It's a given that banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, research firms and others have an insatiable need for data to make decisions — where to place bets, what companies to buy or fund, to whom to extend credit, and so forth.
Finding the right data from new sources, including data aggregators, alternative credit bureaus and satellite imagery, and making it readable to existing programs is a huge chore.
"The need to bring in more data and wring value out of it is accelerating," said Philip Brittan, CEO of Crux, a startup that received $10 million in Series A funding led by Goldman Sachs on Wednesday.
Brittan formerly worked at Bloomberg, Google and Thomson Reuters.
"We see a challenge in finding the broad scope of relevant data and making use of it. And once they find data, it's a huge mountain of work to ingest the data — all that data prep, which we call data janitorial work, all that stuff you do to engineer data into the right form." This includes extracting just the data fields a company finds relevant, formatting them in a way programs can read, mapping identifiers and cleaning out "bad" data.
"It's highly redundant work, and there are no economies of scale," Brittan said.
Crux does such work for a monthly fee. It will help a firm find the right providers of data, clean and format, monitor it and remediate any problems.
In one scenario, a hedge fund wants to analyze credit card transactions. Crux will help find vendors of credit card data, validate the data, line up merchant IDs and reporting periods, and present it as one table of normalized data.
In another case, Crux might pull data out of filing documents on a government website or draw satellite images to analyze a retailer's traffic flow.
It's about helping financial services with their goals of pricing better, having a better ability to predict and make better decisions, Brittan said.