How 3 Colorado startups are harnessing the power of data

by Christine Schmidt
July 17, 2014

There is so much data being collected each day, but it’s up to nimble companies to develop innovative ways for how to take advantage of it. Here are three Colorado startups incorporating data into their creative tech solutions:


Valen Analytics

Why they do what they do: Valen Analytics, which provides proprietary data, analytics and predictive modeling to help insurance carriers, was founded in 2002. "The problem that insurance companies face is that the people sharing the risk are not equal – some policyholders are higher risk and some policyholders are lower risk," CEO Dax Craig said. "As a result of policyholders paying the same rate, low-risk policyholders subsidize higher risk policyholders. Without better information and analytical tools, it’s difficult for insurers to accurately determine who will be a high risk customer in the future.

Valen started out by building predictive models to help insurers better discern between their policyholders and make more consistent and fair decisions on how much premium to charge on individual policies. We focus on property and casualty insurance that includes homeowners, and business insurance like workers’ compensation, commercial auto, and commercial property."

How they are innovating with data: "Data is the foundation of our entire platform. And, it’s turned out to be a critical asset for our customers as well. Just as we are celebrating Valen’s 10th anniversary, the insurance industry is facing fundamental challenges to their tried and true business model. Historically, insurance companies made most of their profits on investment income, meaning they take all our premium dollars and invest that money to create shareholder value. But, the economic downturn has changed this significantly. Now, insurers have to shift their focus to build a profit from their operations (underwriting, claims, etc.) and the best way to do that is to leverage advanced data and analytics."

Why data is essential to their market: "There is a big opportunity for insurers to become analytically-driven organizations, but as an industry, insurance is still playing catch-up. Although many large insurance carriers already utilize predictive analytics, small and mid-sized insurance companies often do not have the in-house data and IT resources necessary to build their own predictive models. That’s when they turn to Valen. We deliver the strategic tools to help insurance industry leaders of all sizes make more informed, evidence-based decisions in an evolving market. We essentially level the competitive playing field for insurers that don’t have the data and resources of the top 20 insurance companies."

What they are currently working on: "We just recently announced our new 'Risk Score,' an industry-standard measure of risk quality. It’s similar to how credit score works in lending, providing the industry with a standard measure of risk when lending money to consumers. When we first launched the Risk Score as a workers’ compensation industry standard in 2010, it was something that hadn’t been done before. Just last week, we announced that our new Risk Score has been bolstered by over a thousand new variables and boasts a 3x improvement over Valen’s current score. As an industry first, the new Risk Score also provides insurers with better insight into historically loss-free policies and enables underwriters to distinguish between risks even when the policy holder is claim-free."



What they do: Conspire's product gives people introductions to who they want to meet. It launched to groups of beta testers earlier this year. They are a team of four engineers with and currently have a lot of openings.

How they use data: "By analyzing email data, Conspire understands who knows each other and how well. Conspire finds strong paths of connections to get you the warmest introduction possible," co-founder Alex Devkar said.

How they got the idea for Conspire: "We had the good fortune of going through the TechStars Cloud program where we met a number of amazing mentors. With their help, we refined our initial idea of transforming data trapped in email into what you see today. Finding the right activity, project or company for you is a wonderful experience. We try to make each day meaningful, and that is possible when you're working at a nimble startup."



Field Squared

What it does: Fresh off its seed round and Apple App Store launch this past March, Field Squared allow users to create a personalized app for a business that mimics the existing paper-based processes the business’s teams use out in the field, but shared and in the cloud, according to CEO/founder Jason Doherty. “Your teams don’t need to need to change how they’re working in the field—they can just keep doing what they’re doing today and go digital,” he said.

Why it does it: “We got the idea by working closely with field techs from Comcast and Rogers companies in our past jobs, along with a lot of input from home healthcare workers from major healthcare providers,” Doherty said. “The guys in the trucks and the therapists in their cars had really defined needs that nobody was fulfilling, but no two teams worked the same way. You just couldn't build a standard product that met the needs of any two teams, even at the same company. So we built a product that could meet the needs of any field team by adapting the product to the teams we had to work with.”

How it innovates with data: “We also [do] team location tracking [and] scheduling/routing,” Doherty said. “We integrate with just about everything (Salesforce, DropBox, Google Drive, Sharepoint, email and most commercial databases). We can analyze and export or import your data, and we do all the standard workorder management functionality.”

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