By Alison Ryu, Managing Director, CircleUp
I’m excited to share that I have joined CircleUp. Headquartered in San Francisco, CircleUp helps entrepreneurs thrive by giving them the capital and resources they need.
I spent the past four years at TSG Consumer Partners working with high growth consumer brands, and I really enjoyed that chapter. Many people have asked me why I decided to make a change and join CircleUp. Simply put, I wanted to be part of something that nobody else has done before. I was energized by the opportunity to build alongside an incredibly talented team. And I wanted to be as close as I could be to early-stage consumer entrepreneurs and their breakthrough brands.
We are working on a number of exciting initiatives at CircleUp, and I look forward to sharing more detail about what I will be working on in the coming months. For now, I’d like to share a few reasons why I am excited about CircleUp and how I believe data science will change the future of private investing.
The Power of Data
Not long ago I first learned about Helio, CircleUp’s proprietary data science and machine learning platform built to identify, predict and prescribe successful outcomes. I quickly became enthralled with the concept of using data to inform investment decisions, knowing that it had the potential to not only revolutionize how early-stage consumer companies receive the capital that they need to grow, but also how they will be able to use the analogous strategic insights to succeed.
I continue to be amazed by how technology has impacted the consumer sector. Thanks to the internet, brands now have the unique opportunity to speak directly to their end customers. This has led to a proliferation of young, high growth brands that are building authentic and differentiated products.
In contrast, private investing in CPG has yet to benefit from similar technological innovation. The amount of consumer-related data that exists is enormously valuable, and yet it is not being fully utilized. Data about a brand such as where it is sold (and not sold), how the consumer engages with it, and whether it outperforms competitors in its category, is all readily available. The challenge is that this data is hard to aggregate and is spread across a limitless number of disparate data sources.
This brings me back to my excitement about Helio which addresses an acute need within early-stage consumer private investing.
What is Helio?
Helio analyzes billions of data points across more than one million brands, providing unparalleled insights into breakthrough companies, industry patterns and trends. All of this data is organized into proprietary models that mimic how an investor would evaluate an opportunity and predict its future success, including industry categorization, financial performance, distribution, brand and management team.
At the same time, it is important to acknowledge that Helio isn’t perfect — and it never will be. The nature of machine learning is that the models are constantly improving, and Helio is no exception. The more data that Helio gathers across its proprietary set of sources, the smarter it will become.
Why Helio Matters
Helio clearly has benefits that relate directly to sourcing by creating a more efficient, unbiased way to predict which brands will win. These efficiencies allow CircleUp to spend less time boiling the ocean to identify which brands will succeed, and more time building strong relationships with entrepreneurs to help ensure that they will succeed. But what’s even more exciting is how it can unlock value for the entire entrepreneur and investor ecosystem through prescriptive analytics.
Prescription is arguably the most advanced stage of machine learning: It is not just the prediction of what will happen, but rather, why it will happen. With this capability, Helio will be able to provide data-driven recommendations and insights for key decisions that our partner companies may be evaluating. For example, when should a company consider launching a new product extension? Which channel should they enter next? How can they design their overall product packaging to maximize ROI? These are just a few of the potential strategic questions that Helio aims to answer. In my opinion, this prescriptive capability will revolutionize private investing and redefine what it means to add value in early-stage consumer.
Walking the Walk
CircleUp is a startup in itself, continually iterating and improving on how we can best serve entrepreneurs. Through our own learnings, CircleUp has developed a deep empathy for the challenges that inherently come along with building a company. Our commitment to our entrepreneurs comes from having walked the walk. Our partnership coupled with powerful insights from Helio allows CircleUp to become an unmatched advocate. I look forward to working with these breakthrough brands to do something that nobody else has done before.