The Works Demo Day 3(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting companies competing in this year’s “The Works” growth accelerator operated by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center {KEC}. The teams will have their “Demo Day” on September 20 as part of the second annual “Innov865 Week.” To register, click here.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

The name a Knoxville start-up has adopted is the Latin word for the tulip poplar tree which also serves as a perfect metaphor for the company’s focus.

“The tulip poplar grows through a massive root system that can expand out to 500 feet,” Jeremy Floyd, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lirio, explains. “That’s what we are doing . . . working under the surface using machine learning and data analytics to sprout insights and action.”

The new company leverages a core behavioral platform perfected for the utility industry under the name of Fiveworx and expands that expertise to serve financial advisors with a product branded as Finworx.

“The parent (Lirio) has the core technology,” Floyd says. “We apply it into sectors where we can improve outcomes for our client’s clients.”

He describes Lirio’s technology as the “central integration platform” and says it can do much of the work in helping energy utilities and financial advisors to more effectively communicate with their customers. Yet, that alone is not enough.

“You don’t want an algorithm to determine your fate,” Floyd says of the ultimate client. “You want a human interaction. It’s really human touch with the value add of machine learning.”

For now, Lirio has identified opportunities for both products. Specifically, with utility companies that want to incentivize individual consumers to change their energy usage patterns and financial management firms that want to have a client service advantage over their competitors.

Floyd says expansion into other sectors is likely because of the unique extensibility of the core platform that is based on three key factors:

  • An outcome we are trying to help our clients to improve. These clients include utility companies and financial advisors that have a known, well-defined set of customers and a specific goal or set of goals that can be advanced through the behavioral communication tool.
  • Lirio’s proven understanding of how to motivate individuals to change their behavior, based on the goals of the client, linked with the client’s established database of contacts.
  • Lirio’s deep industry expertise.

Floyd says Lirio acquired the core technology from Northshore Management Company which had secured a majority interest in Fiveworx about a year ago. Part of the rationale for the initial acquisition by Northshore Management was the opportunity to leverage the Fiveworx platform and the financial management expertise of BPV Capital Management into the new Finworx product.

“If we expand into a new vertical, it would likely be through an acquisition,” Floyd says, noting that the acquisition would bring domain expertise that would effectively leverage the core technology that currently drives both Fiveworx and Finworx.

Regular readers of have followed the development of Fiveworx from the days when it was known as Do Five Things. The concept was to use machine learning to help drive the right messaging at the appropriate time to realize the desired energy efficiency outcome by the customers of a utility.

Patrick Hunt, then Chief Executive Officer of Fiveworx and now Lirio’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, explained how research had proven that getting consumers to take five discrete actions toward energy efficiency would result in a sustainable ongoing pattern.

“What Patrick did with Fiveworx was automate and dynamically send the right message,” Floyd says. It is that underlying knowledge of behavioral change that is also being applied by Finworx.

“We’re taking all understanding discerned about a client and driving behavior change with the ‘best next’ action by the financial advisor,” Floyd explains. “The power of machine learning is to surface insights which is great, but the real value is to take them one step further and turn them into an action.”

Floyd sees growth opportunities in both product areas and has brought Ryan Gooch onto the team to help with business development for Fiveworx. The former Director of Innovation with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development is now serving as Director of Customer Success at Fiveworx.

“I see opportunities to expand beyond efficiency into more general utility communications,” Floyd says.

On the financial advisory side, he wants to use Finworx to help its users “increase their wallet share of clients’ total investments.”

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