October 10, 2019
This Small Business Week, we’re featuring talented and driven entrepreneurs in our ecosystem. What drives them? What does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur today? In this interview, we’re introducing you to Keren Mohnihan, Co-Founder of Boss Insights. Keren is an advocate for efficiency in private capital and a regular speaker featured in Thrive Global, Disrupter Daily, and Canadian Women Chamber of Commerce. Boss Insights’ portfolio manager gives private investors a competitive edge using big data and AI/machine learning to improve fund returns.
Check out other interviews and features in the series here.
What is your company in 2–5 words?
Boss Insights accelerates lending from months to minutes.
What do you offer to whom?
Boss Insights’ big data and AI platform, Smart Capital, supports banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders as they work to embrace digital transformation. Smart Capital accelerates lending from months to minutes. By accelerating screening, due diligence, and portfolio management, Boss Insights provides lenders with increased returns business loans from SMBs to mid-market.
“By enabling lenders to measure and track businesses, by automatically pulling and processing data from existing software systems, Boss Insights offers a telescope to measure current and future performance.”
To date, the process of applying and getting approved for a loan is largely manual including financials, credit checks, and relationships. That’s akin to predicting future performance by looking in the rearview mirror.
Why is now the time for your company to exist?
Lenders make money by having an information edge. Since 2011, the industry has been undergoing a digital transformation. By 2023, Boston Consulting Group has reported that digital lending will be a $1 trillion industry. From 2011-2017 banks that invested in digital transformation have Returns on Equity that are 2% higher than their traditional banking counterparts.
Here’s the reason why: US and UK banks are approving only 28% of SMBs who applied for loans and have a current upside opportunity to support the 72% of the companies were left on the table. Private lenders have noticed this and are gathering a lot of the business that banks have been unable to service.
With the advent of cloud computing, more and more data is available but not accessible. Cloud computing has been gaining prominence in business and spending is expected to grow 6x faster than overall IT spending through 2020. But each cloud-based application stores information in a different package, and there’s no system to consolidate them and get insights.
“Right from our first hire, we knew we wanted to foster a culture where individual input and the raising of ideas are encouraged.”
Boss Insights has devised a unique way to tackle this challenge by taking advantage of technological advances to lay the rails on which decentralized, automated lending runs.
Our data dock automates the data collection process so that lenders can get a deep view of a business, and our AI models compare the company’s position with the trajectories of thousands before it to predict future performance. Moreover, while some analytics tools have 0-15 integrations to cloud-based software, by scalably building API integrations, Boss Insights has created over 800 of them which outrank competitors by over 200%. This in combination with our data, business, and community partners gives us the right perspective and set of tools to accelerate the lending process from months to minutes.
What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?
Luke Moynihan and I started Boss Insights in 2017. Before Boss Insights, we started and sold two other startups. I have a Joint JD/MBA, and worked as a commercial banker, wealth manager and former founder of an impact startup. I am a regular speaker and have been featured in Thrive Global, Disrupter Daily, Women of Influence and Canadian Women Chamber of Commerce to name a few. I am an advocate for efficiency in private capital and believe that “Data is the Achilles’ heel of bias. If you don’t kill your bias, you’re going to miss out on an opportunity.”
Luke Moynihan is CTO of Boss Insights. Having started coding at 14, and starting a business at 18 that he sold in his twenties, Luke has become an industry expert in scalable technology. Before Boss Insights, he managed a team of engineers to save Amazon millions and Points a million in costs. Realizing the impact of operational automation led him to develop AI and big data for debt and equity lending as a SaaS offering.
“Whether it’s my team, my clients, or my partners, if I’ve managed to ignite that spark in their eyes through my words or actions, I count it as a success. It’s been one of the secrets to building an exceptional team.”
It is the combined experience that has developed a strategic vision. Right from our first hire, we knew we wanted to foster a culture where individual input and the raising of ideas are encouraged. With a team of 7 data scientists, software engineers, and implementation specialists, we’ve managed to do just that while also building an elegant solution to support lenders through the digital transformation in the industry.
Together, we’ve built a people-first company and were so proud when our team was recognized by CBC as a place where roles are fit to people instead of the other way around. Boss Insights has received three award nominations of which two were for Entrepreneur of the Year (CSPN and The Timmy Awards) and one for AI Disruptor of the Year (IT World Canada).
How do you measure success?
I look for the sparkle in people’s eyes that only occurs when people are talking about or doing something they genuinely love. Whether it’s my team, my clients, or my partners, if I’ve managed to ignite that spark in their eyes through my words or actions, I count it as a success. It’s been one of the secrets to building an exceptional team.
Please share an example of an early lesson in life that helped shape who you are today.
For two years early on, I worked as an actor for two years. It was a large departure from anything academic that I’d focused on until that point in time. The number one rule in acting is relationships. It matters when filming and when finding work. It’s something that I remembered as I worked at the first start-up and kept with me at Boss Insights.
“When I push Boss Insights forward, it’s about a lot more than accelerating lending for businesses. It’s about empowering lenders to empower business owners so they can empower and measure dreams. That pushes me to strive for better results every day.”
How has being involved with ventureLAB helped your company this year?
Boss Insights is executing on its US expansion strategy. ventureLAB has provided advisory support in our marketing which has kept us on point.
If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?
I would be building another startup. Looking at it now, I’ve been drawn to startups since I was getting my JD/MBA degree and have been fortunate to have had a few opportunities to be part of the ecosystem.
“I feel grateful every day that I’m able to support a technology platform that will make the difference for the business owner of today and tomorrow.”
What does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur today?
Tenacity. As a second-time founder, I’ve been described as tenacious, and at times, adjectives have been used that are less flattering synonyms for the word tenacious.
When I push Boss Insights forward, it’s about a lot more than accelerating lending for businesses. It’s about empowering lenders to empower business owners so they can empower and measure dreams. That pushes me to strive for better results every day.
The life of an entrepreneur has been described as challenging and I wouldn’t disagree with that. It’s also invigorating, and I feel grateful every day that I’m able to support a technology platform that will make the difference for the business owner of today and tomorrow.
Anything else you’d like to add?
A hearty thanks to the ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs every day. We would not be where we are without ventureLAB, Hon. Mary Ng, iBoost, Schulich Startups and our incredible advisors.
Learn more about Boss Insights.
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About Small Business Week: A BDC initiative in its 75th year, Small Business Week is a national celebration of Canadian entrepreneurs and their contribution to Canada’s economy. Every year, close to 10,000 entrepreneurs gather to learn, network and celebrate the people building businesses across the country. Find an event near you.