Four years ago, when former traders Lars Tvede and Michael Stennicke first dreamed of a new financial-data smartphone app, the big obstacle was how to get real-time data at low prices. Stennicke visited bourses from Sarajevo to New York. They negotiated. They cajoled. The result: CarryQuote, a fledgling service that costs as little as $20 a month — about 1% of the price of a typical Bloomberg subscription.
The key to CarryQuote's low price — and costs — is that it doesn't stream data. Instead, you get snapshots on demand. The volume of information that CarryQuote buys from its 80-plus sources (including 53 stock exchanges) is tiny compared with streaming services such as Bloomberg and Reuters. But even the most basic subscription can deliver much richer data, such as price charts for futures and commodities, than you can get from freebies such as Google Finance's app.
Firms including Spain's Infobolsa now provide the service to clients as a bonus feature. But Gartner analyst David Schehr thinks the potential audience is limited: "How big is the market for people who want to trade so rapidly and constantly?"
Tvede believes the market's there for what he's really selling: freedom. "I can be skiing, walking in the forest, or having lunch with my wife," he says, "and just feel that I'm in control."
A version of this article appeared in the March 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.