Narrative Science Raises $11 Million Series E

NarrativeScience_homepage_April2017

In a round co-led by Sapphire Ventures and Jump Capital, advanced natural-language generation technology innovator Narrative Science has raised $11 million. The Series E round takes the company’s total funding to more than $40 million. Quoted in Crain’s Chicago Business, Sapphire Ventures partner Jai Das wasted few words in explaining Narrative Science’s edge. “People like to read,” Das said. In other words, it’s all about the Advanced NLG.

Narrative Science specializes in using advanced natural-language generation technology to turn ordinary numeric and symbolic data and visualizations into what the company calls “intelligent narratives.” These narratives express in language indistinguishable from that of a human author all the relevant insights and context from the chosen data. This data can take a variety of forms, including business intelligence reports, customer communications, and regulatory filings – any information that is based on quantifiable data can be turned into an intelligent narrative. “People who don’t have skill with spreadsheets, people who might not have skills with visualizations … they can still get to the insights within that data,” Kris Hammon, Narrative Science Chief Scientist explained during the company’s demo at FinovateFall.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Narrative Science demonstrated its Quill Financial solution at FinovateFall 2013. The company, which celebrated its seventh anniversary in April, has been on a partnership spree in recent months. A deal with Sisense in February will put Narrative Science’s Narratives for Business Intelligence API to work for the company’s business intelligence technology, Sisense Everywhere. Also in February, Narrative Science partnered with FactSet to integrate automated portfolio commentary within FactSet’s analytics and client reporting platform. We featured Narrative Science in our look at artificial intelligence in fintech back at the beginning of the year. Stuart Frankel is CEO.

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: NCR Corporation

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 2.24.21 PM

FS2017-Logo(rev)V1A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on April 26 & 27 in San Jose. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

NCR Corporation, a global leader in omni-channel solutions, will demonstrate a fully immersive virtual reality ATM experience with real-time remote collaboration using an NCR SelfServ 80 Series ATM.

Features

  • Multiple people at different locations can look inside an ATM
  • Enables ATM training and servicing via a remote expert
  • Faster resolution of technical problems via real-time collaboration

Why it’s great
Real-time remote collaboration is a highly effective method of showcasing technology and developing expertise. NCR is a leader in this kind of innovative product development.

Presenters

Suzan Szollar, Senior Product Manager, NCR Corporation
LinkedIn

Shuki Licht, Chief Architect, Head of NCR Innovation Lab, NCR Corporation
LinkedIn

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: GoodData

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 2.39.07 PM

FS2017-Logo(rev)V1A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on April 26 & 27 in San Jose. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

GoodData will demonstrate how to leverage machine learning as part of a complete Enterprise Insights Platform to deliver prescriptive insights to users at the point-of-work.

Features

  • Boost profits and productivity via machine learning
  • Radical personalization for users at their point-of-work
  • Data enrichment as a precondition for better models

Why it’s great
GoodData’s platform is designed to seamlessly integrate into financial customers’ existing systems and applications, dramatically enhancing and automating decision making processes for business users.Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 2.50.07 PM

Presenters

Bill Creekbaum, VP of Products
Creekbaum has been in product management and product marketing for nearly 20 years and for the past 10 has been focused on successfully delivering SaaS and Cloud Applications to the market.
LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 2.50.21 PMGrant Salisbury, Head of Sales Engineering
As Head of Sales Engineering, Salisbury helps global companies create collaborative data products and smart business applications that drive innovation across their business ecosystems.
LinkedIn

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: Finicity

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 3.06.01 PM

FS2017-Logo(rev)V1A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on April 26 & 27 in San Jose. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

Finicity is leading the charge to speed up credit decisioning by digitizing key elements, including the burdensome and paper-laden verification of assets and income process.

Features

  • Freeing up resources, improving accuracy and reducing fraud for lenders.
  • Giving borrowers a paper-free, hassle-free experience.
  • Shortening the time to loan

Why it’s great
Finicity believes that owner-permissioned transaction data is going to revolutionize credit decisioning. Verification of assets and income is just the beginning.Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 3.28.36 PM

Presenters

Nick Thomas, EVP and Co-founder
Thomas heads up data services at Finicity. He’s inspired by changing industry and consumer experiences through data aggregation and focuses on ways to constantly improve data access and quality.
LinkedIn

Jessie Morris, Director of EngineeringScreen Shot 2017-04-17 at 3.28.51 PM
Morris is a problem solver by nature and a master software engineer and developer by trade. He plays a major role in designing and reimagining the Finicity data aggregation platform.
LinkedIn

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: Divy

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.11.23 AM

FS2017-Logo(rev)V1A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on April 26 & 27 in San Jose. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

Divy transforms investing. Finding stocks is simple and engaging. Buying them takes one tap, $10 and no commission. Divy – The Market is Now Open.

Features

  • Discover: Find stocks based on everyday thoughts and ideas
  • Invest: Buy stocks with as little as $10
  • Save: No AUM. Commissions starting at zero

Why it’s great
Investing has never been more approachable, accessible or engaging. Divy meets the promise made but rarely fulfilled – investing accessible and affordable to all!

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.15.00 AMPresenters

Marc Teren, Founder and CEO
Whether it’s Disney, Washington Post, or high-profile startups like Cars.com, Teren has led the transformation of industries at the intersection of technological disruption and enablement.
LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.15.10 AMReichart Von Wolfsheild, Chief Software Architect, CTO
Von Wolfsheild is an award winning technologist, cognitive computing expert, History’s “Invention USA” host, and developer of 120+ cutting edge consumer products for the Fortune 500.
LinkedIn

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: IBM Trusteer

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.30.34 AM

FS2017-Logo(rev)V1A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on April 26 & 27 in San Jose. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

IBM Trusteer helps protect digital banking applications as well as personal devices from financial cyber threats, such as advanced malware and phishing attacks.

Features

  • Behavioral biometrics distinguishes between legit users and fraud
  • Rapid phishing protection using patented machine learning and advanced analytics
  • Threat intelligence service adapts to new attacks

Why it’s great
IBM Trusteer, a leading provider of advanced financial fraud solutions, delivers a holistic cybercrime prevention platform with a cognitive approach to help reduce fraud and create a seamless customer experience.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.33.45 AMPresenters

Shaked Vax, Trusteer Products Strategist
Vax serves as an IBM Security Trusteer Strategist and is a senior member of the Trusteer Product Management team. He has expertise in online banking, online fraud, ID verification, and theft prevention
LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.33.55 AMAyelet Avni, Product Manager – IBM Security
Avni is a security expert working currently as a Trusteer product manager for IBM Security.
LinkedIn

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: Newchip

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.37.50 AM

FS2017-Logo(rev)V1A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on April 26 & 27 in San Jose. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

Newchip is a startup investment marketplace targeted at the 18 to 35 year old demographic, using machine learning to connect 200 million new U.S. investors to personalized investment opportunities.

Features

  • SmartMatch learning algorithm discovers opportunities for investors
  • Newchip codes allow users to discover new startups in the real world and invest on the spot
  • Millennials are its primary focus

Why it’s great
The company’s machine learning algorithm discovers investor preferences and sorts all active equity crowdfunding deal flow based on what an individual is most likely to invest in.

Presenter

Travis Brodeen, Co-Founder & CTOScreen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.45.14 AM
Brodeen believes crowdfunding is the future of investing and that millennials will lead the revolution. He leads the development of Newchip, the startup marketplace for equity crowdfunding.
LinkedIn

FinovateSpring Sneak Peek: CallVU

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 3.35.17 PM

FS2017-Logo(rev)V1A look at the companies demoing live at FinovateSpring on April 26 & 27 in San Jose. Pick up your tickets today and save your spot.

CallVU offers an omni-channel hub, enabling customers to use their channel of choice – mobile, web, voice or messaging, with digital self-service and a branch-like experience when human touch is needed.

Features

  • Increase mobile adoption
  • Divert callers to digital
  • Offer a virtual branch

Why it’s great
Breaking the glass ceiling of mobile adoption, CallVU migrates callers into a digital, self-service experience.Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 3.40.24 PM

Amitai Ratzon, VP Global Sales
Ratzon brings to CallVU over 15 years of financial services expertise, coupled with vast enterprise software sales experience. Previously, Amitai was VP Sales at Earnix.
LinkedIn

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 3.40.35 PMAssaf Frenkel, VP Product & Marketing
A pioneer of mobile engagement, Mr. Frenkel was the founder and manager of the Mobile Engagement business unit at NICE. Mr. Frenkel was co-founder and CEO of mybitat, an IoT analytics company.
LinkedIn

Finovate Debuts: unblu Delivers an In-Person Customer Experience Online

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 3.49.19 PM

Collaboration suite provider unblu understands the value of in-person interactions in banking and the need to deliver a robust experience via digital channels. More importantly, however, the company has figured out how to balance the two by offering the personal touch of an in-person experience through mobile and online channels.

At FinovateEurope 2017, unblu CMO Jens Rabe began the demo saying, “Your customers are already interacting with your online channels everyday. The question is– are you actually taking advantage of those opportunities… driving sales and customer loyalty?” The company’s mobile collaboration solution offers banks an additional channel for live customer consults, using their existing mobile banking apps as the foundation for the interaction.

Company facts:

  • Privately funded
  • 25+ employees
  • Over 80 banks currently using software
  • Headquartered in Sarnen, Switzerland
  • Founded in 2012

32817402081_4addafe8b4_k

(above) unblu CMO Jens Rabe and CEO Luc Haldimann at FinovateEurope 2017 in London

We spoke with Luc Haldimann (pictured), unblu CEO after the show and followed up with an interview.

Finovate: What problem does unblu solve?

Haldimann: unblu facilitates an in-person experience, online.
Digital transformation is probably the toughest job in banking today. Banks are not just in the financial business anymore, they’re in the business of enhancing consumer lifestyles and the competition is tough. Fintech newcomers are agile and can respond quickly to changed expectations and deliver cutting-edge digital services to empower customers.

In order to differentiate from competition and retain customer loyalty, banks need to support and advise customers through digital channels, in real time and in person. Effectively this means swapping the place of interaction from a high-street branch to a digital branch. We enable our clients to do precisely this, without having to redesign their digital channels or infrastructures.

Above: unblu’s administrative screen shows queue of client requests

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?

Haldimann: Over the last few years, we have become specialists for live engagement in the financial sector. Our primary customers are banks who we sell to directly and via leading integrators. These banks are distributed worldwide and include UBS, Intesa SanPaolo, PostFinance, Comdirect, Fineco, Bank Millennium, Societé General and Komerční Banka for example. And of course our partners are invaluable to us. We have fantastic relationships with our many strategic partners, which most notably include over 30% of the technology vendors listed in the leaders’ quadrant of Gartner’s magic quadrant for global retail core banking. Our partners have made and continue to make our offering easily accessible to a myriad of customers around the globe.

Finovate: How does unblu solve the problem better?

Haldimann: Put simply we listen carefully to our customers and adapt our solution to fit their requirements. Our focus on banking and its specific challenges enables us to evolve with the industry and adapt to changing needs. This has led to an intricate understanding of the industry’s security, regulatory and technological environment. unblu is uniquely designed to allow banks to rollout a live engagement solution which respects all these constraints.

Of course there are other vendors offering live engagement solutions. Due to our experience we often find
ourselves one step ahead and able to quickly adapt and present a solution regardless of the anomalies relating
to the finance industry. We understand customer centricity in combination with secure environments as the key value proposition in our market segment.

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.

Haldimann: My favourite projects are the ones where we’ve succeeded in working closely together with clients to leverage the maximum impact of unblu. It’s incredibly exciting and fulfilling to collaborate with banks who understand the capabilities of unblu and how to utilise it to make an impact within the market. 50% of swiss cantonal banks are already working together with us and share our vision and enthusiasm enough to actually change the way they do business and start building their customer journeys in ways which will allow them to digitally address clients.

These types of clients are savvy and demanding and push us to develop the suite even further in order to
accommodate their needs. Working with customers and helping find solutions that make them happy is what
drives the collaborative spirit at unblu.

unblufeaturecobrowsing

Above: unblu offers co-browsing for an interactive user session

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?

Haldimann: Before founding unblu I worked a lot with banks to develop a screen based advisory tool for use in high street branches. This experience taught me a great deal about the in person, face to face advisory processes within banks. Previously to unblu I also helped SAP and HP creating online configurators and developed a fascination for the limits of self service tools. Combining the two ideas seemed very compelling. The true value of the proposition has become apparent since the crisis within the financial sector. The necessary change in mindset and the digitization movement are driving forces in our success story.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from unblu that we can look forward to over the next few months?

Haldimann: Truly compelling customer service must be intuitive, emotionally rich and also available when needed. We are about to launch our SDK package that will allow unblu to work seamlessly within native mobile phone apps. This  means unblu’s collaboration suite will be extended to mobile devices, which is a huge opportunity for financial institutions to create win-win scenarios with their valued customers.
You can also expect to see us expanding both geographically and into new markets throughout the year. We’ve
recently increased our sales coverage in response to demand from global enterprises seeking a solution as
mature as unblu’s, which they haven’t been able to find within their own market. Additionally, we’re beginning to broaden our solid customer base within the fin serv sector itself and have acquired a number of insurance clients including AOK, SwissLife and AON.

unbluliveview

Above: unblu’s interactive chat session

Finovate: Where do you see unblu a year or two from now?

Haldimann: unblu began as a specialized co-browsing solution. In line with market demands we have built out a complete online engagement suite specifically aimed at the financial sector. We are proud of the level of expertise we have achieved and we will continue to develop and maintain our position as market leader for live engagement in the finance sector. There is already a new market segment in the making to enable banks to build effective virtual branches and unblu will be a huge part of that moving forward.


unblu CMO Jens Rabe and CEO Luc Haldimann at FinovateEurope 2017 in London

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Finovate Debuts: unblu Delivers an In-Person Customer Experience Online.
  • Check out our latest Sneak Peeks of upcoming FinovateSpring demos from Newchip, IBM Trusteer, Divy, CallVU, Finicity, GoodData, & NCR Corporation.
  • Narrative Science Raises $11 Million Series E.

Around the web

  • MaxMyInterest members gain access to increased FDIC insurance and competitive yields on cash balances courtesy of new partnership with UFB Direct.
  • Bahrain-based Bank ABC goes live with omni-channel digital banking service using Backbase’s platform.
  • Revolut joins forces with UK online mortgage broker, Trussle, enabling prospective homebuyers to begin the application process on mobile phones.
  • PayPal teams with Android to launch a new way to pay.
  • Lending Club launches mobile app for investors.
  • Handpoint launches analytics dashboard.
  • ProfitStars and Tyfone partner to offer digital banking and billpay solution.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.