How Didi Gurfinkel CEO of DataRails is offering the best FP&A solution for excel users
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Didi Gurfinkel: All in all, I can luckily say that we’re doing well. Since I work in tech, with the exception of the introduction of remote work, we actually didn’t experience too many changes. This past year, we continued to grow the business and even reached higher efficiency levels than pre-COVID. My wife, a Psychologist, is an essential worker, so she also worked as usual.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded DataRails.
Didi Gurfinkel: I began my journey as a Software Engineer. I then progressed to more senior roles, including Team Lead and VP R&D, after which I took on more managerial roles- I was a COO, and after that GM- I led a big business unit at Cisco, which is actually where the idea behind DataRails was born. I saw how Cisco, a big and established organization, was conducting critical financial processes on Excel spreadsheets. Despite being an organization that could afford to purchase any available solution in the market, Cisco continued to use Excel spreadsheets for their processes. I realized that there must be a better way to approach and tackle the problem of data aggregation. That’s when I decided to try to turn Excel into an enterprise-grade tool and how DataRails came to life.
How does DataRails innovate?
Didi Gurfinkel: First of all, we allow each employee, no matter what their title or level, to influence the product roadmap. We created an environment in which each employee feels that he or she is a part of product development. For years we actually didn’t have even one product manager- rather, the product was managed by a committee that was comprised of representatives from all of the organization’s various departments. That way, we were able to get insight from different stakeholders- from the SDRs, from the Sales team that brought feedback from the top of the funnel, and from the Customer Success team that received feedback directly from our customers. Also, we ourselves use our system to run our processes. This way, we experience firsthand the challenges and problems that parallel those of our customers. A lot of our innovation comes from this.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Didi Gurfinkel: Despite COVID, we were able to grow significantly. The primary way we saw the effects of COVID was on businesses that were in our pipeline that closed down during this period, in particular businesses in industries that were hit hard by the pandemic like restaurants and schools. But overall, our product-market fit was strong enough to be practically unaffected by the pandemic situation. We believe that once things calm down in the world, we’ll be able to be even more successful than we are today.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Didi Gurfinkel: Yes, before we could truly assess the impact of the pandemic on our business, we decided to take preventative measures. These measures wound up being exaggerated and overprotective, and we reversed them as soon as we could. But still, in retrospect, we wouldn’t have conducted the changes that we made to our human resources.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Didi Gurfinkel: As part of our scaling process, we’re inputting more and more systems for managing the customer journey. We also consistently track if a customer is using the platform or not, is happy or unhappy, and if something in their usage or behavioral pattern has changed. All of this information gives us an indication of how things are going for them with our system. We’re implementing systems that accompany our customers in their usage of our system and track every call and interaction we have with each customer. This allows us to identify issues early on and see how we can improve customer satisfaction, all while scaling significantly. The platforms we use include Monday and Totango.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Didi Gurfinkel: Yes, we received grants from the Israel Innovation Authority. These grants were designated to help us deal with the main challenges that the pandemic brought on and allowed us to navigate through these challenging times.
Your final thoughts?
Didi Gurfinkel: Similar to just about every other business out there, this time has been challenging. But, we’ve been able to flourish and grow despite the challenges. Luckily, we weren’t amongst the industries that were hit hard from the pandemic, though we also weren’t amongst those who benefitted from the situation. We’re pleased that we were able to deal with all the accompanying difficulties, for example, familial and mental challenges, all while keeping our employees focused, productive, and feeling supported by their workplace. Despite all the challenges, we were able to grow significantly and were even able to successfully complete a funding round of 18.5 million dollars. The ability to raise funds, especially during turbulent times, is indicative of the strength of our product and the need for it in the market. We’re excited to continue growing and can’t wait to see what the future holds for DataRails.