As cloud-based software becomes the norm for many functions inside of modern businesses, data silos are growing into an outsize problem. This is particularly true in the financial industry, where vendors are often faced with reconciling data from a diverse range of sources.
According to a 2022 survey from InterSystems — which, it should be noted, has a horse in the data reconciliation race, given that it’s a data tech provider — 62% of financial leaders say that improving access to siloed, distributed data will be one of their top initiatives in the next 12 months. Fifty-four percent cited data silos as one of their biggest barriers to innovation.
Albert Gozzi boldly claims that his company, Aleph, has the solution — or a solution, rather. Aleph allows finance and operations teams to centralize their financial data from disparate systems, including enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management platforms, and bring it directly into their spreadsheets with permissioning and version control.
“After years of working as a startup CFO and consultant at Bain, I was growing increasingly frustrated with the tools available to finance professionals,” Gozzi told TechCrunch in an email interview. “Everything was either old school and clunky, or tried to pull you out of Excel and learn a new arbitrary syntax. On top of that, the data I needed for my models was scattered across source systems. I saw a gap in the market and set out to fill it.”
Gozzi built the MVP for Aleph himself in 2020. In 2021, his co-founder, Santiago Perez De Rosso, joined him. Soon after, the duo was accepted into Y Combinator and signed their first customer.
At a high level, Aleph — which comes in cloud, web app and Excel and Google Sheets add-in flavors — makes software for financial planning and analysis. Using Aleph, customers can consolidate data from accounting systems, human resource information systems, applicant tracking systems and more, scheduling automatic data pulls and saving versions of financial models back into Aleph to maintain a single source of truth.
Aleph can track changes to incoming financial data, allowing customers to choose the level of data that they want to share and tap version history to review any changes in the saved financial models. Gozzi says that companies most commonly use the platform for month-end reporting, investor communications and variance analysis tasks.
“When you hit a certain point, you need a more robust tool that gives you instant access to your accounting data and helps you run your models quickly and more effectively,” Gozzi said. “Aleph believes that the best finance pros don’t need guidance and structure for their models — they need flexibility and power. That’s why we keep our users in Excel and Sheets, but give them all the benefits of a central database with all their financial data instantly accessible.”
Aleph claims to have found early success with brands including Turo, Envoy, Zapier and Postscript and around 40 others. It’s currently growing at a rate of around 10% to 15% month-over-month, Gozzi says — despite the broader economic slowdown.
That’s not to suggest that Aleph is without competitors in the market for financial planning and analysis tools — a ~$3.7 billion market as of 2022 by the way, according to Contrive Datum Insights. Gozzi rattled off who he sees as principle rivals, including incumbents like Anaplan and Adaptive; “out-of-excel” software such as Mosaic, Pigment, OnPlan and Casual; and “Excel-powered” solutions like Cube and DataRails.
It’s a large cohort. But Gozzi argues that Aleph’s technical superiority is winning over — and will continue to win over — prospective customers.
“Aleph can be set up with integrations in under 10 minutes, and requires very little training, if any,” he said. “On top of that, it feels much more fluid and modern from a usability perspective, and provides the greatest flexibility given its data model.
Perhaps that’s true. It’ll be incumbent on Aleph, though, to move customers away from multi-solution, multi-software setups. A 2021 survey from Advisor Software found that nearly 80% of financial advisors are using one or more, likely more, financial planning app or service — an increase of nearly 14% from the previous year. Absent consolidation, Aleph faces an uphill battle convincing users to rely exclusively on its product.
Aleph, which today announced that it raised $16.7 million in a funding round led by Bain Capital Ventures with participation from Khosla Ventures, Picus Capital and Y Combinator, plans to increase its 13-person workforce to 20 by the end of the year. Gozzi described Aleph’s runway as “very healthy” and the burn rate as “low” — a healthy place to be for a startup, without a doubt.