Shaun Weston talks to Zac Sheffer from Elsen about data analysis, machine learning, engineering, financial services and the startup scene in Boston.

On the new episode of the BankNXT Fintech Podcast, my guest Zac Sheffer, CEO and co-founder of Elsen, talks about how this Platform-as-a-Service company got started. We dig into data analysis, machine learning, engineering, financial services and the startup scene in Boston.

The Elsen nPlatform, according to its own website, “helps large financial institutions harness, explore and use big data without a team of engineers”. Zac explains how the platform works and how the company makes money.

“Our Platform-as-a-Service is licensed to clients,” says Zac. “We make money two ways with that. We have a base licensee, as well as pay per use. We try to keep it straightforward for our clients, and push these SaaS models into an industry that hasn’t really done it as much in the past.

“There aren’t a lot of ‘Platform-as-a-Services’ in financial services. Financial services is kind of an old and slow-moving industry! You’re starting to see on more generalised enterprise companies … SaaS models starting to come in, especially over the last few years, but not so much in financial services. There needs to be more innovation, not just from the technologies, but also from the business side within financial services as well.”

Zac set Elsen up with Justin White and Ryan Johnson in 2013. He shares the many pain points of getting Elsen up and running, including the technology hurdles and the time it took to implement their ideas.

“It’s something that needs to happen,” he says. “In a previous life, I was working at Credit Suisse writing financial models for them. I went into that role – you know, Credit Suisse, one of the largest investment banks in the world, probably doing absolutely amazing stuff – but I was absolutely shocked by how unsophisticated they were from a technology perspective. That’s really the state of an industry overall. Technology has changed so much in the last five years, but if you look at some of the largest firms in the world, they’re using technology from two decades ago! Something has to change in this industry, and we want to be that change.”

About Boston, which is not actually where all three co-founders come from, Zac is generous with his praise: “I think Boston has done a fantastic job, especially of the last couple of years, of fostering a community, especially on the financial technology side. There’s a number of programmes specifically for fintech companies, my favourite being the FinTech Sandbox, which we’ve been a part of for a number of years.”

Thanks again for listening in, and I apologise for the sound quality of my mic in this episode. All my fault. I’m always open to discussion about who you think I should reach out to next, especially if they’re doing something exciting in fintech. Please leave your comments below, or contact me on Twitter. You can catch other interviews on this page.

 You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

About the author

Shaun Weston

Shaun Weston is Senior Editor of BankNXT and Backbase, and a creative content provider specialising in digital projects, marketing and social media. He has worked with businesses that focus on editorial strategy for online or print, consumer or B2B, and his work includes The Economist, SAS, Oracle, Future Publishing, and Backbase.

Leave a Comment