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Aneal Vallurupalli on Financial Data Management

In this episode of The Role Forward, we are joined by Aneal Vallurupalli, the CFO of Airbase. Aneal shares what it is like to build a data-driven company, the importance of creating a data engineering infrastructure, and how a freemium model helps companies add value to their customers' experience.

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Aneal Vallurupalli on Financial Data Management

Episode Summary

With data becoming the most valuable asset, most companies, regardless of their size, work on ways to better leverage information and drive their business growth. But becoming a data-driven company requires several technical and administrative changes.

The success of such a venture depends on collaborative work between all the departments within your company. It also requires the help of a professional with a background in finance (mostly) or business analytics and consulting.

In this episode of The Role Forward, we are joined by Aneal Vallurupalli, the CFO of Airbase. Aneal shares what it is like to build a data-driven company, the importance of creating a data engineering infrastructure, and how a freemium model helps companies add value to their customers’ experience.

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Featured Guest

Aneal Vallurupalli

CFO, Airbase

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Aneal Vallurupalli is the Chief Financial Officer at Airbase. His background includes early- to late-stage corporate finance, corporate development, operations, and tech M&A. Most recently, Aneal was the Vice President of Finance & Operations at Mattermost, where he still serves as an advisor. At Mattermost, Aneal grew the company’s enterprise value — with a 4x increase in revenue growth and by leading the $50M Series B. Prior to that, he was the Head of Strategic Finance at Mapbox, where he led the company’s $164M Series C round of funding from SoftBank, and was the founding member of the Corporate Development team at Guidewire (NYSE:GWRE), helping to grow it from a $800M private company to a $7B public company.

Key Themes from the Episode
  • Building a data infrastructure should be a collaborative effort with the entire company.
  • Following a one-size-fits-all playbook for data management is dangerous. But there are overarching principles any business can apply.
  • There has to be a delicate balance between how much you invest in the future and how much you invest in the present when it comes to data management and analytics.

Episode Highlights from Aneal Vallurupalli

4:45 — Becoming a Data-Driven Business

”What you’re looking to do with that is, selfishly, from finance; it makes our lives much easier. But we are the ones who are oftentimes looking at datasets that touch various parts of the organization: everything from product usage to customer data, software subscriptions and your renewals, et cetera.

You can see that it spans the whole gamut, even down to the internal usage of our product or our software systems. And so, with that in mind, you can see that if we can’t answer questions quickly, then we’re unable to make strategic decisions quickly.

And at this stage of a business, when you’re a Series A, B, C, or D business, waiting a month or two to make strategic decisions compete for the difference between having that incremental or hockey stick growth, especially when you compound it across tens of decisions that need to be made in every part of the org.”

6:26 — Building a Data Engineering Infrastructure vs. Focusing on Financial Data Management

”There are similarities, and ultimately, I think it comes down to what you are doing, how much of the data you are leveraging for reporting purposes, and how much of the data is being used to operate the business.

Example: the billing systems. You can revamp your entire billings architecture to go pay-as-you-go. You can go low-touch, no-friction, or ask for a credit card swipe upfront.

But in order to enable that on the data engineering backend to go to low-friction or zero-friction adoption — call it product-led growth motion — you need to integrate something like Stripe. You then need to create a billings and licensing API provisioning tool that automatically knows that this customer has input a credit card. I need to then send out a subscription link for them to click and start using the product, and then start billing based on that.”

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