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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Co-founder of Coefficient, Navneet Loiwal, discusses how Coefficient connects Google sheets with source systems to automatically sync data

Posted on: 12/04/2022

Navneet Loiwal

Navneet Loiwal

Co-Founder and CEO - Coefficient

Navneet Loiwal of Coefficient - Podcast Summary

Co-founder of Coefficient, Navneet Loiwal, discusses how Coefficient connects Google sheets with source systems to automatically sync data with a single click and easily monitor changes with Slack and email alerts. Scott and Navneet also talk about Coefficient’s popular digital escape room at https://coefficient.io/spreadsheet-escape-room/

Navneet Loiwal of Coefficient - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast before we get to our guests special shout out to Kruze Consulting. We do all your startup accounting, startup taxes, and tons of consulting work, kind of whatever comes up like financial models, budget, actuals, maybe some state registration, sales tax, VC due diligence, support, whatever comes up for your company, we’re there for you. 750 clients strong now, 10 billion in capital raised by our clients. I can’t believe it. 2 billion this year. It’s been a crazy awesome year. So, check us out at kruzeconsulting.com and now onto our guest.
Singer: So win your troubles are mounting in tax or accounting, you go to Kruze, Founders and Friends, it’s Kruze Consulting, Founders and Friends with your host Scotty Orn.
Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Warner Cruise Consulting. And today my very special guest is Navneet Loiwal of Coefficient. Welcome, Navneet.
Navneet: Hi. Thanks Scott.
Scott: Scott. My pleasure. So, you have, maybe this is real nerd stuff here, but one of the most exciting, coolest marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen for the accounting world or just nerds or data nerds in general and that’s what precipitated me reaching out into the pocket. You’re also a Kruze client, so thank you for being a Kruze client, but maybe start by just retracing your career a little bit and telling everyone about Coefficient, how you had the idea and then we’ll get into the coolest marketing thing I’ve seen in a long time.
Navneet: Yeah, excited for that. Thank you, Scott. So, I’m Navneet and I am an engineer by training and a product builder by heart. This is our second startup with my co-founder Tommy. The first one was Consumer App. It was a pure mobile consumer app in the early days of the app store. That was a lot of fun, building a large audience. We got 10 million users on a shopping app in the US, that was a lot of fun. Wow, we did a lot of growth hacking on that. Consumer world is a fun world to build for. You have users in the tens of thousands on a daily basis. So, it’s very, very fun and that’s where our roots are. So, as we were looking that first startup got acquired and once we got out of all our commitments, we were figuring out where can we play our second innings. So, a few things stood out to us and this is to our history question. Number one, we as people are very consumer mind. We as founders are very consumer minded, but we wanted to do something in SAS because consumer apps are a crapshoot to trying to build a startup on that. So, for us, the best play would’ve been this recent trend, which is often called consumerization of the enterprise, the PLG product led growth or bottoms up SAS. All of these are phrases used for that. So that would’ve been a natural fit where we are growing by getting business users almost like you would get consumers for an app. So that was part one, part two, okay, what problem are we trying to attack or what is the gap we see in the world? This is what I call an insight hidden in plain sight. We, I mean you, you know your audience and.
Scott: I love that.
Navneet: Use it on a daily basis. We use our spreadsheets, we love our spreadsheets, we live in our spreadsheets and we tend to forget almost like pen and paper, that spreadsheets are actually a software platform you can build on. You can have startups that will claim, oh we are building on Salesforce, we are building on Slack because they are now so widespread. They are platforms we always forget. The biggest one we use every day, the whole world runs on it. That is the spreadsheet. So, to us that was one of the aha moments and the second moment that made Coefficient happen was us as engineers. When we saw that most of the business teams around us in every company we’ve been at there is so much repetitive work happening on a day to day basis. And as an engineer that is always a very frustrating experience when you see something being done over and over and over again manually, right? So, we said could we add automation? Could we bring automation to the business user via the vehicle that they have already they use every day, which is the spreadsheet. So, this bringing automation to spreadsheets is basically what Coefficient is.
Scott: I love it. I love it. And you’re preaching to the choir as an accounting person and former investment banker early in my career, because you’re right about the programming or spreadsheets, whether it’s like Excel or Google Sheets is software. Because when you’re a baby investment banker or baby accountant, you learn all these crazy macros and shortcut keys and how to do all this whiz-bang stuff and it’s not as sexy as programming in whatever the newest programming language is or something like that, but it is real data manipulation and programming so. And then you’ve got, of course you’re talking to people who live in spreadsheets all day us at Kruze. So, we love it man, this is a super interesting concept and maybe talk about some of the systems you integrate with and you had a couple, we were record before we hit the record button. You had a real key insight that I want to make sure everyone gets.
Navneet: So our step one in order to automate work done in spreadsheets is to automate where, how and where data comes into spreadsheets from. So, of course, for any analysis you’re doing, you may use a QuickBooks where you are getting data from or a Salesforce or a Marketo or a HubSpot or databases and data warehouses. These are the list of some of the early systems that we integrate with. So, the idea is in less than one minute you almost like if you can time it, you can be on our website and in two minutes flat, you could have connected your Google Sheet to your QuickBooks or your Salesforce or your HubSpot and have data flow going between them in two minutes flat. That’s our consumer product building speaking, which we fret about literally every second and every step that you need to do in order to get set up and up and running. So, the core ide right now, when you will go, the simplest thing you can do is go to coefficient.io, press the get started button and go connect to QuickBooks. Your audience will often be using QuickBooks or a Salesforce as their systems connect to it. And in a few clicks you can have your transactions, your invoices, your income statements and so on, sitting in your Google Sheet live connected to the QuickBooks, which means now you can keep them up to date, you can make your charts and pivots and other VLOOKUPs on top of that data and now it’ll always remain up to date almost like a BI tool, like a Looker or a Tableau or a complex BI tool. All with the skills that you already know. I don’t even have to teach you what to do here.
Scott: I love it. And then there’s a second part of this, which you told me which I thought was really cool, which is the feedback loop.
Navneet: Yes.
Scott: That you want to explain that?
Navneet: Yes. So, the first step is data coming in that allows you to power your work, your logic, your charts, and so on. On top of that we do two things that are both very, very interesting. Thing number one is once you get in data, obviously we will make corrections to it. You may want to edit some parts like one cell or a lot of cells altogether. What we do allow is now you can press a button and make these changes go back to a source system. For example, a database or a Salesforce. We don’t yet support going back to QuickBooks, but if there is demand, we can put that next on our list. So, what that dos is it effectively makes the spreadsheet the front end to your data that is sitting inside a Salesforce. Now you can look at your open opportunities, your recently closed opportunities, you can edit some stuff all in your spreadsheet and press a button and the data is back into Salesforce. So, you don’t have to use the Salesforce UI at all, which can be slow, which can need too many clicks. But being the flexibility and comfort of your spreadsheet, who doesn’t love to be in that spreadsheet?
Scott: I love it. Well it took me because we use Salesforce, it took me a long time to get kind of indoctrinated in Salesforce and [inaudible 00:07:43] you probably met at Kruze just one day, laid down the law, he runs sales and onboarding at Kruze and was like, “You are going to start using this or things are not going to work out between us.” In a very nice way. And that was the impetus. But yes, if I could have lived in spreadsheets forever, I would’ve totally done that. So that I just find your ability to write back into the application really, really amazing. So good for you. This is a really cool idea. Something that we can definitely take advantage of at Kruze too. So, thank you.
Navneet: Scott. If I could mention the second part, which you could definitely use is once you get your data in and you may have computer columns and pivots and so on, you can then take the monitoring aspect of Coefficient, say track this set of columns and anytime it exceeds 90 days, if you’re tracking invoices, anytime it exceeds 90 days, send me a Slack alert or send me an email alert. What that basically does is you have basically set up an automated business monitoring system in your spreadsheet. You never even have to open that spreadsheet again. It is always live, always computing what you set it to compute and the day something crosses your threshold, you’ll get a Slack alert.
Scott: I love it, especially if I can really be specific AR aging accounts receivable, aging is a pain point. I constantly see founders not actually reviewing their AR aging, which basically means like you’ve invoiced a client but you haven’t collected on them. And for you know this, but I’ll just explain it to the audience, it’s like 0, 30, 60, 90 days when you start seeing things get in 60 or 90 days, that means you’re not collecting on time. There’s a problem. And like just having that tab alone, open syncing with Coefficient, with QuickBooks would be so valuable for a lot of entrepreneurs cause I see them ignore that or not pay attention to that and getting a Slack alert, hey this $25,000 check I’m supposed to collect is now 60 days overdue. That’s an alarm that’s worthy of an alarm. And so, I totally see the value in what you’re doing with that notification system too. Hey, it’s Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting, taking a quick pit stop to give some of the groups at Kruze a big shout out. First up is our tax team, amazing! They can do your federal and state income tax returns, R and D tax credits, sales tax help, anything you need for state registrations. They do it all and we’re so grateful for all their awesome work. Also, our finance team is doing amazing work now. They build financial models, budget actuals and help your company navigate the VC due diligence process. I guess our tax team does that too on the tax side, but the finance team is doing great work. And then I think everyone kind of knows our accounting team is pretty awesome, but want to give them a shout out too. Thanks. And back to the guest. Let’s talk about your genius marketing. I’m not sure who came up with this, but can you give you basically created, I don’t know, why don’t you explain it?
Navneet: Yeah.
Scott: And I’ll jump in here.
Navneet: Yeah, I mean this is something we got so excited with when we got the idea. I’ll give a little history. We had done a contest based on spreadsheets earlier in the year. That contest was specifically for sales operation people to give us their favorite sales dashboard made by some sample data that we provided and you made it, you have to make a sales dashboard. People went crazy, you guys all live in spreadsheets and I was blown away with the quality of work, presentation and everything that people could do in their spreadsheets. So that was a big resounding success and we wanted to figure out what is our next contest. And this time we said could we make it more fun than be serious where oh you are to give a business dashboard. So, what could be fun? And we have this guy on our team who is an absolute spreadsheet ninja. I think somewhere in our conversations we came up with the idea that what if you could solve puzzles in a spreadsheet? Very interesting. What would it mean? And then was the aha moment. What if we all love a lot of people in the team, we love escape rooms, I don’t know many of your audience may have done escape rooms. Could we make an escape room? A sequence of puzzles that you have to solve to beat this escape room that is all in a sheet does not even use app script, it’s all done with spreadsheet formulas. It is. That idea was just so exciting when we came up with it, we were like, wait, could this really be done? And we had our first proof of concept where the type of puzzles that our team was able to create in a spreadsheet. I think all of you will have a lot of fun going through it.
Scott: It’s so cool. Go to coefficient.io/spreadsheet-escape-room/. Or probably you could just type in “coefficient spreadsheet escape room” into Google and up comes this amazing page with a guy in a suit and a tie with old school computer. And even you have, I don’t know how you got Tom Arnold to explain this. Basically, you go into this Google Sheet and you navigate and for those who don’t know an escape room, typically they’re like physical. You’re in a location somewhere and there’s clues or puzzles on the wall or you have to look for certain stuff and then you go, you escape that room and usually go to another room where there’s another five or six puzzles or clues you have to find and so on and so on until you escape. I mean you folks thought of this and built into a spreadsheet which couldn’t be more like just a reflection of who you are and who your customer is. So, I just thought this was literally the one of the coolest marketing things I’ve seen in a long time.
Navneet: We’ve had such love come for this escape room idea and we want to see what we can do beyond just this first escape room that we have built on just people from different countries, from different walks of life playing it and then commenting, saying this is one of the best things they’ve ever done in a spreadsheet. And definitely, I mean I would really encourage you all to check it out. It’ll take you less than five minutes usually to run through the sequence of puzzles and we are trying to see if we could teach people about formulas by making many escape rooms over time. If you want to learn VLOOKUPs instead of reading a blog article, would you rather play two quick puzzles? Almost like a Wordle, like a daily Wordle could you play two puzzles in a little spreadsheet to actually both have fun and learn something by doing it, doing it yourself.
Scott: I love it. Well the funny thing you mentioned VLOOKUPs. So, when I was starting investing banking in 1999, which I’m totally dating myself, VLOOKUPs are like were my magic. I was awesome at VLOOKUPs and now this is going to, again, I sound so old, but everyone at Kruze uses index match functions and I can’t even, I’m embarrassed to say I still don’t really know how they work. So, I need to get to is there an index match function in the escape room or can that be the next room you build?
Navneet: Yeah, that would be a great candidate for the next one.
Scott: Oh my gosh, I take a lot of grief here for not understanding how to do that. I’m still a VLOOKUP guy, which is I know is embarrassing. I know, that’s embarrassing. So, had you said that you’ve had people from all over the world, people from Asia, people from Europe, what’s happening? What’s the buzz?
Navneet: So this was on Product Hunt and we made it high up on Product Hunt that gave us a lot of visibility. And the way the escape room is structured, it’s actually a game. So, you solve the clues that are hidden in the cells at your spreadsheet, you solve the clues, you get the time in which you solve through the escape room if you beat it and then you can challenge your, it’s like a race and then you can challenge your friends. So there has been a lot of virality, people have been sharing this on Twitter and LinkedIn about like, “Hey, can you beat my time? I got so and so minutes running through this escape room.” So that has given us, this has really taken a life of its own and I’m proud of the team both coming up with the idea and executing on it.
Scott: Well you know what’s funny about that, when you do an escape room, oftentimes you do it with your friends and oftentimes you’re measured against your friends how fast you get something versus your, so you, it’s so genius how you built in that little aspect of competition into this. What’s the, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but the fast is like have people solved this in a minute? How fast are they are doing this?
Navneet: No, there are some people who have definitely solved it faster than we would’ve even expected. But I don’t want to spoil on the time. But yes, in five minutes you should be able to most people in five-ish minutes. It won’t take a lot of time. Give it a try.
Scott: I love it. So, go to coefficient.io, we’ll put this in the podcast link too, but coefficient.io and then /spreadsheet-escape-room and you’ll come up and you’ll know you’re there. There’s like, there’s a very boring guy who looks like a desk clerk staring right at you when you get to that website. It’s also just, you did such a good job customizing the website and just so it looks so good, you just get indoctrinated in it so quickly.
Navneet: This was well done. We really need to take this and make a sequence of these and not just leave it at this first one that we have done.
Scott: Totally. Well this is the kind of thing that also will build, because everyone will be keeping their eye out for the next one and the next one will be three or four times bigger than this. So this is just so cool. I love it. A great creative, like you said, you were the company in your Slack or something, you guys were chatting about it. How where’d this come from?
Navneet: Yeah, this came from, as I was explaining, we had already run one contest, which was on the [inaudible 00:16:52] side and we were brainstorming, okay, how could we make a more fun contest and a more lightweight and a fun contest because the first one really needed you to spend a bunch of effort to participate in that. We got a hundred people to participate, which was already a lot given the amount of work done. We said what would be fun and so lightweight that it could go to thousands of people and this came up from the team. So, it was absolutely a genius idea which has taken a life of its own.
Scott: It’s also just shows, it shows how much the team at Coefficient identifies with their customer too and it’s kind of in it with them that is like, this is the kind of thing that you couldn’t teach. It’s a reflection of the culture of the company. So, kudos to you for assembling such a great team and is clear they’re part, they’re into this, they’re into the mission of what you’re doing and helping people and also letting people manipulate data or do the business monitoring as you said, which is a great concept in their own way, in a place that they’re comfortable. We’re always comfortable in our bedroom or on the couch in our physical locations. And for many business people, spreadsheets are where you’re comfortable. So, bringing all this data to them in a spreadsheet is really amazing and this is just exemplifying that your team is in it and thinking the right way.
Navneet: The fact that the world runs on spreadsheets and all of us live in spreadsheets and love our spreadsheets, that makes this actually easier because this is one of those products that we are embarking on, one of those journeys where it’s not that for anyone, it could be the salesperson or the customer success person in a company. It’s not that you’re just working at a company and you don’t know what the product is, you know, learned it and that’s it. People come in here, come in here excited to say I could be a salesperson, I may be a customer success person, but I could be a salesperson for this product because I felt this pain. I can see how this product can be used and I could use it every day. That’s the powe of spreadsheets so forgotten as the one thing that connects all of us in our early days, we just raised a series A recently, so we are still in the earlier stages of building this product and we already have paid customers from every continent in the world. We have paid customers from a 10% nonprofit to a public company and all of this is because the world runs on spreadsheets.
Scott: I believe it. Yeah, I love it man. And there’s so much more to go. And then in a way, as you’re talking about that, I think you integrate with Salesforce, QuickBooks right now and maybe did you mention Marketo? I can’t remember if we mentioned that.
Navneet: We do HubSpot right now. Marketo is top of our list and we do a lot of databases, data warehouses. In fact, one thing that your audience may love, we also pull from a Tableau or Looker a lot of companies where yours.
Scott: Interesting.
Navneet: Your audience is they’re companies of reasonable size. You have a data team who may have lovingly set up a Snowflake, a Tableau, or a Looker, right? Great, this can be good places of information, but until you pull it in a spreadsheet you can’t really action it. So, we allow you to do a one click import from a Looker dashboard into your spreadsheet so you can do more with that data.
Scott: I love it and I can, I’m already visualizing the Zapier like ecosystem you’re going to be able to build. Because it’s like one of those things where you’ve got Salesforce, you’ve got QuickBooks, you do HubSpot, you do all the big CRMs, and then there’s another category you start integrating with and once you knock it’s just going to be get more and more exciting. This is going to have a real strong network effect, which is really exciting because if someone learns Coefficient and learns how to set everything up, they’ll be able to access even more applications, which is really neat. This is really cool Navneet. I’m really happy for you in the team. Do you mind telling everyone, we should probably wrap it up, but do you mind telling everyone how to reach out, how to get in touch with you if they want to work with Coefficient?
Navneet: Yeah, so Coefficient, our website is coefficient.io. Very easy to find on Google as well. Drop me an email directly if you want. I am navneet@coefficient.io or anytime for the product or for anything else. You can reach out to support@coefficient.io and we are very responsive on it. We want to make you succeed in your work. And of course, we are growing our team as well right now. As I briefly mentioned, we have just raised a series A right now in the last couple of months. So, we are growing the team across all functions. So, this would be a very exciting time to join an early state startup if that’s your jam.
Scott: I love it. And also, just I forgot to touch the sense of humor. The sense of humor with the design and what you’re doing and nothing. Because startups are hard, you’ve already done one before. Startups are really hard. And to have a mission, which is clear, you folks have to be able to relate to your customers and then to have just a pinch of that sense of humor and not take yourself so seriously, it all comes across in this. So, I’m just happy for you, I’m happy for the team. Give my best to the Coefficient team and thanks for coming by. And please check out coefficient.io if you want to try it out. Thank you all. Bye. Take care.
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