Every week, I try to give myself an hour or two to surf the web and do research on companies and news that I might not otherwise come across in the regular contingent of sites and publications I peruse (don't ask -- it's probably upwards of 150 now). While I could probably put this time to better concrete writing or billable use, I often find that through various in-the-moment paths I take from different research and web surfing expeditions, I discover ideas and companies I'd otherwise miss out on learning about before others and ultimately, sharing on these virtual pages first.
One such organization is Cortera, an upstart in the credit and supply risk world that I came across when attempting to look for new information sources like this in the supplier risk management area. Cortera represents perhaps the most interesting and revolutionary competitor to D&B I've yet seen in the credit reporting and supply risk content space. They're small today, but potentially have a very strong offering on their hands, especially in the SMB supplier space.
After doing some quick digging on Cortera -- in my research, it turned out one of their major investors and board members is also an investor in a friend's company -- I reached out to their VP of Marketing, Alex Cote. We quickly traded emails and within a week had set up a second call with the CEO, Jim Swift, a veteran of the risk management market, so that I could learn more and dig into the potential of the product in the supply risk area. I came away from these initial discussions with a better understanding of Cortera's past as well as where they appear headed in the future -- not to mention how they might be able to help companies looking for risk information on their suppliers.
The history of Cortera goes back over fifteen years to its original founding. At that point in time, the company called itself eCredit and was focused entirely on the commercial credit business (as opposed to both buyer and supplier risk). To accelerate their growth -- and after going through various iterations on the core business model -- eCredit purchased a credit bureau that focused on the transportation arena. Then, eCredit used this business as a springboard to jump beyond credit reporting on the logistics supply chain, building a broader a business model that began to look like a more transparent, flexible and less expensive version of D&B.
And in the supply chain world, they're just coming out of a relative stealth mode. Earlier this fall, eCredit changed their name to Cortera and launched a complimentary community driven company rating model that has so far received positive attention from multiple sources in the credit industry (but that is not yet widely used among procurement and supply chain professionals). They're just starting to drive more awareness for their supply risk products, including publishing a monthly Supply Chain Risk Index that I linked to at the beginning of this column. However, they have not yet productized their offerings in either the risk or credit area outside of company reports. For example, there's no equivalent as of yet to the D&B SER score, however I suspect this will follow at some point in the future.
Today, companies can buy reports on suppliers that profile their overall financial, credit leveraging and related information. Membership, which includes access to a certain number of reports, costs between $29-$249 per month. Or anyone can log onto the site and buy a single company report for $3.00. Companies that contribute trade data to Cortera get a discount on whatever they buy. Cortera has information and can produce financial health scores on over 20 million US companies / office locations today, maintaining both demographic and financial information on this group. They shared with me that this information tends to be more robust on companies in the manufacturing, distribution, retail and transportation business lines -- at least so far. Moreover, they're not charging for all of it -- the demographic data as well as community ratings and company news are available for free to anyone who joins the Cortera community.
Stay tuned for further analysis of Cortera later this week, including how their approach can lead to more accurate results in smaller and mid-size companies. I'm also planning on speaking to some of their reference users leveraging their information to analyze their suppliers' health and I'll report back what I find. But in the meantime, if you're curious to give D&B a run for their supply risk money by seeing a different alternative in the content space, why not plunk down $3.99 and see what you get. It's as easy as going to Cortera's website and signing up. Or, check out their free community ratings and supplier demographic information. They're not 100% yet, but it's a novel and hopefully quite useful effort in the end.