Israel has so many neat companies focused on the SMB business. You probably know Camilyo (now part of Bauer). And the Wix machine is really breaking records in terms of building an SMB SaaS company with a really high market valuation. It’s at $16.5 billion today. And of course, there’s Amdocs. The global data company was started in the basement of the old print Yellow Pages business in Israel.
There are just so many great startups popping up in Israel. Today we’ll take note of just one of them. DataRails. Why DataRails? Well, for starters, it just completed a $43.5 million Series A round. But the company is also addressing a unique SMB pain point.
DataRails is focused on helping SMBs extract knowledge from their excel spreadsheets. Specifically, the company makes software that simplifies running financial planning and analytics exercises. The company’s thesis is that with SMBs adopting and using more and more apps, the business operator can’t keep up with the data streams being generated by the apps. As such, today it is a hassle to consider the data implications from all the apps that a business might be using.
Finding Signal in All the Noise
The folks at DataRails want to make it easy for an SMB operator to automatically translate the data feeds into a big picture view of the company. They do this by “looking” at what’s in various excel spreadsheets and applying machine learning and AI to extract knowledge from disparate data.
CEO Didi Garfinkle said this about the company’s origins. “We started the company with a vision to save the world from Excel spreadsheets. The core of our technology knows how to take unstructured data and map that to a central database.”
It is an interesting position to build a business from. We’d imagine that many SMBs pour tons of information into Excel. This might be customer information if they’re not using a more sophisticated CMR solution. It could be daily transactions, or perhaps payroll. The list is pretty long. If they can really make sense of the various streams of data and display it in a way that makes sense for the SMB owner that could be a great help. Ideally, the software needs to also say the “so what” of the data – if it can do that it would be pretty amazing.
Do Labels Matter?
Having interfaced with many SMBs of the years, we know that there is a lack of both analysis and the “so what” to drive action. So what DataRails, now six years old, is up to is indeed very interesting. We’re just not sure that labeling the software FP&A – financial planning and analysis – is the right approach.
Go ask 100 SMB owners if they even know what FP&A means. You’ll end up with a lot of blank stares. But what if you called it something like “Excel Analytics and Insights”? Then maybe the SMB will be more tuned in.
One of DataRails’ investors framed the opportunity this way.
“We’re thrilled to reinvest in DataRails and continue working with the team to help them navigate their recent explosive and rapid growth. With innovative yet accessible technology and a tremendous untapped market opportunity, DataRails is primed to scale and become the leading FP&A solution for SMEs everywhere.”
We’re glad they’re so bullish on what DataRails is doing. We do have one caution. While the messaging that DataRails is the “leading FP&A solution for SMBs” might catch the attention of analysts like us, we think it’s dead in the water for the SMBs. We hope their listening.