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Runway, a San Francisco-based startup aiming to reinvent the way companies use financial data, today announced 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 by Andreessen Horowitz earlier this year.
Runway is a new cloud-based platform that allows businesses to create, manage and share financial plans and models 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 business data and objectives.
The company was founded in 2020 by Siqi Chen and Arya Asemanfar, who previously worked for Zynga and Facebook, respectively. Chen, who serves as the CEO of Runway, 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 guide their work. But today financial planning is often done in spreadsheets that are difficult 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,” said Chen.
“We really see it becoming an operating system for enterprises,” he added. “That’s what the financial artifact enables, because it connects everything in that company. People, data, all the work you do, customers and sales.”
According to Chen, Runway’s platform is different from traditional spreadsheet tools in several ways. One of his key innovations is the concept of plans, which are isolated modifications to the financial model that capture the business intent and underlying context. Plans can be created by anyone within the company, assigned to different owners, moved on a timeline, and compared for their impact on key metrics.
“Plans are a new primitive that enables some of the most useful AI workflows we have. If we didn’t have plans, an AI can’t create plans. So let’s really try to think about how we can come up with fundamentally new primitives to make it 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 historical data or violating formulas. For example, users can give themselves or others a raise in six months or adjust their sales conversion rate based on seasonality.
“We designed everything to be a native time series. So that means you can actually trigger this as a time series and then go into the future and make plans for your salary or other people’s salaries. It will just work,” Chen said.
Consumer-style financial tools for non-financial people
Runway also boasts an elegant user interface that allows you to create custom dashboards and reports with drag and drop functionality. You can also directly interact with charts and graphs by dragging them up or down to see how they affect your results. Additionally, users can collaborate with their team members and stakeholders by sharing their templates and plans via links or embed them in other tools like Notion or Slack.
With the new funding, Runway plans to expand its team, enhance product features and integrations, and prepare for the 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 using AI to disrupt traditional financial planning and analysis (FP&A) tools. Second GartnerAI will automate 80% of FP&A activities by 2024. Benefits of using AI for FP&A include faster decision making, increased accuracy and reliability, reduced manual work and errors, scheduling and forecasting improved scenarios and better alignment and collaboration within the organization.
However, Runway faces stiff 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 budgeting, forecasting, reporting, analysis and modeling solutions for companies of different sizes and industries.
Runway claims to have an edge over its competitors by offering a more accessible, intuitive and intelligent platform capable of handling complex and dynamic business scenarios. The company also says it has a large and untapped market opportunity, as most businesses still rely on outdated spreadsheets or tools for their financial planning.
“We think our product is not only better, but also different than anything else on the market. We’re not just building a better spreadsheet or a better FP&A tool. We’re building an operating system for business that connects people, data and work in a new way. We believe this is the future of financial planning and analysis in the AI era,” said Chen.
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