Rob Reid: I’m going to start with a very mundane area, and then we’ll go all the way to the incredible. Today, a lot of our customers still do some things the old way. If you’re an accounts payable accountant, you’ll probably divide up all the people you’re going to pay alphabetically. You’re going to pay A through M on Wednesdays and N through Z on Thursdays. It’s a very common practice.
We try to inject new thoughts, but that’s what a lot of people still do. With artificial intelligence, the system will be looking at, “With this particular invoice, we can get an additional 10% discount off of the invoice if we pay within 30 days. We’ll be going to that accounts payable clerk on a Monday and say, “Today is the 29th day. If we go ahead and pay this invoice today, we can save 10%. I’ve >>>
According to an Allied Market Research report, the global cloud-based payroll software market is estimated to grow 7% annually to $10.3 billion by 2023. San Francisco-based Gusto is a Billion Dollar Unicorn in the industry.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to 2016 when you were raising money. How much did you raise, from whom, and what were the metrics with which you raised?
Cooper Harris: Halfway through the year, we presented on the stage at a very large event. We got a ton of inbound interest from about 400 of the largest agencies in the world, which was such an eye-opener for us. After that, we did those Fortune 500 campaigns that I mentioned earlier.
Q4 was an awesome time for us. We had bigger clients paying bigger money. That is when we started to look to people for a fundraise. Most folks say don’t do it in Q4. I found it to be the opposite. Maybe partly because it’s a natural closing date. Secondly, as a >>>
During this week’s roundtable, we had as a guest Shuly Galili, Founding Partner, UpWest Labs, who talked to us about pre-seed and seed investments in the Israel – Silicon Valley corridor.
As for pitching, we had Balaji Renukumar from Palo Alto, California, pitching Sensfix, an IOT-based venture addressing the repair and maintenance of street lights and other infrastructure assets. Very cool company, and a great example of how various eco-systems are collaborating to produce new startups. This one has been accelerated in India and in Amsterdam, before showing up in Palo Alto.
We also discussed our new partnership with EIT Health to accelerate over 100 European Startups. More on this coming soon.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s do a few case studies of your portfolio. We can do three or four of these. Take us through the evolution of these companies. When did they come to you? What did they have? What brought your confidence and what happened as they evolved?
Kanwaljit Singh: Let me a take an example of a company called Mama Earth, which targets the baby and the mom. The company is about two years old. It was founded by a couple when they realized that there was not a good choice of products they could use on their child across various personal care requirements. They decided to start this company for not just themselves but for millions of parents who are looking for safer products for their child. >>>
Sramana Mitra: One of the trends in your industry is, cloud software companies are starting to offer FinTech solutions. I wrote an article about Intuit very recently. It was a few days ago. It’s called “What is Intuit’s most promising long-term opportunity?” This was an analysis of how they’re offering this QuickBooks financing product whereby they’re basically lending money to their constituency of businesses who qualify.
They’re measuring the qualification by looking at the data that they have. It’s a very well thought through strategy. I really like it. I actually think that that could be an enormous business for Intuit going forward. I’ve had conversations with Brad and Alex over there. What is the thinking around this in your shop?
Rob Reid: I agree with you. That is a great opportunity for them since they’re dealing with very small businesses. To get any kind of additional financing, they have to go to banks or credit unions. It’s not as easy for them to get funds. That provides them a great opportunity.
We typically are working with more established firms. They have enough of a revenue stream and balance sheet so that it’s pretty easy for them to get bank loans from the likes of Silicon Valley. We could be dealing with public companies that have gotten funding from an IPO. That, for us, is not as great of an opportunity as it is for somebody like Intuit. It’s not high on our initiative list. We’d be going up against very established relationships.
In Northern California, Silicon Valley Bank really understands software companies and what it takes to finance them. For us to go and try and compete with them would be pulling us away from what we know best. It would start to draw away from the opportunity that we have in front of us. We’re going through a new change.
Nineteen years ago, we went through the client server to cloud trend. Today, we’re going through the same kind of incredible change as we’re going toward machine learning and artificial intelligence. That’s going to provide exponential improvements over the next few years. We’re making heavy investments in how to take our customers to a whole other level of being able to do financial planning. That’s where our focus is for the future.
Sramana Mitra: Can you walk us through a couple of use cases of what kinds of things you’re doing with AI and machine learning in the space?
Rob Reid: We have talked to our customers about where we’re going. We’re still in the development with some of these things, but I will reflect on the kind of direction we’re moving in to be able to exemplify the power of machine learning and AI.
Today’s 418th FREE online 1Mby1M roundtable for entrepreneurs is starting NOW, on Thursday, October 11, at 8:00 a.m. PDT/11:00 a.m. EDT/8:30 p.m. India IST. Click here to join. All are welcome!
Today’s 418th FREE online 1Mby1M roundtable for entrepreneurs is starting in 30 minutes, on Thursday, October 11, at 8:00 a.m. PDT/11:00 a.m. EDT/8:30 p.m. India IST. Click here to join. All are welcome!