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Help a MassChallenge startup: Calcbench

Posted by Chad O'Connor  December 12, 2012 11:00 AM

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Another installment in our ongoing series to help innovative MassChallenge companies get the word out about what they offer and get connected with what they need to thrive.

How did Calcbench get started?
Calcbench is a unique, next generation financial data provider. We operate in an unusual place, at the intersection of two very disparate fields: one very cutting edge (big data + artificial intelligence), and the other slow moving and old fashioned (accounting).

In short, we provide our customers financial information for about 8,500 companies listed on US based stock exchanges. And we are able to do this with more detail, faster, and at a much better value than other financial data providers because we are the first company to fully harness the power of a new, government mandated data reporting standard called XBRL. Therefore we are not constrained by the often very manual data collection process that has traditionally been used.

We are able to open up new markets for data and analytics tools that have been traditionally available only to big ticket customers like institutional investment firms. Individual retail investors, corporate financial analysts, and financial journalists are just a few examples of people who have often been left out in the cold, because they simply could not justify the high price of powerful tools like the ones we are creating. This is turn has made it more difficult for these groups to make informed decisions about very important topics, like retirement investing, and business strategy.

So we believe what we are working on is good business, but also will have a net benefit for society as a whole. After all, more people having access to the tools to make smarter financial decisions is probably a good thing.

What does Calcbench do?
The machine readable data universe we rely on is a very complicated, often times unstructured, pile of information. Properly extracting relevant information from it requires a mix of artificial intelligence, experimentation, and a lot patience. We correct a significant number of filing errors, and map a huge amount of inconsistencies. But we do it all with computers, and new filings are usually cleaned up and loaded into our cloud–based database just a few moments after they first are filed at the S.E.C. This is unprecedented.

From here the data goes out to our end users. It can be pulled out in raw form through our back end API, or worked with directly inside our web-based platform at Calcbench.com. Users examine individual companies in detail, or aggregate and compare information across companies and industries.

Another example, near and dear to the heart of many startups, is 409a valuations. Did you know that the people who assign tax valuations to startup companies are basing these valuations in large part from comparable information from public companies? And to get this information, they are often manually extracting it from paper filings.

Investment decisions, trend analysis, economic research, corporate benchmarking - these are all things we make easier and faster.

How can our readers be of help?
We are proud to have just launched the Beta version of our new benchmarking and analysis tool. It’s still very simple in form, with just a basic menu of features. But we are offering it for free for a temporary period in order to get user feedback. If you spend time digging through S.E.C. filings or otherwise working with public company data, the chances are we can save you a lot of time and effort, and help you do better work. Come to our website and try out our platform. And if you do, please let us know what you think!

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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