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Siqi Chen, the previous head of Sandbox VR, an established VR experience firm, did not always possess a solid understanding of financial matters, which led to feelings of self-consciousness. He believed financial expertise was reserved for ‘serious business people’, allowing him to focus on product development and engineering – a belief he noted was common among founders.
After numerous complications with Excel, Chen felt compelled to develop a substitute. He founded Runway, a platform designed to replace spreadsheets with more intuitive workflows for financial modeling, planning, and reporting.
Runway, as described by Chen, is the inaugural strategic management platform aimed at modern, rapidly growing tech companies. It offers teams a holistic, enjoyable overview of their entire operation, including finance, HR, sales, marketing, product, and growth. This clarity allows them to make improved business decisions more rapidly.
The platform can link with existing accounting tools, data warehouses, and HR information systems, enabling users to craft formulas and develop models that can be integrated into business plans and possible scenarios. The reporting feature allows the creation of dashboards with real-time charts, tables, text, and even videos and web content. Runway’s AI “copilot” feature aids customers in creating scenarios by typing a prompt, with the system producing business plans based on a model and live data from connected apps.
Chen believes Runway increases business confidence by saving time, enhancing understanding, and providing context, enabling swifter execution. He argues that making business more understandable to people outside of finance gives companies a significant competitive edge.
However, whether Runway achieves all these is debatable. There are other platforms, such as Dougs and Firmbase, that offer similar services.
Despite competition, Runway has successfully drawn clients like Superhuman, Stability AI, and Sandbox VR, Chen’s former company. Chen highlights the close relationship with Rippling, where qualified customers get priority access to ensure employee data, payroll, and hiring plans are automatically synced.
Chen reveals the company’s impressive growth of more than 10x year-on-year and a fully booked pipeline for the rest of the year. Runway’s burn rate remains below $500,000.
Investors have taken notice. Runway recently raised $27.5 million in a Series A funding round, led by Initialized Capital, with participation from angel investors like Elad Gil and Jason Tan. This takes the company’s total funding to $33.5 million, after an undisclosed $5 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Chen concludes by stating that as a product that aids businesses in understanding their finances and planning better, Runway is in a privileged position. As businesses are becoming more financially disciplined, the demand for a product like Runway only increases.