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Eugene Grinberg Builds Solve Advisors To Provide Fixed Income Pricing Data Platform – Forbes

The bond market (total debt outstanding) stood at $119 trillion worldwide and $46 trillion for the U.S. market in 2021, according to Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). Yet tracking pricing for the tens of thousands of offerings being brought to market every day remains a challenge for both buyers and sellers.
Eugene Grinberg and Gerard Nealon decided to do something about it with the creation of Solve. The company amasses and sources fixed income market activity from unstructured data sources providing real-time visibility into over 10,000,000 quotes from hundreds of sources across 100,000 unique securities a day.
This founder’s journey story is based on my interview with Solve CEO Eugene Grinberg.
Solve Co-Founder and CEO Eugene Grinberg.
The idea had its start at the niche pricing service Red Pine Advisors where the pair worked in analytics developing pricing models for difficult to value fixed income securities like mortgage-backed securities. “We convinced the management team to allow us to try to commercialise that product, which gave us a lot of exposure to potential customers in financial services,” says Grinberg.
Grinberg and Nealon then met with both the buy-side and sell-side potential customers to sell their model, but were unsuccessful. But they took their failure as an opportunity to learn and analyse what went wrong. “As we met more by-side, more sell-side market participants, we kept hearing that price discovery was challenging, having confidence in the pricing that you were putting out,” says Grinberg.
The status quo in fixed income has been that the sell-side would communicate pricing on many thousands of fixed income securities on a daily basis to their buy-side customers. “If you’re a by-side, if you were a trader, Portfolio Manager or manager at a hedge fund, your life was seeing many thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of emails on a daily basis, with many thousands of securities that were being offered by the sell-side at various prices. And you really had no effective way of capturing that data. Because it was all in email, random chats and attachments and Excel spreadsheets. So the idea of consuming that data in any systematic way, was thought to be not feasible,” says Grinberg.
Undeterred by the challenge, Gringberg and Nealon had the idea to build a platform that could read those messages and extract pricing from unstructured mass messages in a systematic, real time way. And once pricing was digitised, it would allow you to search for bonds and visualise trends in the market, providing more confidence in the decisions buyers and sellers are you’re making, because it was backed by data.
Leveraging natural language processing, AI and machine learning to extract data from messages, from the sell-side and buy-side was the first step. Next they developed a mechanism for customers to contribute data, in an anonymous fashion, to create a database that’s available to the larger marketplace, allowing the industry to operate more efficiently. They also incorporated commentary and data from the accounting services that are required to opine on the on the fair value of illiquid assets.
“In early 2011, we made the decision that we going to leave our current job and start Solve. It was scary, because we didn’t come from much financially. Both of us started our careers as as programmers, so we felt a little bit like outsiders in the sense that we didn’t have a strong network of relationships. Somehow we got the confidence and, being a little bit naive, we went off on our own. And that’s where we started building this platform,” says Grinberg.
They had no outside investors and bootstrapped the business expecting to finance the company through incoming business within the first few months. After six months and still no customers, they survived with a modest angel investment. It took nine months to land their first account, which turned out to be a large, well-recognised investment firm. “I remember the day well, it was May 17, of 2012. And just having the confidence that someone was willing to pay for something you built was a big deal,” says Grinberg.
While the industry historically operated on trust, now market participants could trust, but verify through the Solve platform.
Today Solve is growing 40-50% year-over-year for the past several years, with customers like Morgan Stanley, Jeffries, T.Rowe Price and PWC, according to Grinberg. While the company was growing, they realised that further growth would require the hiring of more people with experience that could help them scale. In 2019, they partnered with Credit Suisse Next Investors for their A Round financing after eight years of organic growth.
Then in December 2021, private equity firm Charlesbank’s Technology Opportunities Fund invested $80 million in Solve taking a majority interest in the company, with both Grinberg and Nealon still maintaining significant ownership and remain as the company’s leadership.
Grinberg grew up in Ukraine in a city southwest of Kyiv. His family moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1992 when he was 12 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “My family is of Jewish descent and had a lot of concerns over what the future was going to look like,” says Grinberg. The family joined many others who came to Brooklyn to escape eastern Europe during that turbulent time, so Grinberg didn’t feel quite so much as an outsider.
Back in Ukraine, Grinberg’s father was an engineer with an entrepreneurial side. He started an engineering firm designing air and water filtration systems for industrial enterprises. “I’m sure for him, it was an incredibly difficult decision to move, because he was starting to be successful and all of a sudden, at the age of 43, he found himself in a foreign place where he couldn’t speak the language. Difficult for me to imagine having the courage to do that,” says Grinberg.
Once in the U.S. and with little prospect for starting another engineering firm, his father pivoted from engineering to programming, providing young Grinberg with access to programming books. “I just started picking them up and taught myself how to how to program when I was about 15 or so,” says Grinberg. He and his dad then took on consulting projects together. Then with the influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, they started a business to teach them programming.
He attended Copper Union in New York where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer engineering and after stints at ACA and Duff & Phelps, he would later join Red Pine Advisors as a head of analytics were he met and later teamed up with Nealon to form Solve in 2011.
As for the future? “Having a larger, more experienced team has been phenomenal. Bringing in more price transparency creates better confidence all around. We feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface,” concludes Grinberg.

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