touts prize-winning app by classmates Rapp and Ghai

Reporter David Rosenbaum of highlights the prize-winning open-source financial application created by Pranav Ghai ’93 and Alex Rapp ’93.

The app, known as Calcbench, recently won the $20,000 grand prize in the XBRL Challenge, a contest to build an application using SEC filing data, which is formatted to the XBRL standard (“eXtensible Business Reporting Language).”

Calcbench is truly a “handy-dandy calculator,” Rosenbaum writes.

Pranav Ghai ’93, co-founder of Calcbench.

By typing a company’s ticker symbol into the browser-based calculator, a user sees a firm’s SEC filing information. When a user clicks on any number, the calculator displays changes over time in various financial categories, such as inventory or accounts payable. A user can also compare those results between companies.

“The quickest and easiest way to work with SEC filing data.”

Last year, Ghai and Rapp gave their 140-character description of Calcbench to BizSpark, a Microsoft initiative to support software startups: Calcbench is “a free online platform to retrieve, analyze and share public financial data. The quickest and easiest way to work with SEC filing data.”

Rapp tells that he and Ghai believe that the tool could give CFOs “a clearer view of how their filings will look to the investor community, as well as enabling them to more easily benchmark suppliers or partners.

Alex Rapp ’93, co-founder of Calcbench.

The startup is based at Dogpatch Labs, a venture-funded incubator for tech startups with labs in Cambridge, Mass., and New York City, as well as Palo Alto, Calif., and Dublin.

Ghai, based in New York, and Rapp, in Cambridge, have access to the labs in both cities (“though Alex uses it MUCH more than I do,” Ghai says) and they use Skype too.

Communications technology has been key. “We probably couldn’t have done this [startup] as efficiently five or ten years ago,” Ghai says.

Their both Bates math majors. Ghai, the team’s systems and quantitative expert, earned a master’s degree in applied mathematics from New York University and has extensive experience in the financial services field as an analyst and consultant.

Rapp, the strategist, earned an M.B.A. at Boston University. He has executed a number of analysis and innovation projects in the technology, communications and mobile/wireless fields and is the founder of FilmBoston, a film and video production company.