Thursday, August 14, 2014
Interview with Lisa Reeves, GridCraft
Boulder-based GridCraft (www.gridcraft.com) recently announced a $2.2M seed round for its data analysis software for business users. We spoke with Lisa Reeves, the CEO and co-founder of the company, to learn a little more about what the company is working on and it's products--plus why Boulder is such a great town for startups and startup founders.
Explain what GridCraft is all about?
Lisa Reeves: We are in the data analytics space. Our company is one year old--in fact, we just had our one year anniversary this week. What we're doing, is we are empowering business users and end users with the ability to aggregate and visualize and analyze their data. We run a cloud scale database, that sucks in all kind of data, whether that's company data, external data, or any other data. The interface to that data is a spreadsheet. If an individual knows how to use a spreadsheet, whether that is Excel or Google, they're able to tap into the power of our platform. We allow them to work with very large data sets, heterogeneous data sets, any kind of data. It's really designed for the modern enterprise, and runs on mobile, is extremely fast, and has a nice interface for end users, and wizards for things like charting. Years ago, this was the type of thing which required that you had a background in business intelligence or data analytics. Now, we're bringing that power to individuals.
What's your background and the background of your co-founders?
Lisa Reeves: My background is from SAP and big enterprise software. I worked for SAP for fourteen years, and also worked at Citrix for a couple of years. My other cofounders were both at Oracle, and before that they were at other startups and Microsoft. The whole database background comes from those two. They have a tremendous amounts of experience around interacting, sharing, and collaborating on data. I'm more from the business site. At Citrix, there was a lot of focus on the consumerization of IT, and really bringing tools and technology to end users and business users to make them successful.
Who are the ideal customers for your software, and where are you right now?
Lisa Reeves: We're in beta right now with a number of companies, and we are really focusing on our GA product which will launch in early fall. There are two or three core use cases. One is in financial operations, in data analysis and planning, another is in sales operations, where you have a lot of real time and fast moving data; and the last is in marketing operations. When we talk about financial planning and analysis, it's interesting to look at our sharing and collaboration capabilities. A lot of people are familiar with Google Sheets and sharing. In our system, you can share at the worksheet level, by region, and even down to individual cells. When you share your worksheet with other people, you can make it read only, read and edit, or read and edit and reshare. Plus, we have features like full audit and rollback. The classic use case is building a budget for an organization. Today, what typically happens is someone emails out a spreadsheet, which people fill out, and someone has to cut and past everything together and roll it all up. For our system, everyone works on the same sheet. There's no cutting or pasting, and emails go out the window. There's lots of advantages to working on the same data set.
You've got an interesting background, having been on the venture and investment side at SAP. What made you decide to move over to the operational side?
Lisa Reeves: That's a great question. At SAP, I was at the venture fund for five years, and I was also at Vista Ventures in Boulder. I was on the board of Rally Software, and also of NewsGator. So, I have pretty deep experience on the venture side. I love that, and it was fantastic, but I decided I wanted to have more than a light touch. As a venture investor, you touch lots of companies, and you sit on lots of boards, and look at lotsof deals. But, I missed the ownership and responsibility for P and L. When I went over to Citrix and headed up one of their lines as a General Manager, I really loved that experience. It's unusual to do that, but it's been fantastic. I've been able to leverage my experience on the venture side, in terms of what we've been doing here at Gridcart and the seed round.
Why is there so much enterprise software talent and startups in Colorado, do you think?
Lisa Reeve: Funny enough, if you look at the recent Wall Street Journal, you'll see an article on how Boulder has the second highest percent of CEOs who live in a region, and there's a picture of me there. The reporter there asked the same question--why are there so many startups here in Boulder? I think part of that reason is the goodness that TechStars and Foundry Group has provided the area. They have really set up this region for real, collaborative dialogue. I've worked both in the Bay Area and back east, and I've never seen anything like that. I've never seen a more collaborative environment. People here might not invest in your idea, and they might even think you have a bad idea, but they're willing to tell you and help you. I also think that people really want to live here, because of the great lifestyle. That's especially true if you're a runner or a skier. However, I think it's because of the very collaborative environment here, that's why there are so many startup companies here.