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Runway raises $27M to make financial planning more accessible and intelligent

Bynewsmagzines

Jul 17, 2023
Runway raises $27M to make financial planning more accessible and intelligent


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Runway, a San Francisco-based startup that aims to reinvent how businesses use financial data, announced today that it has raised $27.5 million in series A funding led by Garry Tan’s Initialized Capital. The round is Initialized Capital’s largest investment to date and comes on the heels of a $5 million seed round from Andreessen Horowitz earlier this year.

Runway is a new cloud-based platform that allows businesses to create, manage, and share financial models and plans with relative ease. The platform integrates with over 100 data sources, such as QuickBooks, NetSuite, Google Sheets and AWS, and automates the process of updating and maintaining financial forecasts. Runway also uses artificial intelligence to generate insights, scenarios and recommendations based on the business data and goals.

The company was founded in 2020 by Siqi Chen and Arya Asemanfar, who previously worked at Zynga and Facebook respectively. Chen, who serves as Runway’s CEO, said in a recent interview with VentureBeat that the company’s mission is to make business success understandable to everyone.

“We believe that everyone in a company should have access to the financial data and context that drives their work. But today, financial planning is often done in spreadsheets that are hard to understand, maintain and share. We want to change that by building a consumer-grade product that makes financial planning more accessible, intuitive and intelligent,” Chen said.

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“We really see this becoming an operating system for businesses,” he added. “That’s what the financial artifact enables, because it connects everything in that company. People, data, all the work that you do, customers, and sales.”

Spreadsheets begone

According to Chen, Runway’s platform is different from traditional spreadsheet tools in several ways. One of its key innovations is the concept of plans, which are isolated changes to the financial model that capture the business intent and context behind them. Plans can be created by anyone in the company, assigned to different owners, moved around on a timeline and compared for their impact on key metrics.

“Plans are a new primitive that enable some of the most useful AI workflows that we have. If we didn’t have plans, an AI cannot create plans. So we really try to think about how we can invent fundamentally new primitives to make this more accessible,” Chen said.

Another feature that sets Runway apart is its ability to handle time series data natively. This means that users can easily plan for future events or changes without affecting the historical data or breaking the formulas. For example, users can give themselves or others a raise in six months or adjust their sales conversion rate based on seasonality.

“We’ve engineered everything to be natively time series. So what that means is you can actually turn on this as a time series and then go to the future and make some plans for your salary or other people’s salaries. It’ll just work,” Chen said.

Consumer-style finance tools for non-finance people

Runway also boasts a sleek user interface that allows you to create custom dashboards and reports with drag-and-drop functionality. You can also interact with graphs and charts directly by dragging them up or down to see how they affect the outcomes. Additionally, users can collaborate with their team members and stakeholders by sharing their models and plans via links or embedding them into other tools like Notion or Slack.

With the new funding, Runway plans to expand its team, improve its product features and integrations, and prepare for its general-availability launch next year. The company is currently in early access mode and has over 50 customers across various industries, such as Stability AI, Superhuman, Lobe AI, Origin Protocol and Joby Aviation.

Runway is part of a growing trend of startups that are using AI to disrupt traditional financial planning and analysis (FP&A) tools. According to Gartner, AI will automate 80% of FP&A tasks by 2024. The benefits of using AI for FP&A include faster decision-making, improved accuracy and reliability, reduced manual work and errors, enhanced scenario planning and forecasting, and better alignment and collaboration across the organization.

However, Runway faces tough competition from other players in the space, such as Anaplan, Adaptive Insights (acquired by Workday), Planful (formerly Host Analytics) and Causal App (formerly Causal). These companies offer various solutions for budgeting, forecasting, reporting, analytics and modeling for businesses of different sizes and industries.

Runway claims to have an edge over its rivals by offering a more accessible, intuitive and intelligent platform that can handle complex and dynamic business scenarios. The company also claims to have a large and untapped market opportunity, as most businesses still rely on spreadsheets or outdated tools for their financial planning.

“We think that our product is not only better, but also different from anything else in the market. We are not just building a better spreadsheet or a better FP&A tool. We are building an operating system for businesses that connects people, data and work in a new way. We believe that this is the future of financial planning and analysis in the age of AI,” Chen said.

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