Originally published by the St. Louis Business Journal
By Nathan Rubbelke – Reporter, St. Louis Business Journal
How do you measure the revenue of a company?
Adding up its sales is the traditional way. But a new St. Louis startup wants to include more information to the equation when determining the worth of a company.
The co-founders of St. Louis data startup Vrity have developed a new tool that measures how sustainability, innovation and equality impact a company’s bottom line. The firm’s newly launched Values Return Index is designed to give companies insight into their so-called “values equity.”
The launch of the company comes at a time when brands are becoming more focused on the values they project to consumers, the startup’s co-founders said. Data published by the company found that 82% of consumers said they would pay more to make a purchase from a company that shares their values.
“Marketing is in the middle of a seismic shift. You’ve heard of the attention economy and the sharing economy — 2020 ushered in the values economy,” the co-founders said.
The product: Vrity has developed the Values Return Index (VRI), which is designed to give a brand insight into their “values equity.” The VRI uses artificial intelligence to score a brand against 20 brand values categories, such as sustainability, equality, joy and innovation, to reveal how much of a brand’s revenue can be attributed to their values. It can tell them what’s working and what’s not.
How it makes money: The VRI is a monthly subscription that shows a brand how their scores are changing over time and how they relate to the rest of their category.
Size of the market: Marketing data is estimated to be a $15 billion industry annually, according to the startup.
Competition: Vrity officials said there are dozens of customer survey or social listening companies, each with a unique spin or niche. However, it asserts its competition is not another data company, but rather inaction by companies. Many brands do not understand the importance of values as a business strategy, the startup said. As more brands turn that corner, the startup believes its data will be more essential to potential customers.
Competitive advantage: The startup said it has a patent pending system that uses artificial intelligence to combine survey data, social media data and brand mentions on professional websites, which is translated to measure financial impact. Vrity officials said its system is a competitive advantage, but that the data it generates sets it apart further. By looking at values data across clients and verticals, the startup said it can put a brand’s results in context for decision-making insights.
Business it could disrupt: The startup said its launch comes as the marketing industry is in the middle of a seismic shift to include more information about a company’s values. Today, consumers care more about what you stand for than what you make, said the startup, adding the values economy represents a new way for brands to differentiate in a world where every marketing lever is moving to a pay-per-click arms race. Brand marketing will evolve from appeasing the algorithms to creating sustainable and ethical brands that go beyond a transactional relationship with the consumer, the startup argues. Vrity is positioning itself as the measurement company for the values economy, saying its data will be a key pillar of brand measurement.
Managers and their background: Jesse Wolfersberger and Chris Copeland are Vrity’s co-founders. Wolfersberger is the former chief data officer for Maritz and a self-described huge data nerd who has previously worked for GroupM and in the front office of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. Copeland is an advertising veteran with 25 years of experience, including leading GroupM’s digital practices (where Copeland and Wolfersberger met).