It is a truism that many talented technologists are not especially talented businesspeople. So if you have an idea for a technology solution, and want to build a business around your idea, where do you turn for the kind of help that can enable you to turn your funky tech startup into a serious up ‘n’ coming competitor?
One option for many startups is a company like Finmark. Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina and founded earlier this year, Finmark specializes in providing startups with the resources they need to build and manage their financial plans. By providing insights into everything from runway and hiring to fundraising and reporting, Finmark makes the task of financial modeling that much easier for startups.
We caught up with Finmark co-founder and CEO Rami Essaid recently by email to learn more about the company and how it helps startups become better businesses.
What is the problem that Finmark solves – and who does it solve it for?
Rami Essaid: Finmark is a technology company that provides financial planning and modeling software for startups. Finmark’s platform takes complex financial concepts and calculations and distills them down into a simple-to-use interface so companies can easily update, inspect, and share their financial metrics.
Startup founders, from pre-revenue companies to pre-IPO companies, rely on Finmark to align teams, drive collaboration, reduce costs and resources, and build the next generation of great startups.
What makes Finmark’s solution better than others? What functionality does it have that sets it apart?
Essaid: Most startups use Excel for financial modeling, but spreadsheets are poor for collaboration and version control is a nightmare. Finmark eliminates the need for complex spreadsheets with a simple-to-use platform, so founders can easily create, update, and share their financial plans.
Finmark was built so that anyone, not just finance professionals, can easily make and update a financial model without having to spend weeks laboring over complicated spreadsheets. While Excel-based spreadsheets have a half-life of about a month, founders can have immediate access to Finmark and know that their financials are updated regularly.
Many founders also rely on templated models, but we help to create customized models in minutes, taking the components that are driving your business and allowing them to be linked together seamlessly.
What in your background gave you the confidence to launch the company?
Essaid: As a now three-time startup founder, I’ve lived through the complications of Excel-based financial models. At my former company Distil Networks, I tried to fix these issues so many times that I came up with the general idea of Finmark so that other startup founders didn’t have to go through what I went through.
At the time, it was only an idea that was put on the back burner, but when the time came for a new venture, I knew that I wanted to create Finmark. As a founder who understands the pain of financial modeling, my experiences have helped shape the company to ensure it will help others out there like me.
My goal is to help startup founders know they are building their company on a solid foundation. I believe that, as a result of Finmark, more good companies will survive.
What adjustments have you had to make as a result of the COVID-19 crisis?
Essaid: As a company launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been fortunate to be agile in our efforts, where we haven’t had to make many adjustments. The majority of our employee base is working from home, and this will likely continue to be the case once the pandemic has subsided. There have been numerous adjustments we’ve had to make, but we’ve taken them in stride, relying on new forms of technology to help us out.
We even participated in the Y Combinator Summer 2020 Demo Day, and while it wasn’t the major event many are used to, we still had the opportunity to pitch our startup via Zoom to more than a thousand attendees.
Finmark recently raised $5 million in seed funding. How important was this to the company and what will it enable Finmark to do?
Essaid: I’m extremely excited about our seed funding, as we saw an incredible amount of interest from investment funds and angel investors alike, with more than 14 firms and 30 angels participating in the round. This level of interest underscores the need for a tool like Finmark, as many of these investors want to move away from the complex Excel spreadsheet modeling that is relied upon today.
Most of the funds will be asking that their portfolio companies use Finmark to stay on track, and the majority of our angel investors are or will be using Finmark to track their own financials, too.
You mentioned that Finmark is a recent graduate of Y Combinator’s Summer 2020 cohort. What was that experience like?
Essaid: It was a great experience overall. For us, our Y Combinator goals were two-fold. We gained a ton of experience with the accelerator, but also used the connections to introduce companies to Finmark. As the majority of the cohort were founders and CEOs in need of a tool like Finmark, I was able to sign on dozens of my peers as beta users. These users are both our target audience, and are also highly involved with the investor community, who will also be introduced to Finmark via the financial models created by our software.
What can we expect from Finmark in the year to come?
Essaid: Our first and primary goal is to build and perfect the platform, however we plan to expand our capabilities in the year to come in order to become the system of record for startups. A financial model is typically the central hub for all company data, including marketing and sales expenses, payroll, revenue, and more. With Finmark, companies will have a centralized access point for all data, where we can then help to provide benchmarks based on other companies in their respective industry, and ultimately help companies grow.
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