First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Brandon Metcalf: We are doing well, and like so many others, riding the wave of emotions and changes it has brought. It has been a challenging year for sure, but the family is healthy, and I’m grateful for being able to still do what I love.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Place Technology.
Brandon Metcalf: I’m certainly one that is not afraid to take a calculated risk or move. I started working with Bank of America in my early 20s, an experience that set a great foundation for the rest of my career. I then worked with staffing and recruiting giant Kelly Services and then joined CVPartners, a boutique recruiting firm for financial executives.
During my time in staffing and recruiting, I grew frustrated with the available software. In 2009 I co-founded Talent Rover with the goal of building better software for the industry. At this point in my career, I began cutting my “entrepreneurial teeth” by driving sales, leading product vision, building, and supporting teams, opening global offices, and building incredible customer relationships. As the president of a fast-growing SaaS company, financial planning and forecasting became critical in helping the company scale, survive, and eventually exit. I developed a series of financial models that enabled us to forecast all business elements even as we were growing at 3,000 percent.
In 2018, Talent Rover was acquired by our biggest competitor, Bullhorn. I then decided to launch Place Technology, developing our core solution PlaceCPM with a mission to help other companies solve the challenges that come with financial forecasting. We want our customers to have a solution with the adaptability of a spreadsheet but with the sophistication of the software.
How does Place Technology innovate?
Brandon Metcalf: One of our core values is to build software that we believe in, and for us, this means using our own product on a daily basis. We have extensive backgrounds working with both SaaS and professional service companies, so we intimately understand what finance teams in those industries experience. By combining our industry experience and day-to-day use of our products with our customers’ voices and needs, we can be innovative in a way that drives meaningful impact. We are passionate about “customer love.” We have learned from decades of building software solutions how to dig into what the customer is asking for and translate that into easy-to-use technology.
One of the many reasons we started Place is to address the daily grind, in-the-weeds manual reporting, and data gathering that is simply not efficient for today’s finance teams. Legacy solutions are either too large and difficult to implement or too surface-level to offer a detailed, accurate forecast. With flexible modeling, on-demand revenue and cash flow forecasts, and many other features built specifically for SaaS and professional service companies, PlaceCPM gives finance teams and business leaders the tools and confidence needed to make critical decisions with accuracy time-efficiency.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Brandon Metcalf: Similar to most businesses, we are taking steps and precautions to ensure that Place Technology can weather the pandemic. This includes closely monitoring sales and marketing pipelines, frequent performance updates, customer experience, and regular meetings to ensure the team is connected and informed.
We know that the ability to accurately forecast cash flow, project revenue, and control expenses is even more critical during uncertain financial times. We’re focused on helping our customers achieve that level of visibility through the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Brandon Metcalf: As a company, we had to look at the possibility of sales not just slowing, but completely going away. We had to produce plans that would enable us to make the best decisions possible with the uncertainty of how long this would last and what would be the new state of normal. Fortunately, our team utilized PlaceCPM well before the pandemic arrived and already had a plan in place. We had just raised a round of funding and had a variety of scenarios already built that reflected these assumptions, which allowed us to create contingency plans.
We were also able to help many customers craft their plans and be prepared to make decisions based on what was actually happening in their businesses. It was a great feeling to help during so much uncertainty.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Place Technology in the future?
Brandon Metcalf: Building a company certainly comes with a high degree of both stress and anxiety. Molly Graham writes an incredible blog post that talks about this and refers to it as a monster chewing on your leg‘ .
Thankfully this is not the first time I’m building a company, and I’ve learned how to manage the stress and anxiety that it brings. For me, I’m the most comfortable when I have a plan, or better yet, a series of plans. It’s certainly one of the reasons I’m so passionate about what we are doing at Place. Finance and software have always come naturally to me, so it’s extremely rewarding when I can combine that skillset with my personal experience as an entrepreneur to equip other small businesses with the tools needed for growth.
What does your market look like, and how are you staying in the game?
Brandon Metcalf: The financial forecasting software market is certainly not a new segment, but it has become increasingly competitive over the last few years. The industry seeks to modernize manual, outdated processes. The pandemic has also changed how companies forecast. It is no longer about building models based on numbers from past years. More importantly, it has the flexibility to generate detailed forecasts without solely relying on historical data. The market for technology solutions that address this financial forecasting approach will continue to grow as business leaders are under immense pressure to account for different outcomes amid an uncertain and oftentimes volatile market.
However, where many market players fall short is either creating an overly complex solution that is too expensive or too tortuous to adopt or mistakenly assuming that a blanket solution would meet multiple industries’ needs. What separates Place Technology is our understanding that business problems are unique and cannot be solved by simply casting a wide net. PlaceCPM is specifically built for the unique needs of fast-growing SaaS and professional services businesses. We don’t want to be all things to everyone, but we want to be the best financial forecasting software for those industries we specialize in.
Your final thoughts?
Brandon Metcalf: For 2021, our go-forward strategy is to expand upon the market gains we were able to make this year. This includes a steady stream of new platform updates that improve functionality, reduce the burden and continue to ensure our platform can deliver tangible business value for SaaS and professional services.
I expect it to be a challenging year that will continue to push our boundaries. More than ever, it will be a time to stay focused on our core values, as they will keep us focused on what matters most.