When Yoni first got in touch with me about what he was doing at MRGN, I was immediately interested in his vision. My experience serving clients as a public accountant and my years of internal finance in the start-up world had given me a clear sense of the value of the imagined product. I had known and worked with a lot of small business leaders. While they were all motivated and resourceful, most of them did not want to spend hours poring over spreadsheets. Financial management was often that overwhelming chore they couldn’t really afford to spend the time or money it would take to get right. MRGN would address this pain point by simply taking the user’s basic numbers and using them to generate budgets and forecasts without all the spreadsheets. I knew how helpful small teams would find MRGN if it could allow anyone to effectively moonlight as CFO.
Small company teams are lean, but usually, they’re also versatile and full of knowledge. That’s part of what lends them their hallmark agility. Being able to adapt quickly to shifting circumstances enables small and emerging organizations to compete by staying responsive to their markets and customers. When time that could be used on revenue-generation disappears down a black hole of hours spent on error-prone, manual manipulations, that agile edge takes a hit. The last few years have given us all a healthy respect for the power of unexpected circumstances. Business leaders are best prepared when they assume that pressure points will develop and that recalibrations will be necessary. For a team without internal finance operations, this poses a particular challenge. Being able to use a solution like MRGN to quickly forecast and compare a range of scenarios vastly improves the ability of a small organization to play to its strengths. Instead of stressing over unwieldy number cells, they can focus on making the right decisions in real time and moving forward with confidence.
In the business world, no matter the industry, the thing that unites us all is our numbers. Along with my appreciation for people and analysis, that was actually one of the things that first attracted me to accounting and finance. I knew that my skillset would allow me to work across industries and locations, because it touches them all. MRGN’s focus on this area of business operations coupled with its user-friendliness and range of features, lends it similar versatility. In every sector, small-scale operations are governed and propelled by the same numbers game that drives larger ones, but while the bigger fish hire professionals, companies with less market share are often forced to wing it. I’m excited about the potential MRGN offers to users across the small business sector to close this gap and succeed.
The last three years have been a weird and wild adventure. The ups and downs, trials and tribulations of a startup are absolutely unpredictable. We’ve shuffled through several software engineers, hit walls with fundraising, didn’t necessarily know what we were doing all the time, but that is all to be expected.
As all of that was happening, we had to keep our sites on the future development and growth of, what was a side project, and is now a fully fledged organization. We honed in on a vision, raised capital, and found a stride with our engineering team, thanks to our rockstar CTO, Vivek Elayidom.
Fast forward to October 1st, 2022, just a week or so ago, and we’re finally live and available for the world to employ. The platform is stable, and we are continuing to build more and more features that are solely focused on bringing value to the customer.
We are so thankful for those who have helped us along the way; DataPower Ventures and Ride Home Fund, for the belief and support in their investments. Des Hague and Bonnie Siegel, for their guidance. Jeremy Sterns, Chris Sanchez, Max Lapping, Will Frederick, Sam Sudakoff, Lee Offir, and so many other advisors that have leant their vast knowledge and experience to MRGN’s aspirations. And, to the countless new friends and colleagues that have opened their networks to us.
Looking forward, we are close to terms on more investment capital than we asked for, we’ll be launching some substantial improvements to the platform in the coming months, and we are participating in four large conference competitions, all of which have advanced us to the quarter and semi final rounds. We’ve received a commitment from a large restaurant chain to onboard in the coming months, and will have a proposal in with the mayor of one of the most tech-supporting cities in the country.
But! And, there’s always a “but”. We have a long way to go before we make the impact on small businesses that we’ve envisioned. Small businesses are still suffering, and we must change that!
Thank you again to all those who have supported MRGN’s journey for the last three years. We can’t wait to see what’s in store!
Approximately five years ago, my CEO asked me to model out a 15% monthly burn (expense) rate reduction by the following day. As the company was in high-growth mode, with 100 or so employees and $4M in revenue, cutting $150k of our $1M burn was not going to be a 24-hour long task. So, I set out to find a solution.
I had been building financial/budget models for years, and already grew tired of creating them from scratch, maintaining them in spreadsheets, along with mounds of human error, and the fact that this unsecured file would be stored on my local laptop, with no CFO to give us detailed insights into our finances, made me realize that my team and I were battling a lack of innovation (and finance acumen).
The small-to-medium business sector had been long neglected in terms of operations and finance tooling. Larger companies had enjoyed the luxury of their grand ERPS; SAP, Oracle, NetSuite etc., and the mid-market saw growth in platform’s like Anaplan’s. Still though, SMBs have been suffering for far too long.
I set out to find the elusive better mouse trap…and found one! Without naming names, it was a SaaS platform purpose-built for our exact use case. What went wrong? The platform was run by a one man show, former CFO, without much experience with software engineering or UX/UI design. Unfortunately, the platform was nearly impossible to navigate, and folded shortly thereafter. I was, of course, devastated at the thought of having to continue to build and maintain my models manually.
Fast forward to October of 2019. My wife and I had just gotten back from our honeymoon in Asia, having just escaped the Hong Kong riots and the birth of COVID-19. My best friend and business partner, Scott, and I were on a road trip, discussing some of the trials and tribulations of our day-to-day lives at work, and the eureka moment hit! We were both suffering from the same lack of tooling. We looked at each other and said, “Let’s do this!”.
I had spent many years in the venture ecosystem, having helped raise over $250M for a variety of businesses, including an IPO to the OTCBB, and an up-list to the NYSE. I had just gotten married, and it was the holiday season. Scott was an accomplished project manager, and had just closed the deal of a lifetime, which brought him geographically closer to myself, and the world’s business epicenter. All of the stars had aligned and euphoria set in – we were going to do this.
My next post will pick up from where this one leaves off, discussing the peaks and valleys of startup life. Thanks for making it this far, and here’s to an amazing 2022!