How Summit’s Matt Wensing is challenging Excel spreadsheets and reinventing financial models

How Summit’s Matt Wensing is challenging Excel spreadsheets and reinventing financial models

Serial entrepreneur. Lego block analogist. Summit founder & CEO.

Matt Wensing is the plucky David taking on an outdated but Goliath competition—Excel spreadsheets in financial departments everywhere.

And he’s doing it by bridging innovation, relatable branding, and a financial modeling platform that anyone can use.

The question that started Summit

Matt was confident in his financial know-how until he was hit with a question about his sales cycle that Excel couldn’t easily answer.

The question was: If your sales cycles extend from what they are today, which is approximately 30-60 days to 90-120 days, what's that going to do to your business?

Matt realized that the answer to that question wouldn’t be simple - and finding them with an Excel-based model would be too time-consuming and complex.

Messaging that hits home

Summit’s mantra is: speak quietly and carry a big message that pushes your users right where it (currently) hurts.

Summit’s website targets commonplace frustrations with Excel models to capture his audience’s attention.

“There's this love-hate dynamic. And because of that, the H1 there says, ‘Tell your forecasting spreadsheet, you're never getting back together,’” Matt said.

By capturing that visceral customer emotion, the message appeals to the frustrations users face with Excel and positions Summit as a stress-free alternative.

Summit’s customer-led approach

To compete with Excel’s customizable model, Summit had to become a language - not a product.

In that way, users can work within Summit’s programming environment to individualize their financial models and manipulate the platform as needed.

“For Summit, I've chosen an approach of building a better language, a better programming environment for financial modeling, as opposed to just a product. Because I don't think you can build you can't beat a language with a product. You can only be the language of the better language,” said Matt.

The global market vs. Excel

Everyone’s got their own dialect of Excel - and that’s killing collaboration in a global workforce.

Matt pointed out three major trends that are minimizing Excel’s usefulness in the financial space. The first is the need for a collaborative format that’s easy to coordinate over a global team.

“The more valuable a spreadsheet is to an individual, the less valuable it is to the group. So much individualism, idiosyncratic statements, dialects, ways of doing things, structures that are unique to my mental models, all get infused into the sheet,” Matt explained.

“That puts the ‘anything-goes’ approach to development at odds with the internet itself, in terms of collaboration and protocols that interoperate with one another,” he said.

The challenge of new economic activities

As businesses rely more on subscription-based services, spreadsheets are missing an easy way to model new economic activity types.

“You can create subscription revenue in Excel, but the fact is that it's so hard to properly model cohort-based retention and retention analysis in a spreadsheet. Call it a difficulty level of 50 - and there's pressure for it to become a 5, because there's a thousand times more subscription revenue activity going on in the world than there was 30 years ago,” said Matt.

As businesses need to model cohorts, retention, subscriptions, plans, tiers, and pricing, their trusty spreadsheet processes aren’t keeping up with the trend.

VC’s growing interest in financial health

In today’s market, presenting a financially sound business is more critical than unicorn growth when it comes to landing VC investments.

“Founders and early-stage operators are being asked to produce models that are much more rigorous much earlier in their life cycle than they did 10, 20 years ago to get that $300,000 loan for a business doing $300,000 a year in revenue,” Matt said.

If your models are flimsy, Matt points out, the appeal of charismatic founders or a hot market may not be enough to secure funding.

When growth hits the wall

Companies may get away with poor financial practices for a while - but everyone reaches a stalled point that encourages revaluation.

Typically, that realization comes when the founder lacks new ideas to drive growth in place of in-depth business awareness.

“If they hit that asymptote, the founder goes, ‘Oh yeah, but we haven't launched X yet.’

Well, they go launch X and maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. But when they get to the point where they're at an asymptote and the founder is no longer confident that if they turn this dial, they're going to get more growth. Then you really find this point of, I need to understand the levers in my business,” said Matt.

Financial models that talk back

When companies hit a plateau, founders realize that their financial models aren’t giving them new data or insights - and start looking for a change.

“The stage at which they switch varies, but a lot of it has to do with the acknowledgment that I no longer understand my business sufficiently well. Therefore I need a model that is in many ways smarter than me, that I can ask questions, and it tells me things that I didn't know before. As opposed to that early stage of, ‘I'll tell this spreadsheet what growth I'm going to get,’ which is literally the opposite mindset of a mature approach,” Matt said.

With its adaptive and flexible platform, Summit is a financial model that holds up its end of the conversation for data-driven value.

Speaking the founder’s language

Matt designed Summit’s UX to fit the skillset and tech needs of non-CFO founders.

While a blank spreadsheet is challenging for founders to use effectively, Summit’s plug & play platform allows them to use events, activities and plans to automatically generate and revise their reports.

“It's this moment of joy, where they go, wait a minute. I can just come back into this one thing and change this number. And then I can hit rebuild. And the spreadsheet builds itself in a way that means I'm not going to embarrass myself when I show it to those people,” said Matt

In essence, Summit bridges the divide between how founders think of growth and the technical details needed for modeling.

Climbing towards a collaborative future

As an early-stage platform, Summit is trusting current users to direct the growth of features and possibilities.

According to Matt, the traditional route to growth is synonymous with handing companies a bucket of Legos and wishing them luck on building a house with the static pieces provided.

“Where I want to go over the next 12 months is actually allowing our own users to design their own Lego pieces. And therefore there's really no end, whatever they can imagine they can do. And that's fully possible within Summit,” said Matt.

Matt envisions Summit as a productive playground for businesses. In this new world, companies will be able to create the financial models they need - and kick manual spreadsheets to the curb for good.

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