‘There Was Suddenly So Much We Could Do’ — How AI is Opening Opportunities for Advancement at Tegus

A customer-centric approach guides Tegus’ teams to develop the right features at the right time, and a nimble engineering culture makes responsive and relevant development possible.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Aug. 10, 2023
‘There Was Suddenly So Much We Could Do’ — How AI is Opening Opportunities for Advancement at Tegus
Tegus
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Finding ways to quickly turn challenges into solutions and solutions into opportunities is at the heart of the product-development process at Tegus

The company’s valuable customer insights and its nimble approach to engineering and iterative development enable this process. According to Senior Director of Product Marketing Rachel Barker, a crucial combination of industry position, internal expertise and company culture keeps the investment research platform working at the forefront of what is possible, with ambitions to push the boundaries even further.

“One of the things that’s especially interesting about the space we play in at Tegus is that investors are highly knowledgeable,” Barker said. “They’re monitoring and measuring businesses at a deeper level than any customer I’ve worked with in the past, which means the quality of insight is incredibly astute.”

The result? “Tegus will slow down to ensure the outcome customers find while partnering with us is higher quality, more durable and trustworthy — rather than rush to deliver innovation that doesn’t solve the customer pain point,” Barker said.

Recently, Tegus has leaned into new AI and machine learning capabilities that capitalize on the company’s rich foundation of high-quality data and services, responding to customer needs and increasing the platform’s capacity for advancement.

Built In heard from Barker and two other Tegus leaders about how the company’s nimble, outcomes-oriented culture keeps its platform at the forefront of industry trends.

 

TEGUS’ COMPANY VALUES

  • Learn by doing
  • Dazzle the customer
  • Leave a legacy
  • The best team wins

 

Candid photo of large group of Tegus team members sitting in rows waiting for a presentation to begin, talking and smiling.
Tegus

 

 

Learn by Doing

Vice President of Machine Learning Michelangelo D’Agostino still feels new at Tegus, but since joining the company in January 2023, he has been delivering on a mission of building out new machine learning capabilities.

“What we can do with machine learning and AI has moved quickly the last couple of years,” he said. “We have this amazing proprietary data set of high-quality financial data, and so as we explored what our customers have asked for, new possibilities have emerged.”

One project that D’Agostino and the Tegus team have brought to life was first developed by Lead Software Engineer Alex Kowalczuk during the company’s hackathon.

“As an engineer, my head was spinning when I considered the possibilities of new language model APIs powered by GPT,” Kowalczuk said. “There was suddenly so much we could do that would have been impossible for me to work through six months earlier. I decided I wanted to work on categorizing our content with topic tags.”

 

“There was suddenly so much we could do that would have been impossible for me to work through six months earlier.”

 

Kowalczuk’s team had long wanted to categorize Tegus’ interview data with topic tags, but in the past, the project would have required long manual hours or advanced machine learning to undertake. With new AI APIs in mind, Kowalczuk wanted to use the hackathon to build a proof of concept for how tags could become reality within the platform.

“For two years, we’d been talking about topic tags as an almost impossible project, and suddenly, getting to proof of concept felt like low-hanging fruit,” he said.

 

BIANNUAL HACKATHONS

The tech team at Tegus encourages innovation and collaboration via biannual three-day hackathons, happening every March and September. “It’s a chance to team up with people you might not normally work with across the tech team, and build on any idea related to Tegus that you want,” Kowalczuk said. “This could be a feature prototype, architecture improvement, design proposal — whatever you want.” 

At the end of the three days, teams present their ideas and what they’ve built, and everyone votes for winners in various categories. The projects then go on to either be kept on the back burner in the concept stage or pulled into teams’ roadmaps to ship to customers.

 

After the hackathon, Kowalczuk, D’Agostino and the team found the feature was ready to build out for production — and with a month of finishing touches and product realization, they were able to pilot topic tags in production for clients.

“This project allows investors to zero in on the parts of our content that are most relevant, which is what makes AI most useful for us,” D’Agostino said. “We have an immense amount of high-quality data that continues to grow, and so the AI features we are building are focused on helping our clients access the data most valuable to them.”

Increasing value for the client is a core tenet of Tegus’ work — one taken seriously from day one for the team due to its potential to transform the company’s work on every level.

 

Large group photo of Tegus team on outdoor steps amid city buildings.
Tegus

 

Dazzle the Customer

“One of the most pleasantly surprising things I found when I met our founders, Mike and Tom Elnick, was the clear evidence that they spent a significant amount of time with our customers,” Barker said. “As a company grows, that customer voice can get lost over time. But for Mike and Tom, the mind of the customer sits at the heart of our business.”
 

“The mind of the customer sits at the heart of our business.”

 

For Barker, one question keeps customer empathy at the center of her work: How does this make the customer feel?

“As a high-growth company, our processes can change quickly, but we keep the customer at the center of the conversation,” she said. “We hear constantly, ‘Ask the customer,’ ‘Get out in front of a customer,’ ‘Talk to a customer’ — because as we grow, change and reorganize, processes will change and solutions will change, but the goal remains to offer our customers the product and the value we promise.”

“It’s part of our day-to-day DNA,” D’Agostino confirmed.

When he first joined the company, D’Agostino found himself invited on calls to not only hear and learn from clients, but also to share his insights on AI. The mutual approach to relationship building means that the Tegus team often connects with customers to understand needs and interests, whether regarding a specific product or just to build context around the work users are doing on their own teams.

Kowalczuk noted a similar experience during his onboarding. “You’re probably getting the picture,” he said, “but this is the first company where I was getting such a practical perspective from customers from my first days on the team.”

 

Leave a Legacy

Whether sitting in customer interviews about features, reading customer insights in emails or scrolling through the product feedback Slack channel, Tegus’ team keeps roadmap planning responsive to real needs and opportunities, even while pushing into new frontiers offered by AI.

“The first AI-driven feature we launched was auto-generated summaries of our expert interview transcripts,” D’Agostino noted. “It was at the intersection of what was possible for us to build and what customers were beating the drum for, which helped it percolate up to the top.”

Working to achieve successful launches like these relies on a combination of collaboration and transparency, Kowalczuk said.

“I get to work closely across engineering, design and product,” he explained. “Nobody is in a silo, which helps make Tegus a compelling place to work. I am able to feel connected to the people around me, and we have the space to experiment and innovate.”

For Kowalczuk, his time at the company has been filled with opportunities to stretch into growth projects and ultimately build an array of successful features alongside the team.

“Our philosophy is to try it and see what happens,” he said. “Worst-case scenario is that we learn from feedback and tweak the feature in response. We have this opportunity to build a legacy — while also building great stuff with great people.”

 

Read moreAt Tegus, Scaling The Team Includes Shaping Its Employees’ Growth 

 

The Best Team Wins

As Tegus’ team has grown, finding ways to streamline product lines and empower teams to succeed has been key to successful releases.

“I’m reluctant to share the nickname we use,” Barker said with a laugh as she explained the structure of the aligned teams. “But the term ‘quad pod’ has been used — essentially a product management lead, a UX designer, an engineer and a product marketer make up this team of four.”

By making sure the right people with the right expertise are in the room, Tegus’ teams are able to find a collection of solutions that help clients reach the outcomes they need.

And as the team works in “quad pods” — through hackathons and in response to customer needs — the platform will continue to evolve with new possibilities and opportunities opened up by the next generation of machine learning and AI.

“The product is the proof point,” Barker said. “Product isn’t the thing we sell you — it’s proof of the outcome we are going to deliver for you.”

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Tegus.

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