Startups have been providing solutions for a wide array of categories over the past few decades. After taking off in the 1990’s with the widespread use of the internet, tech startups slowed down after the dotcom bubble burst in 2000. While they were slow to pick up speed again in the early 2000’s, and reaching Unicorn status was relatively rare, today they are looked at from a completely different perspective. Globalized business, increased reliance on the internet, a big growth in Venture Capital, and the Covid-19 pandemic have all increased the number and intensity of startups throughout the world.
Countries who had struggling economies before the tech boom have suddenly had an increase in contributions and ideas to the world of technology. India, for example, now has 103 startups with a valuation of $1 billion or more, while Israel, a country with only 9 million citizens, had 24 new unicorns announced in the first half of 2021 alone. In addition, it is the country with the highest number of startups per capita in the world. Startups come in all shapes and sizes and range from mobile gaming to cryptocurrency trading platforms, and can involve both B2B and B2C. Thanks to the fast paced growth of companies, financial categories such as planning and budgeting have had to adapt extremely quickly and many startups have filled this gap. Here are the top 6 FP&A startups that have made a contribution to the efficiency of companies’ finances in different ways and contribute to the list of tools that every CFO should have.
“Our mission at Cube is to empower Finance professionals to become the strategic value-drivers and storytellers in every organization,” said Christina Ross, (founder and CEO of Cube Software) after the startup raised an additional $10 million in Series A funding. Cube Software, who currently focuses on mid-market growth companies, is trying to transform FP&A in a way that many startups have attempted to do over the years- by consolidating and automating data. It is advertised as a “Flexible, scalable solution for everyone,” meaning that collaboration amongst the entire team is key to help consolidate and report key financial info in order to create the most accurate data for budgeting, forecasting, and KPIs. Automation is occurring in all business sectors and it’s time for it to become second nature in financial planning as well.
Datarails was founded in 2015 as an FP&A solution software designed to greatly improve the way finance teams analyze data. Unlike many startups who try to create a new spreadsheet platform in order to go about doing this, Datarails has integrated the service within existing spreadsheets, namely Excel. This means that finance experts don’t have to retrain the entire team to use new software, and instead can continue using Excel the way they are used to. The company has a target audience of the U.S., Canada, and the UK, making their potential influence on the market quite large. With a short implementation time and a user-friendly interface, Datarails has been an extremely popular FP&A solution for SMBs. In addition to consolidating data and saving an incredible amount of time on manual entries, the platform helps create predictions for budgeting, forecasting, GL, TB, sales, or any other organizational system that relies on a spreadsheet. After raising over $50 million, Datarails was named the #1 most promising startup in Israel of 2021 by Globes, the leading business newspaper in the country.
Budgeting is something that every company wants to do more of. If you can save money in one area then it leaves more room for investment and growth in other needs. Fairmarkit makes financial teams’ jobs even easier by saving money before they have to make budgeting decisions. The platform automates the sourcing process within your existing workflows, by providing vendor recommendations, spend analytics, and integrations. It consolidates every aspect of buying decisions to ensure that you are making the right choices and getting the best deal. With increased bids on the click of a button and transparency throughout the entire process, the buyers are free to do more strategic work and less manual inputs. The Boston-based company founded in 2017 has raised $40 million in funding and $70 million in revenue. Its customers, who include Boston Metro (over $100,000 in savings a month from Fairmarkit) and Siemens, simply get more for their purchases without the added headache of second guessing decisions. In fact, Fairmarkit claims that 90% of the requests receive a bid below the benchmark within 4 hours. What better way to create a more efficient budget than by helping the CPO save money before it even needs to be reported to the financial team?
Spice Route Finance
In addition to startups of their own, India has become an outsource powerhouse for tech companies all over the world. From Marketing and IT Support to Customer Service and Engineering, a company can outsource just about every service. Spice Route Finance takes this to the next level and focuses on outsourcing financial services, one of the hardest categories to hire outside of the company. For startups still in the beginning stages, hiring a CFO can be out of the question due to the steep costs, but when the need arises, a financial leader can make all the difference. Spice Route offers virtual CFOs at a fraction of the cost of what a full time one would be, and they offer part time CFOs who can be hired for temporary jobs and specific projects. In addition to saving money, outsourced CFOs can bring experience that is hard to parallel without hiring a top of the line professional. The outside perspectives and experiences are usually a great addition for young startups. Lastly, Spice Route will work with the startup on an individual level to help them realize their potential and position the company as an attractive investment option for VCs. In the world of fast moving tech and quick decisions, an affordable outside expert with experience and a goal oriented mindset can work wonders for any startup’s finances.
New York based startup Hyperscience was founded in 2014 and has helped transform data automation for financial teams. Peter Brodsky the CEO and co-founder described the need for data automation due to the global shortage of engineering talent in which companies simply can’t afford to have employees spending their precious time on manual data entries: “We had always thought of data entry as the artifact of antiquated business processes that would sublimate away with the advent of modern enterprise software. We were wrong. Data entry is actually the inevitable consequence of modernity.” To fix this, Hyperscience was created. The SaaS platform can classify and extract data across complex and difficult to read documents such as PDFs, images, and even handwritten data. Hyperscience is extremely accurate and saves an incredible amount of manpower, especially for companies with large quantities of data across multiple document formats. While this saves time for the whole company, it is especially useful for financial service teams who can spend more time analyzing and less time on manual entries. The company, which targets top public companies and major government entities, raised $80 million in Series D round of funding in October 2020, which came on the heels of 3x year-over-year revenue growth.
Approve, whose parent company is Tipalti, is the youngest of all startups on the list, and was founded in 2019. Despite the relatively short time period, Approve has been able to upgrade the procurement process for organizations by simplifying and customizing the process. The platform enables finance and procurement teams to gain visibility and control over spending, and simultaneously taking away one additional burden in the FP&A process. There are a couple of very attractive features in the platform. One is that it’s extremely customizable and flexible, making it easy to adapt to each individualized scenario. Another is that it’s built for a global scale in regards to currencies and subsidiaries, making the company fitting for the global tendencies of business and finance in today’s world. After raising over $5 million in a short period of time, and being acquired by the incredibly successful parent company Tipalti, Approve.com has a lot of potential for making the lives of finance and procurement teams much smoother.