walk into a room full of guys an act like you are supposed to be there. Don’t be timid or confused, sit at the table, and bring your knowledge. Being in two industries finance and technology which are typically male driven I am frequently the only woman in the room.
What do you believe the biggest challenge would be for the next generation of female entrepreneurs?
I think things have gotten a lot better, I believe fundraising is a huge barrier. The amount of successfully run female companies is way more than successfully run male companies, but women only receive a fraction of the capital to start their companies. That is a huge challenge if you are not properly capitalized, it is hard to get off the ground.
I have several other female entrepreneur’s friends who struggle with it as well. Their company is called a “project” and it is frustrating to raise capital when you are not taken quite as seriously. I believe women’s attitudes have gotten better, but you can’t control externally whether or not someone is going to fund you.
What advice would you give women entrepreneurs?
Don’t qualify yourself, you don’t need to. Demand to be taken seriously, and work extremely hard. People don’t see the four years of time it took us to get the company up and running, and if you are not working 80-90 hour weeks you are not going to get anywhere.
Who has had the biggest influence in your life?
Definitely my mom, I have a powerhouse of a mother. A random house bestselling author she has written thirteen novels. Prior to that she was an investigative journalist. Shot down in a plane in Kuwait during a war over there, went undercover with the Mormon community in Utah with the FBI. She has done some amazing things in her life and basically taught me to be fearless.
I heard you admire Elon Musk and he said that “We get paid in direct proportion to the difficulty of the problem(s) that we solve.” What problem do you believe you currently solving?
If you look at each industry that has responded to technology, example education tech, mobile apps, etc. finances are usually the most behind they have not responded or embraced technology. We think the reason is because the lack of access to data. If you think of finance and everything that drives finance is data stock prices, financial statements you make decisions in finance based off of data. So if we are not innovating it is because the data is so expensive.
We cater primarily to developers building FINtech apps mobile apps on your phone that have stock data in them. All the developers that are in our shoes were getting quoted 20k a month. This is a huge barrier because if we have a sea of developers trying to build innovations getting charged 20ka month it creates a massive stall of growth in the industry.
Look at Bloomberg for instance one of our big competitors they still use a coding language called FORTRAN you may not know what this is because it was one of the first coding languages ever. Oil industry stopped using FORTRAN fifteen years ago, our goal is to break down those barriers and make all the data affordable.
On the bottom of your website there is a quote from Nikola Tesla it says, “the desire that guides me in all I do is the desire to harness the forces of nature to the services of mankind. I know tesla was a big believer in free energy and I see you use #Datafreed and you said in an article. “We won’t charge you anything extra to redistribute our data. Seriously. Post it on your blog, integrate it into your app, tattoo it on your bicep. Most financial data firms will charge you steep fees for this – but honestly, we don’t care. Redistribute away.” Is there a connection?
ABSOLUTELY YES, we view ourselves as the engine powering the developers of the word that are fixing finance. By providing them the fuel they need which is the data. What we do we actually give it away for free for the first six months if you are starting an app and you need data to build it. We want to power innovation and fix the problem in that industry. Everything in finance is expensive.
So, we give away free data to transform the industry.
In your mission statement it says you provide financial data and tools so the user can build something of meaning and value beyond money, something of intrinsic value. Do you believe you are building this company to give people back time in their daily lives to focus on the things that are most important in their life other than money?
Yes, we did an exercise to try to figure out what our value prop was and what our mission was. We got down to okay by giving people data it will allow them to build something. They are saving time, more importantly we are helping them save money. What is the point of making more money?
The point of making more money is to be able to do the things that you want so actually freeing up your time. So we are saving you time to make money to do all the things you want to do in life.
What is it that value beyond money?
More than anything my family, friends, relationships, people, experiences and culture.
After my interview with Rachel ended, I took some time to reflect on the things that stood out most to me. First, her passion for her company fused with this high energy she brings to the table when speaking about Intrinio is remarkable.
The fact that it took close to four years to start reminds me to be patient and learn my craft well. Understanding if you want to do something in the entrepreneurial world you are going to need to work, work ,work and work some more.
My final thought is that Rachel is doing something that brings enrichment to people’s lives. Through the innovation at Intrinio the team brings a positive force in the world. Giving people back the most important asset having a higher valuation than money: time.