Emerging Spaces: How Jenna Bono is helping identify new opportunities for PitchBook’s data

Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with Jenna Bono, lead product manager, at PitchBook, the leading financial data provider covering the global venture capital, private equity and public markets that’s headquartered here in Seattle. Jenna will be part of an amazing group of presenters next Tuesday evening to kick off New Tech’s Seattle events in 2020!

To start, can you tell the New Tech community about PitchBook?

PitchBook is a financial technology company that provides data on the private and public markets. Our platform aggregates hard-to-find financial information about private companies, public companies, investors, exists and much more into a format that provides our clients with transparency into a rather opaque industry. At PitchBook, we’re empowering our users to make better decisions with more confidence faster than they could otherwise if they didn’t have that data.

Who are some of the customers using PitchBook’s platform?

We have a lot of different client types and use cases. For example, venture capitalists looking to raise money or target different investments and value the companies they’re trying to invest in rely on PitchBook. In addition, corporations use our data to understand where a market is going, what markets make sense for their business as they try to grow, or what companies are out there that they’re looking to acquire. We also support limited partners from endowments to pension funds and more.

Would you mind sharing with readers a bit about your role as lead product manager?

I’ve been at PitchBook for two and a half years and I lead our Discovery initiatives, which is one of our core product teams focused on supporting more proactive use cases for our data. This includes everything from tracking a market and watching where it’s headed to understanding how to segment out a landscape or identifying new opportunities that are challenging to uncover. We’re trying to make it easier for our users get to where they’re trying to go – or perhaps where they didn’t even know they were trying to go.

Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’re planning to share at our event next week?

I’m going to talk about a new feature that we released in October called Emerging Spaces. Emerging Spaces helps our users identify nascent investment opportunities ahead of the curve. We all know everyone wants to be first to market but understanding where to look, what to pay attention to and what shows the most promise can be a big challenge for our users. And it’s also very time consuming.

Given that PitchBook already tracks the startup ecosystem, clients typically ask, “what are you seeing?” and “what’s the next big thing?” It was a natural place for us to try and solve that problem and help our users identify those opportunities or what may be a threat to their business and really make sense of those trends. A challenge we heard from our users is that even if you can identify a new space or a new trend, it can be really difficult to quantify that trend – especially early on – and understand if and when it’s a relevant to your business.

In the presentation I’ll be talking about that feature and insights into why and how we built it, as well as some paths we took to solve these problems. It can be easy to get swept up in a direction – especially as you’re building new technology and trying to go in a new direction with a product – so it’s really important to stay focused on your user, their pain points and what you’re trying to solve for them. I’ll also discuss how to make sure the new technology you’re building resonates with that user.

What are some of the interesting different emerging spaces you’re tracking at this time?

One that’s interesting but doesn’t get a lot of attention is insect-based foods, which is focused on alternative and more sustainable protein sources such as cricket flour. It’s really surprising how big the space is and how many companies there are already. It’s not something that’s top of mind for most people, so seeing how large it is in relation to other consumer spaces is pretty interesting. We’re also tracking tech spaces from post-quantum cryptography to LIDAR, which has implications for autonomous vehicles and carbon capture and removal on the energy side.

Any other interesting emerging spaces you’re monitoring here in the Northwest?

Yeah, two that come to mind are digital freight brokerages and ghost kitchens. Another is autonomous deliveries. We’re tracking the use of both ground and air-based drones to facilitate that last mile of delivery in urban areas. To see a group of 29 startups doing innovative things in that space is interesting.

What’s ahead for PitchBook in 2020?

We’re continuing to build on the releases and themes that we started last year. You’ll see more in that space to support proactive use cases for our data. For example, getting more analysis and insight on top of the data we already provide and making it easier to extract meaningful insights and analysis in interesting ways. On the product side we have an ambitious, exciting roadmap full of problems and challenges to solve, like Emerging Spaces. There’ll be a lot of cool features to come in 2020!

Anything else you’d like the New Tech community to know?

Yes! We are hiring, so we’re looking for great people in the Seattle area and our other offices in San Francisco, New York and London.

Thanks so much for your time today, Jenna! I can’t wait to hear your presentation at New Tech Seattle next Tuesday, Jan. 14 at Thinkspace (1700 Westlake Ave. N., Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98109).

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