Pigment raises $73M to take on Excel and generic spreadsheet players in the world of business planning and forecasting

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The last 20 months of life amid COVID-19, with all its unexpected developments, has been a challenge for many organizations when it comes to planning for the future. But it has also presented an opportunity for technology: Make tools for planning and forecasting, even in the midst of a pandemic, easier and more effective. As a result, Colour — a Paris startup that has built a platform to help organizations better visualize data and use it to power better business planning and forecasting — The business is seeing growth, and today it’s driving its growth The promotion is announcing a $73 million Series B, both in the US and Europe.

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Its mission, CEO and co-founder Eleonore Crespo said in an interview, is not only to make it easier to access large datasets in more strategic ways, but to use its intuitive approach to take on the giant of Excel – an estimated 1 billion more users than ever — and other general spreadsheet programs, to become the go-to planning and forecasting platform.

“Eighty percent of use cases are still done in Excel,” Crespo said. “We’ve built the most powerful engine on the market, delivering simplicity in a complex process.” The approach is about replacing the ubiquitous spreadsheet interface with drag-and-drop elements for manipulating business data so that anyone, including non-technical people, can use it, she said, “a bit like Lego.” First in finance and revenue, the plan would be to create modeling and forecasting templates that can be used across various business departments, including human resources, sales and marketing.

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The round is led by Greenox, in which previous backers Firstmark Capital and Blossom Capital are also participating. Blossom led the pigment’s $26 million Series A in December 2020.

Pigment isn’t disclosing its valuation with this round, but for some context, it had a Series A valuation of $112 million per year. pitch book figures.

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Along with attracting customers, Pigment’s hitherto sweet spot is working with fast-scaling businesses with a strong play especially in the tech world, where its clients include Algolia, Gong, Melio, Deliveroo, Spendesk. , BlaBlaCar and Cheerz – well, organizations that are collecting vast amounts of data about business operations, and have a strong need for tools to help them make a better sense of that data, to see what the future holds Might be a better idea.

In fact, one of the reasons the pigment plays so widely in that use case was because of some of the inspiration behind why it was established in the first place. Crespo was previously an investor in Index Ventures (and previously a data analyst at Google) and its co-founder Romain Nicoli was previously CTO and co-founder of edtech giant Crito.

At Crito, she said, Nicoli’s “biggest nightmare” was that technical, sales and other departments were touting very powerful tools to handle data modeling and forecasting, but in areas like revenue and finance, “they just We’re also using Excel for super strategic data.” This was a major problem because Excel was never originally designed to be used that way, and it did not evolve to meet that demanding and heavy usage.

Crespo found the same, she said, when trying to evaluate information both in the index, and in the index’s portfolio companies.

“All these companies that were growing rapidly, were preparing for IPOs, and we would see them running strategic cases on spreadsheets,” she recalled. “It just didn’t work. Excel would just break. It wasn’t secure. I thought there had to be a better way.”

Crespo said Pigment is the first to offer a wide range of connectors for integrating data from several other platforms, including Snowflake, NetSuite, Looker, Workday, Salesforce, Google Sheets and “dozens.” It then provides a set of tools so that teams and partners can view the data, collaborate and provide feedback. For those who already use Excel, they can work on the data in pigments using the “Excel syntax” to show trends in the data. It also provides a range of big data analytics tools behind the scenes so that users can then run multiple “what-if” scenarios on the data to compare different financial results, as and if conditions change.

Of course, there are many different companies, both old and new, that are tackling the business planning world with software to make it easier to do so. They include new players in the more general spreadsheet landscape such as Anaplan, DataRail, Workday (related to the specific area of ​​HR), Oracle, IBM, Looker and even Airtable. Interestingly, Pigment’s two angel investors, Paul Melchiore and David Clarke, come from those two competitors, Anaplan and Workday, respectively. (Melchiore was Anaplan’s CEO, and Clark is Workday’s former CTO.)

“I’ve been in the venture planning business since my time at SAP in the early 1990s. I’ve recently led the biggest player in the space, and I can honestly say that Pigment’s platform is the most flexible and comprehensive ,” Melchiore said in a statement. “Pigment will be transformative for the start-up ecosystem as it will be at the core of successful and sustainable development strategies, designed to create the next generation of leaders. It will help them in increasing access to funding. Will allow to plan for uncertain scenarios while meeting the high expectations set by the levels and being socially and environmentally conscious.”

Behind this latest round is the support and growth of startups.

“Financial planning and analysis is an important business function. But today, most companies rely on software that hasn’t evolved in years — either old spreadsheets that are inflexible and don’t scale, or expensive and overly complex FP&A.” There are suites that require an industry of advisors. Today’s businesses demand agile and intelligent tools that will help them make better decisions,” Neil Shah at Greenox Capital said in a statement. plans, faster than any competitor and will become the clear market leader in wider use cases, and delight our customers along the way.”

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