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Jeff LoCastro, Founder and CEO, Neener Analytics

Jeff LoCastro: An Epitome of Innovative Leadership

As the CEO of Neener Analytics, it’s a race every day for Jeff LoCastro. Jeff believes that great CEO’s have the ability to constantly switch gears and move seamlessly from one discipline to the other. And in his career, based on his ability to extract unique insights from social media, Jeff pioneered the first ever effective CPA (cost-per-action) model which became the basis of all future social analytics models, as well as the foundation for all social media monetization.
In an interview with Insights Success, Jeff sheds some light on how Neener Analytics is fundamentally altering the analytics paradigm forever.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Describe your company and its products which address all the needs of your customers.
We’ve come up with a solution for 1-click AI-based financial risk decisioning technology using Human Data; a regulatory compliant AI-based financial risk decisioning technology using social media or any media used socially to help lenders, insurance companies, and all risk-based businesses better decision and understand specific, individual, risk outcomes for thin-file, no-file and credit-challenged consumers.
In addition, we are building a Delivery Platform around our Decisioning Platform core. The Platform will engage the potential borrower at multiple points of contact including POS using Web, Postal, Email, Chat, QR, Mobile, App, or Text/SMS and include all the KYC including facial recognition, income verification, and employment validation.
What makes your organization a preferred choice of your clients over the competition?
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.
What is your idea of impactful leadership? What style of leadership do you personally prefer and have implemented at Neener Analytics?
Leaders don’t lead by themselves.  Leaders lead people. So, I think the most important job of any leader, any CEO, is building that team to lead; 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.
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.
According to you, what essential traits should an entrepreneur possess to thrive in the present-day cutthroat business ecosystem?
Successful entrepreneurs sometimes have their head in the clouds. At least that’s the way it looks to those on the outside looking in as the dreamer is easily misunderstood as someone not connected to “reality.” But they are. Just not the same reality as non-entrepreneurs; the entrepreneur is a professional Dreamer.
Just as a successful entrepreneur is a Dreamer, a dreamer is a Do-er. Successful entrepreneurs are relentless Do-ers. And they will do anything for the dream because the dream and its manifestation is one-and-the-same.
Ok, so now you’ve founded a company. Are you willing to do all the little things regardless of job description? My people have heard me say for years: If the floor is dirty (literally and figuratively) and everyone is busy, grab a broom and start sweeping.
A successful entrepreneur must be a visionary and a visionary is someone who see’s what no one else seems to see. Sometimes a bit of a soothsayer, really.
It’s one thing to think your idea is really cool. It’s another to be passionate. It’s also another thing altogether to be a Believer. Let me tell you: Passion is not enough. A successful entrepreneur has what I call ‘Atomic Passion’; they are a believer who feels their idea, their company, their personal mission on almost a cellular level.
Successful entrepreneur’s love building things. In fact, they get a rush from it. The See-er needs to experience their vision in reality. It’s this builder quality that I have come to call a “driver” quality as it is this appetite for building that propels the entrepreneur.
If not the Dream and the need to Build, then what is the central element that lies that the core of every successful entrepreneur? It’s what I call a “core driver”: the incessant preoccupation with trying to solve problems.
What have you envisioned for your company’s future, in terms of expansion, introduction of new services, and talent acquisition?
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 couple years while continuing to expand our decisioning capabilities.
We’ve budgeted for global offices to connect banks, lenders, insurance companies, real estate companies and others with 4-billion currently invisible consumers globally.