Jeff LoCastro: A Remarkable Record of Developing Companies
In the era of personalization, shouldn’t decisioning also be personalized? To understand this concept Jeff LoCastro — Founder & CEO at Neener Analytics pioneered the concept of human-based data. His idea was always to “humanize” the data and use only data that is unique and individual to a specific human being throughout the decision chain.
“What if you could sit each customer down with a psychologist and ask them, “are you really going to pay us back?” Because that’s the question, right? The question is not CAN they, the question is WILL they”
In an interview conducted between Insights Success and Jeff LoCastro, he discussed using today’s technology to decision people the way people used to be decisioned, how it all started, and the concept of Human Data. Below are the highlights of the interview:
What led to the inception of the company?
I lived in China for two years and about 6-months before coming home, I made a list of the first things I had to do when I got back. As my California Driver’s License had expired while I was out of the country, that was the first thing on my list. I wondered why was that? How had that made #1. I still knew how to drive. So why was that #1 on my list? I wondered, “So, I was only ‘valid’ if the California Department of Motor Vehicles said I was?” That’s insane. How did my grandparents’ function without walking around with their ID all the time?” How was my grandfather able to get a loan? or whatever, without a wallet full of government ID’s or even a credit score? He was able to do it because his banker, for example could say, “I know you!” the banker knew my grandfather’s story. And where is that story being told? Social Media. Neener Analytics was born.
Describe your company and its cutting-edge solutions which addresses all the needs of your customers.
What if you could sit each customer down with a psychologist and ask them, “are you really going to pay us back?” Because that is the question, right? The question is not CAN they, the question is WILL they.
We’ve developed a regulatory compliant AI-based financial risk decisioning technology using 1-click social media or any media used socially to help lenders better decision and understand specific individual risk outcomes for thin-file, no-file, and credit challenged consumers. 1-click AI-based financial risk decisioning technology using Small Data.
Better decisioning thin-file, no-file, the credit challenged and increasing Financial Inclusion, is not a “data” problem. It’s a “Human” problem. Lenders don’t want to know if the consumer’s “data” is going to pay them back; they want to know if the CONSUMER is going to. Which is why we have pioneered Human-Data and created the branch called Human-Data Science™.
Could you throw some light on your mission and vision statement?
There was always a lot of talk about “Big Data.” And everybody cheered it. But big data is not a new concept. It’s been around for a hundred years and it’s pretty basic stuff. But most people don’t really know what it is. Essentially, big data are aggregations or bins of motivations, behaviors, or affinities. And everyone you think that exhibits those motivations, behaviors, or affinities get tossed into that bin. But what does it mean? Well, you’re not really sure so you need more aggregations and bins to toss people into. Basically, big data is the practice of, “I don’t know you, but I know people like you.” What a horrible way to make a decision or form an opinion about someone!
In fairness, big data is a perfectly acceptable way to make, for example, marketing decisions. But it is a terrible way to understand authentic outcomes, especially financial risk outcomes. Big data by its very nature creates disparate impact. There had to be a better way.
Before big data models, how did people make (accurate) decisions about other individual human beings? How did my grandfather get his first home loan back in 1940? He just walked into the bank, said he wanted a home loan, and the banker said, Yes. I know you.” The keywords are: I. Know. You. But how did he know? The banker didn’t have a lifetime record of all my grandfather’s transactions. And he didn’t have a collection of his complete payment history. But he KNEW my grandfather would pay him back. That banker knew this based on the conversations and communications he had with him over time. He knew this by having listened to how my grandfather talked about the things in his life: his words and his communications. Exactly what human beings do with other human beings.
This is the innovation, except not using big data. This is not sentiment analysis or Likes & Friends or Key words or phrases. We have cracked the code on Small Data. And Small Data = I know you.
Describe in detail the work culture and the values that drive your company.
Leaders don’t lead alone. I think the most important job of any leader is building the team; the #1 priority is putting great people in the right place to succeed. Great leaders attract talented people and put them in a position to win.
I don’t like to put too many boundaries on people and what we do. People should not be afraid to make mistakes. When your daily task is innovation and not caretaking, if people are “afraid” you at worst stagnate and die or at best move super-slow and fall behind . . . and die.
- Hire only people that have shared values. I’d rather have the second-best player who shares our values than the best player who doesn’t.
- Give people freedom to make mistakes. Encourage failure (so-to-speak). When people aren’t afraid to fail, they try all kinds of crazy things.
What is your idea of Corporate Social Responsibility?
I think people make that idea more complex than it needs to be. Ideally the business itself is creating value for people, the economy, and the community, filling a void. And regardless of the business or industry, treat everyone in the community as if they are customers. Because no matter what you sell, what you build, or what you scale; good businesses touch everyone somehow directly or indirectly. Because the true measure of a man (and a company) is how well he treats people who can’t do anything for him. My CSR philosophy flows from that.
What are your company’s future aspirations? What strategies are you undertaking to achieve those goals?
We are really pioneering the idea that the consumer is their own data. And the consumer as their own source of data is the future of all consumer engagement. We are currently in 11 countries and I see us owning specific market regions in the next 10 years. We’ve already built out 2 product lines, each delivering 5 decisioning products. We have another line slated for 2021 and are on track for a new line each of the next 5-years while continuing to expand our decisioning capabilities.
We’ll have offices globally connecting banks, lenders, insurance companies, real estate companies and others with 4-billion currently invisible consumers globally.