FactGem combs through massive troves of data to reveal business insights.
Megan Kvamme left her career as an investment banker behind, but she still thinks about the job and the tasks it requires. In fact, trying to make the workload more efficient led her to launch FactGem, a startup that uses technology to help clients manage and analyze lots of data.
The Columbus-based company’s software integrates data from disparate sources to expose insights that can drive business decisions. Kvamme founded the company with Clark Richey, who brings a background in government intelligence projects. The partners decided to develop the software when Kvamme realized there wasn’t a product available to merge and analyze siloed data in the way she wanted.
“I can’t be the only one person with this problem,” she remembers thinking. “I started talking to tech people asking, ‘Is this something that can even be solved?’ ” she says. “My old self would be jealous of me having this technology.”
Richey was one of the first people who saw the potential of her idea: “He told me, ‘This is going to be really, really hard but I’m willing to work with you.’ ”
He was intrigued with Kvamme’s project because he, too, saw the value in organizations being able to quickly combine and analyze data to make thoughtful business decisions. “It’s a really interesting problem,” he says. “At the very beginning, the general consensus was it couldn’t be done.”
Or at least not done in a way that would be accessible to non-technologists, he says.
Kvamme and Richey decided to pilot their idea in 2012 in the political arena. They created an application that collated data about voters, their histories and their interests. “We built an application that was readily available and able to be used [by campaigns] to better understand the people they were targeting,” says Kvamme, who is wife to Drive Capital founder Mark Kvamme.
Today, the company sees opportunity in almost every industry, she says. Every organization has more data coming in than it knows how to use to inform decisions about sales, human resources, supply chain logistics and other matters. “We all feel the effects of that,” she says. “We need to combine this data to make actionable decisions.”
Most companies already are doing some form of data analysis, but given the challenge of merging data that’s stored in formats that aren’t compatible, they are not able to create the 360-degree picture of their customer in the way they could with FactGem’s help, Richey says.
Part of the company’s sales pitch is helping would-be customers see the potential of integrating their information in new ways. “We’re developing new boundaries,” he says. “Even the smartest analysts are trained to think about the data in certain patterns because of the way the data was held.”
In most cases, clients will gain the ability to answer a whole new set of questions, he says.
The retail industry, a major player in the central Ohio economy, could benefit greatly from FactGem’s products, Richey says. As companies try to compete with Amazon, the more they can learn about their customers and their buying habits the better, he says.
FactGem recently formed a partnership with Prosper Insights & Analytics designed to increase both companies’ value to retail clients. Worthington-based Prosper Insights tracks consumer data and measures consumer confidence, spending, impulsivity and mood.
The speed at which FactGem can provide actionable information to clients will have a huge impact, says Prosper Insights CEO Gary Drenik. The ability to quickly combine a company’s internal data about its customers with Prosper’s big-picture findings addressing where else they shop and what their future intentions are will offer clients a holistic view of their customers, he says.
Armed with that level of detail, retailers can make solid predictions about the market, Drenik says. Companies should be able to create better sales forecasts, improve their marketing and messaging campaigns and target the right shoppers before they go shopping, he says.
“If you don’t know what else I’m doing, you can’t understand me as a customer,” he says. “They’ll be able to understand their customers and target them. That’s revolutionary. Targeting is the holy grail.”