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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 28, 2018 10 months ago

Prime the pump: Tech firm gears up for big 2019

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Financial data industry disruptor Intrinio spent a good chunk of 2018 laying the groundwork for a 2019 breakout.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

For the second half of 2018, St. Petersburg-based Intrinio co-founder and CEO Rachel Carpenter spent more time out of Florida than in it. 

“It’s been a crazy six months,” she says. “I’ve only been in Florida for a few weeks. It’s fun but exhausting — in a good way. When you’re this busy as a startup, it’s a good thing.”

Since May, Carpenter's financial tech company, or fintech, has added a number of new products to its lineup of financial data streams, including exchange-traded funds and cryptocurrency. One of the Business Observer's Top Entrepreneurs of 2018, she has plans to introduce even more specialized categories, such as municipal fundamentals, as the firm, which she co-founded in 2013 with Joey French, seeks to continue its disruption of an industry dominated by major players including Bloomberg, Morningstar and Thomson Reuters. (An "oligopoly” is how Carpenter describes that trio of industry stalwarts.) 

“We really spent time over the summer investing in our infrastructure, so we can get ready to explode next year." Rachel Carpenter, co-founder and CEO of Intrinio.

“What's interesting about our model is that it's super expansionary for us, because with every different type of data we add, there's a new use case for it,” Carpenter says. “So, for example, now that we have cryptocurrency data, any crypto startup or platform out there that needs the data could be a client. It’s continually exciting to see our data come alive.”

Carpenter says she’s been traveling so much partly because she seeks someone to run a business incubator program, of sorts, that Intrinio started last year almost by happenstance. That happened when the company began to give fintech developers access to its data streams free of charge for six months.

“Our data is now powering 300 other fintech startups. It’s pretty cool,” she says. “So we’re on the hunt for someone to run that program. It’s an experiment that just happened to work really well.”

Carpenter has also been on the road meeting with “much bigger institutions” as Intrinio’s clout in the industry has grown. She says the company has seen a 30% increase in enterprise sales leads over the past quarter, adding she expects that line of business to grow even more in 2019.  

Financial goliaths such as Goldman Sachs, Invesco and Raymond James are on Carpenter’s radar, but to win their business, she says her company must improve some of its internal systems and processes. That’s why she led what she calls “Operation Button-up” for part of 2018, a fine-tuning of processes and systems.

“We really spent time over the summer investing in our infrastructure," Carpenter says, "so we can get ready to explode next year.”

Intrinio is also building a new, semi-automated system for integrating data more efficiently. One 2019 goal? Reach 500 data feeds — nearly double what the company already offers.

The flip side to the time and expenses spent on the future is Carpenter had to tap the brakes on Intrinio’s growth. (She declines to disclose specific revenue figures). 

Automation, also, can accomplish only so many tasks, though. If it continues its growth trajectory, Intrinio will need to expand its workforce, which Carpenter admits has been a struggle. In May, Carpenter expressed hope the company would have 20 employees by the end of 2018. But its payroll remains stuck at 15.

“It speaks to the challenges of having a company down here,” Carpenter says. “We have job descriptions out for data analysts and (a) developer community manager.”

Those jobs have been tough to fill locally, she says. “We recognize that we can’t find all of our technical talent in Florida, so we’re being flexible. We already have a lot of programmers who are remote, so we’re starting to expand the search.”

Intrinio will likely have 40 employees by the end of next year, which means Carpenter has her work cut out for her as a executive — a fact of which she’s mindful. “I'm going to make mistakes, but I’m trying to look 10 steps down the road and get prepared," she says, "because it takes an entirely new skill set at each step of the journey.”

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