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Making words work harder
Sometimes, the way you say something is more important than the words you use to say it. Words can have multiple meanings and those meanings can have different impacts in business. That’s where FinTech company Kinor Technologies come in.
Kinor has developed a relationship with Barclays following its experience on the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, programme, run through Rise, Barclays global FinTech community. The company has built an innovative piece of tech called kSpheres, which aims to make sense of alternative data for companies around the world. kSpheres transforms data from multiple channels into data sets that are useful and meaningful to analysts, using semantics and artificial intelligence. Jed Jehuda, Chief Operating Officer of Kinor Technologies, explains more.
What is kSpheres?
Essentially, kSpheres transforms multiple, disparate data sources into normalised databases. It can gather data from review websites or comparison sites, such as travel sites, where customers go to find deals based on different criteria. Business analysts will have different requirements from their data, and what kSpheres does is allows us to identify the relevant parts of varied data to track business performance.
All research is data driven and having better alternative data means you can produce better reports. Companies that can obtain better data have a significant competitive edge. Analysts often know of valuable data that’s available online but often they’re not able to make use of this data due to a lack of solutions that can collect and transform it into a useful and meaningful form.
Knowing what the data is and how to handle it is a big bonus for businesses. Let’s look at coffee shop reviews as an example and let’s say analysts are tracking various coffee chains in the UK. Customers write reviews, and we can use those to find the key words relating to the business. There’s lots of useful information in the reviews, but analysts need those words in the reviews and their meanings normalised into a form that they can relate to. This technique saves researchers, analysts and marketers time, and automates a potentially lengthy process.
How can it help businesses?
Sticking with the coffee shop example, analysts want to see what reviews say on a sentimental level, including any positive or negative words relating to the service, the facilities, and the coffee and food. We refer to those words as ‘concepts’. What kSpheres does is take those concepts and create a map, detailing what people are talking about in reviews and how much they’re talking about it.
We can take that information and turn it into a graph to monitor positive reviews about, say, the cake a coffee shop sells, and monitor them over a period so you can see how many people left positive reviews on that cake and when. For a business like Barclays, the data will naturally be less about cake and more about banking – but the analysts know what they really want to look for. They’ll tell us and then we’re able to get that for them.
Kinor and Barclays Accelerator
Really, the first door was opened for us through Rise and the Accelerator programme. The relationship with Barclays gave us the chance to demonstrate what we can do.
Without the Accelerator programme, we probably wouldn’t have been able to reach the same people in the beginning. In every single meeting, we were asked “Who are your customers?”. I think investors can be unsure of companies with unfamiliar customers. Now that the company has contracts with Barclays and two other top- tier banks, Kinor is in a very strong position and it’s great to make that statement.
How’s it going so far?
On a technological level, I want to believe we’re a world leader in what we do – I don’t know of anybody who does what we do, as well as we do it. In terms of business relationships, we’ve reached the best possible relationship with our top-tier customers in a relatively short time. Having three top- tier bank customers within a year is a nice achievement.
The experience we’ve had with Barclays and Rise has been so positive and supportive. We were given an opportunity by the Accelerator programme, and now Barclays is benefiting from what we’re able to do: I think it’s a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship.
And how do you see the relationship developing with Barclays?
Currently we have a long-term contract in place with Barclays. We’re doing more than two dozen projects with Barclays and our other customers. The business has grown so much: we started out doing a pilot, and it’s multiplied itself by five since we started. We told them to give us the challenging stuff and they were more than happy to do that! We’ve been lucky in that Rise recognised early on that we have something unique to give.
Our vision for the future is to provide a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution for doing what we do, customers can configure their own sources and get the exact data they want, in the form they want it, without having to come to us to provide the service to them.
Looking ahead, we’d like to increase our engagement level with Barclays on our current data service for Equity Research and we’d also like to apply our expertise to additional bank functions that require alternative data.
What advice would you give to a FinTech company just starting out?
Understand what clients want from you. It took us almost a year until we really understood what Barclays wanted from us. And what they wanted was exactly what we do best – without any add-ons. That was when we realised: instead of trying to understand what data researchers are looking for and what they want to do with it, we just have to know what data they want. That realisation helped us move forwards quickly.
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