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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Krishna Venkatraman, Senior Vice President of Analytics at OnDeck (Part 3)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 21st 2016

Sramana Mitra: The next question I’m going to ask you is that you said you have different heuristics and different nuances from one segment to another. Could you give us some examples of what you check for one industry and how you structure another?

Krishna Venkatraman: If you’re looking at a landscape that has a seasonal pattern, you may see a very strong projection of revenue because it’s probably its peak season. The obligation that that landscaper will take on actually will extend past that summer. For that particular industry, you have to accommodate the fact that seasonality will play a role. Other businesses have a lot more stable profile. You have to customize those aspects for each business. You could use manual underwriting to get at this but the challenge with manual underwriting is there’s no guarantee of consistency.

Sramana Mitra: You can’t do it at scale. If you’re trying to do it within minutes and seconds, that’s not going to happen if you do it manually. The trend of your industry of this whole online loan processing is now carrying over into other old school industries as well. American Express is now offering loan approvals within minutes. The technology-based solutions that you’re talking about are going to be implemented very broadly throughout the industry sectors that you are in right now.

Krishna Venkatraman: Yes, I think for our customers, it’s a great story.

Sramana Mitra: Where do you see open problems in your space? What are you observing that are open opportunities where you would recommend new entrepreneurs to go look for new business opportunities?

Krishna Venkatraman: I’ll say the problem that we have been focused on is getting as much information as we can about small businesses so that  we’re able to treat them as effectively as possible and give them the best experiences when they come and talk to use at every point in our interaction. It’s not just the credit decision but also when we reach them and when they apply. The big abiding problem right now is making the data ecosystem of small businesses much more friendly and much more available to everybody.

For entrepreneurs, that’s still an open space and one that’s growing and changing as we speak. There are new data sources becoming available. There are new types of conduits and channels through which that data can flow. For instance, I was in the pricing industry many years ago. At that time, we built the first online pricing optimization solutions and we used POS data that had been collected for years.

I feel like there’s a big opportunity for us to start unlocking small business data from various silos and helping make that available so that small businesses benefit. There’s no better time to do it than now. Even when I started three years ago, the difference between then and now is massive – data processing, machine learning libraries. There’s a very interesting trend of companies who are trying to aggregate government information about small businesses and making those available. I think all of the confluence of different trends is very positive. I think it’s very exciting for any entrepreneur to jump into the space.

Sramana Mitra: Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Krishna Venkatraman, Senior Vice President of Analytics at OnDeck
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