Andrew Peek, Delphia co-founder and CEO (left) and Cameron Westland, Delphia co-founder and CTO … [+]
Two observations: There’s tons of consumer data about us floating around, from our location to our streaming preferences. But most of us don’t have any way to benefit from the use of that information.
Also, a small portion of people don’t participate in the financial markets.
Two years ago, Andrew Peek considered those statements and saw a way to build an impact business around them. What if there were a way, he wondered, to let regular folks derive a benefit from all that data by providing useful intelligence for investors—and perhaps getting a foot into the financial markets, too?
That, in a nutshell is what Peek’s company, Delphia, is all about. An asset manager with a twist, the company, which is described on the web site as “an investment collective”, will have different kinds of customers. Some will use Delphia as an asset manager. Others will choose to become data providers. (At some point, they might overlap). The former, the asset management clients, will pay a fee. But Delphia will then redistribute half of it to data contributors. There’s also a point system for different types of data that determines the share of redistributed fees participants can get. As an added incentive, users (called members) who refer someone to the company receive a quarter of a point on every dollar invested by that person.
“It’s a way for those who want to pay for an investment advantage to promote financial inclusion,” says Peek, who is co-founder and CEO of the company.
In the asset management world, “unique proprietary data is at the heart of creating a competitive advantage,” says Peek. In Delphia’s case, the plan is to collect social media, banking, location, streaming and other data from participating users. The platform pairs all that with answers to questions on topics like current events regularly posed to members through a mobile app. Delphia then creates a continuously evolving profile of users. (It doesn’t sell data to any third parties). Users control which data sources to share with and link to the company.
Ultimately, Delphia uses that intelligence to forecast relevant trends and the potential impact on a universe of public companies, perhaps going out three to four quarters in the future. “It allows us to get ahead of those trends before anyone else sees them,” says Peek.
As an example, Peek cites the recent launch of Disney +, Disney’s streaming channel. Delphia would analyze data, looking to make inferences about, say, how many viewers might defect from Netflix to the new competitor. “Every other asset manager is trying to figure out the same thing. The difference is, we have this panel of individuals and information about not just their intentions, but their behavior,” he says.
The secret sauce is a method for extrapolating measures of public opinion pioneered at the University of Toronto and used at Vox Pop Labs, a team of social and statistical scientists, to forecast real-world events. “They were using data in ways I’ve never seen before,” says Peek, who was bowled over when he first encountered the group. He also says he spent three years persuading the team “they had something venture worthy. “ In 2018, Delphia spun out of Vox Pop as an independent company; a few months later, Peek went through Y Combinator. Over the past year, he raised $14 million in investment.
According to Peek, the data analysis method works with small samples, as long as participants are highly engaged. Also, there’s a minimum level of sign-ups that needs to be reached before Delphia will start collecting and analyzing data. He’s working on getting to that number now.