Twitter meets financial news analytics

Twitter meets financial news analytics

 

In the age of digital media that is swamped with data, gathering real information becomes a tougher task. It is this mass web of news updates spread across social media platforms on the Internet that Heckyl Technologies (Heckyl) traverses to provide its customers real time financial information and analytics. “We believe that the right news will enable people to trade better. By aggregating such useful information, we help our users reduce their overheads by not having to verify numerous sources,” says Mukund Mudras, co-founder of the Mumbai-based company. Initiated in December 2010, Heckyl was founded by Abhijit Vedak, Jaison Mathews, Som Sagar and Mudras.

Named after a member of the raven pack family that can count and calculate, Heckyl’s sole focus is on the financial domain for retail investors. It offers news clustering, builds intelligence on news and social sentiment analysis of the market. “We want to be in a space that is not covered by the bigger players such as Bloomberg and Reuters – that’s how our business model evolved. While the core of being a strong sentimental information provider was unchanged, we decided to concentrate on a big space like retail, which is lacking concrete information. Hence, we bring a lot of value to analysts and brokerage firms that we work with,” says Mudras.

We believe that the right news will enable people to trade better. By aggregating such useful information, we help our users reduce their overheads by having to verify numerous sources.

With a B2B2C (business to business to customer) model, Heckyl currently works with five brokerage firms such as Edelweiss, Geojit BNP Paribas and India Infoline, with three more on the anvil. Its end customers are about a million strong. Heckyl ties up with broking houses, whose users can access its product, FIND (finance in news and data) and they’re charged either through its enterprise model or subscription model, which is based on its various packages (advance and pro). With a six-month cycle to introduce its next product, its latest product offering will be available from this April onwards with more added features after having received feedback from brokers and analysts.

Snap Shot

Heckyl Technologies
Founders: Mukund Mudras, Abhijit Vedak, Jaison Mathews, Som Sagar
City: Mumbai
Year: 2010
Investment: US $1 million from Seedfund in 2012, Rs. 50 Lakh from an angel investor
Strength: Analysing social media to offer real time financial news and analytics

This year, Seedfund invested US $1 million in Heckyl with the first tranche coming in this January. The funding is mainly being used for bettering its infrastructure and expanding its senior management team. Heckyl currently consists of a total of eight people.

Abstracting news
As Heckyl’s sources are social media, websites, blogs, reports etc. to gather news about the market/company/segment, the team has written specific filters to help sort through this data and prioritise it. “The Internet is so vast it is virtually impossible to obtain all the information. These filters on which the primary query happens hit about 1.5 million sources,” says Mudras. Since it is always on the lookout for new sources, to authenticate such a new source, it is first placed on its watch list for 20 days. The source is then moved to the active list if it does not remain idle. Similarly, a source can also be moved from the active to the watch list depending on its activity.

Since the company also helps understand the market feel or pulse, its Sentiment Response Engine (SRE) tries to interpret what is implied in a given context about a company or a sector, who has stated it, what are the sources and how fast it is spreading. “Such news is determined as good or deterrent news, and whether there is any trickling down effect. This would help us derive a positive or a negative social sentiment,” shares Mudras. And thus help individual investors to make informed decisions.

Coming together
All the four founders met while working at Merrill Lynch. With engineering backgrounds, each brings to the table their strength in technology and financial domains. Early on, the team realised that even with big players, the Indian user did not have too many options when it came to reliable information or had to depend on their broker. “When we conceptualised the idea about two years ago, we realised we were an early mover in this space. Awareness about social media was not high but it also gave us time to develop the product. Today, the acceptance is higher though not the same as in Europe or the U.S. markets,” says Mudras. The founders put in a seed capital of over Rs. 10 lakh and also received Rs. 50 lakh from an angel investor.

Each member has specific responsibilities – Vedak handles the database access requirements, Mathews takes care of the user interface while Sagar and Mudras deal with strategy and marketing. Mudras adds that with trading being a very controlled and safeguarded domain, it took time to make inroads but they have now gained acceptance from the financial community. Heckyl is only accessible when a user logs into a trading application. Now, the cycle time for customer acquisition has also come down – from four months it is now reduced by 50 per cent, thanks to growing awareness about social media. Initially, the founders tapped into their network to help spread the word about their product. “The toughest challenge we face now is to get the right senior people. We would like a core team of about 15 people, as we are not keen on a very big team.” The company has a unique methodology of hiring, where they spend enough time with a candidate and clear his/her doubts before actually starting the interview process.

Analysing growth
In June last year, Heckyl won the Indian Angel Network’s (IAN) multi-city boot camp contest. “The biggest risks we face are in ensuring a sound team and keeping ourselves updated on the evolving market and technology,” says Mudras. He is clear that Heckyl will continue to focus only on the financial domain for the time being. For the coming quarter, the company will look to triple its client base. While the product is being used by end customers in the U.S., the team is also working on its global reach by targeting Europe first. “FIND is a scalable application and it can go live with any trading application in 15 days,” he adds. Their work on the latest product will be a move in this direction. “Our hope is that more people will be able to benefit from our services in making informed decisions. We would like FIND to become a retail traders’ tool,” he says on a parting note.


Concept in brief

Heckyl Technologies (Heckyl) traverses the mass web of news updates spread across social media platforms to provide its customers real-time financial information and analytics. Initiated in December 2010, Heckyl was founded by Abhijit Vedak, Jaison Mathews, Som Sagar and Mukund Mudras. Its sole focus is on individual investors. With a B2B2C model, Heckyl currently works with five brokerage firms with three on the anvil. Its end customers are about a million strong. With an investment of US $1 million from Seedfund, it now hopes to expand its team size, put in the right infrastructure and seek global partnerships.