“Wouldn’t it be funny to name our cash flow and contract management app Cassie?”

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Author
Bradford Toney
Updated At
2023-11-15
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Managing financial planning through COVID-19

Mid-pandemic in 2020, we packed a bag and our dog, and uprooted our lives in New York to be digital nomads traveling through Central America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa for half a year. At that time New York was a dark place - winter was coming, apartments and streets were empty and businesses were shuttering every week. As tech executives in fintech, work was busier than ever, and we felt our entire lives were boxed in high rise apartments, passing through a blur of zoom calls and google docs and spreadsheets.

Although we were working at different tech companies, we found ourselves dealing with similarly intense and stressful financial initiatives on a day by day basis. We were tasked with micromanaging company cash flow during a period of unstable capital markets, repeatedly reforecasting and monitoring every cent that exited and entered the books. Meanwhile, the business didn’t stop for the pandemic - there were still growth targets to hit and operations were expected to be perfect.

To try and get things right, our teams were spending countless hours poring over the financials.

They burned countless hours on:

  • Investigating discrepancies
  • Analyzing trends and variances
  • Manually updating the forecast with detailed spend at the vendor level
  • Excel bugs
  • Data entry errors
  • Versioning issues with various analyses and the model

Finally, after many late nights and weeks, the monthly financial planning process would be complete.

But, we’d often find out that even after all that work, even after a forecast was “perfected”, the ground that had shifted beneath the forecast as agreements on the revenue and expense side were constantly getting repapered on an ongoing basis, causing forecasts to be out of date before they were even finalized.

Desperately optimizing internet service on multiple sims, to work on financial planning

Our teams were spending upwards of 80 hours a month to go through this cycle. Every error added hours of work to reconciliation.

There had to be a better way.

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Desperate to find a better FP&A Solution

Our immediate first step was to research the market, analyze countless existing solutions, and assess them for fit at our companies. We spoke with 20-30 providers to try and find an out of the box solution that was flexible enough to meet our needs, and could provide a similarly modern, intuitive experience like the technology tools we were used to working with (slack, gmail, notion, zoom).

None of them fully met the needs of our business due to a number of issues:

  • They were too expensive and the pricing was not-transparent
  • They required multi-month set ups
  • Add-ons were confusing and priced inconsistently
  • Of the packaged solutions, we would be paying for a lot of functionality that we wouldn’t need to use
  • User interfaces looked challenging to use, and didn’t connect easily to other systems
  • Solutions were too narrow and didn’t solve the pain points end to end. Which meant having to buy multiple solutions in order to implement our vision.
  • Lack of collaboration

The search for a pre-built financial planning and contracting solution was a complete failure and just left us more frustrated than when we started. We asked many other finance and legal professionals in our network for advice on how they handled this, and they also expressed similar frustrations with no immediate solution.

Clearly, we were not alone in our pain.

Because of the lack of a solution, we resigned ourselves to solving this by establishing a manual string of operations and training team members to manually compensate where a tool could not.

Even today, the FP&A processes at our respective companies still take around 40-60 hours a month.

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Building the MVP around SMB pain points

Although we failed in optimizing the FP&A process for our respective companies, we couldn’t get the idea of a better solution out of our minds. It was baffling to think of how many small and medium sized businesses exist, and how much time was potentially being wasted in administrative data entry in an effort to get financial and contract visibility.

Time is the most valuable resource for a growing businesses. As owner-operators in small businesses of our own, we understood the pain of not having enough time in the day to focus on the business itself. There had to be a way to reduce the time spent on manual things like digging up contracts and keeping track of your vendor spend. We wanted to help business owners grow their businesses, not bury them in paperwork and spreadsheets. What better way than to make financial planning and analysis easy, intuitive, and accessible?

We decided to take action and create a better solution.

We set off to build:

  • A place where finance, legal and business teams could collaborate in one platform. Centralize files, forecasts and communications. And make it searchable.
  • A simple and intuitive interface. Most finance tools we looked at were either stuck in 2000s design systems (ala excel style) or were unintuitive to use. We wanted a slack like user experience while still providing the detail and granularity that finance individuals expect from an analytical platform.
  • A platform purpose built for SMBs. Most tools available in market are built for enterprise companies. The onboarding curve is long and painful, and the cost is prohibitively expensive. We wanted to design for SMBs, cutting down onboarding time from weeks to hours, and ensuring that the existing functionality addresses the most important needs of this segment of businesses.

The platform began as a side project in 2021. We spent countless hours designing and developing the platform.

And today, we are finally ready to introduce it to the world.

Working on the app in Egypt

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Introducing Cassie

Launching Cassie

We are excited to launch Cassie as the operating system for growing businesses, where finance and legal come together to plan, analyze, and forecast with confidence.

We empower growing businesses to analyze the present and plan for the future by providing simple and integrated finance and legal tools.

Why “Cassie” do you ask? When we were traveling through some ancient Greek sites, we joked - “Wouldn’t it be funny for a finance startup to be named after Cassandra the oracle?” Cassandra was a Greek oracle that was cursed to be never believed. The name stuck, and is a punny reminder of the struggles that we, and many others in finance and legal, face with our predictions not being listened to.

We hope Cassie will change the way finance, legal and business teams work. With Cassie, you'll be able to manage your contracts and cash flows in one place, saving time and streamlining operations. Say goodbye to tedious Excel spreadsheets and hello to a new era of financial management and forecasting. Get ready to experience the power of Cassie!

Check it out at: https://www.cassiefinance.com/.

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