March 27, 2024
min read

Precanto CEO Sandeep Madduri: Why I Founded Precanto

As a finance leader, I used almost every planning and forecasting solution in the market, on premises and in the cloud. 

None of them truly met my needs. 

That’s why I built Precanto: Because FP&A teams deserve a software purpose-built for their needs, powered by AI/ML. I also feel a chief executive officer with a deep finance background can offer the disciplined business leadership investors and advisors need in our post-pandemic economy, especially around headcount forecasting

Spreadsheets required hours of manual inputs and meetings with budget owners, where we often spent too much time debating which numbers were correct, and not enough time discussing the implications for growth. And the formulas were still never entirely correct, as the data I based my analysis on was already stale by the time it got to me, especially when I was working as a finance leader at large enterprise companies. 

Many planning solutions were built as input systems, where finance leaders simply typed in the budget or forecast numbers they had already modeled in spreadsheets. Today still, FP&A purpose-built and insights driven software remains one of the least-served markets in all of enterprise business. 

But I saw reason to hope. 

The advent of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation offers opportunities to disrupt the FP&A B2B SaaS marketplace in a truly revolutionary way. Not to replace finance leaders and their teams, but to support them in working smarter, faster, and in more strategy capacities. 

Of course, the reason why I built Precanto extends far deeper than the three-sentence elevator pitch. 

Rethinking Corporate Financial Forecasting With AI

Consider the rise of B2B tech over the past two decades. 

Spreadsheets revolutionized how FP&A teams assess budgets and build headcount forecasts, and other forecasts – in the 1990s. Kudos to the Excel team for building, and updating, such a game changing tool that still powers FP&A today. But many enterprise FP&A teams are running finances for multi-billion-dollar firms in software that debuted more than three decades ago. 

Such a corporate reliance on spreadsheets means senior and executive staff still spend hours mired in detailed, labor intensive, and error prone formula work. We see the impact in the labor pipeline – fewer would-be operators and accountants are entering enterprise finance. 

Companies feel this dichotomy in their bottom line. Spreadsheets don’t integrate with the other platforms businesses use to manage their finance functions. Enterprise resource planning tools abound, but they’re not purpose-built for FP&A. 

For example, one platform in the market today, often used for planning and forecasting, is more human-resources focused, targeting employee processes, with less guidance or direction for FP&A. Another is pure connected planning, but that’s different from an insights driven, AI/ML powered engine that can assess the real and current data, and also surface solutions and recommendations. 

Other software that purports to leverage artificial intelligence or create something new are not building true machine learning or, even worse, just recreating the spreadsheet. Data is not enriched. We all know the saying “garbage in, garbage out.” AI and machine learning recommendations are only as good as the data supplied to them – which means software that’s not also cleansing data may only offer an incremental improvement to the forecasting process. 

I built Precanto to do exactly that – assess and ingest the right data to power the right AI and machine learning to give FP&A professionals the support they need and, frankly, deserve. 

Today, FP&A teams are doing more with less – more demands on forecasting accuracy, more data to assess, less room for budgeting error, less staff, less time. They need software that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but instead truly supports their goals and needs, and those of the company as a whole. 

After more than 20 years in the field, I knew there had to be a better way to support finance leaders while driving more accurate forecasting, spend, growth and ultimately, profits. 

Benefits of Finance Leaders as Entrepreneurs

I’ve met with dozens of investors and experts in the past year, and of course, I am a student of the current economic climate and associated business development trends. 

I hear the same refrain, repeatedly: The VC party is over. Rising interest rates mean cash is more expensive. The days of investment billions flowing like beer taps in a Silicon Valley break room have ended. 

Today, investors want to see more devotion to the bottom line. Every dollar must count. Leadership needs to focus as much, if not more, on their operations over social media. Fewer ping pong tables; more data servers. 

I and my team of founders have built Precanto as if the free flowing cash of 2020 onward didn’t exist. Every hire we make is directly tied to growth goals. Every decision we make, we’ve already run through our own models. My head of marketing tells me to lean into that – I am my product’s own user audience, I am the FP&A lead focused on P&L at every turn. 

Building Precanto, Together

Go-to-market relies on pulling the right levers to hit the right audience at the right time with the right messaging. 

As someone building a company, I too am thinking deeply about the right levers to pull at the right time. 

If headcount spend is typically 60-80% of corporate expenditure, how can I optimize those costs for Precanto while driving the business and build strong team morale? 

One of the selling points of better headcount forecasting is lowering headcount reduction rounds – in other words, smarter forecasting means fewer layoffs. 

That’s one of the founding philosophies of Precanto. 

I ask four questions when considering steps to drive our growth: 

  • What business levers do we need to pull? 
  • Who do we need on our team to pull those levers?  
  • What’s the best way to invest in the right people to meet those needs? 
  • How can we extend runway, and build strong team morale?

My team also takes advantage of the incredible depth of our own professional networks. We have four founders, each of us with years of experience in business and technology firms that include rocket-ship growth, global distribution, and enterprise leadership. We have a roadmap for the present, and the future, so we can nurture talent from our network, and hire immediately when ready. 

We also leverage fractional leaders and consultants near term as we look to extend our runway, while giving those folks an opportunity to see if Precanto is the right opportunity for them to join full time, when we all are ready.

I, personally, want to build a business that offers opportunities for everyone to grow, no matter their background, experience, or location. 

Turnover is a wasted expense. 

I want my team to feel empowered, and I trust the team I’ve built to create a powerful future for Precanto and the FP&A leaders who we serve. It’s time to give back to the FP&A community with an insights driven forecasting engine that will make everyone’s lives better.

I hope you see this future as I do. 

Schedule a live demo today. 

Sandeep Madduri
CEO and Co-Founder, Precanto

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