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The Role Forward

Brian Campbell on Making Sense of SaaS Billing Data

In this episode of The Role Forward, Brian Campbell, a Co-Founder of Mosaic, discusses the process he has gone through with the Mosaic data team to provide more granular visibility into SaaS billing data.

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Episode Summary

In this episode of The Role Forward, Joe Michalowski hosts Brian Campbell, the co-founder at Mosaic. The two delve deep into the world of strategic finance, discussing the challenges and solutions of handling high-volume data.

Brian shares his experience working with Stripe, a platform often used by B2C and product-led growth companies. He highlights the rigidity of billing systems and the difficulty of changing historical data. The conversation then shifts to the importance of data cleanliness and setting up efficient processes to make sense of billing data.

The podcast wraps up with Brian encouraging finance leaders to focus on setting up processes that ensure the best possible data quality. This episode is a must-listen for anyone dealing with high-volume data and seeking insights into strategic finance.

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Featured Guest

Brian Campbell

Co-Founder, Mosaic

Brian started his career as a Y Combinator-backed founder before moving into a financial analyst role at Palantir. After five years working in financial operations and strategy, he moved on from Palantir to join Everlaw as the company’s Director of Finance. In each finance role, Brian took on the technical work of integrating data from multiple source systems to create a single source of truth for all financial and operational information. But he recognized the need for a more automated solution. He joined Bijan Moallemi and Joe Garafalo to start Mosaic in 2019 and build the Strategic Finance Platform to streamline traditionally manual finance processes.

Key Themes from the Episode
  • High-volume data is a finance problem, especially in B2C and product-led growth companies. And the rigidity of a billing systems like Stripe make it difficult to fully understand that data.
  • One of the best ways to ensure data accuracy is by looking at the outputs and setting up strategies for success. This insight underscores the importance of having clean data as the foundation for any analysis or decision-making process.
  • There are diminishing returns to perfectionism with data. It's never going to be perfect. Brian encourages listeners to accept this reality and focus on setting up processes that ensure the best possible data quality. This insight is a reminder that while striving for perfection is good, it's also important to be pragmatic and work with what's available.

Episode Highlights from Brian Campbell

4:21 — Understanding the Stripe User Base

Brian explains the type of companies that typically use Stripe as their source of revenue truth. He mentions that these are usually B2C or product-led growth companies with high data volume. The discussion highlights the contrast between these companies and those that use platforms like Salesforce for enterprise contracts. Brian also touches on the challenges these companies face due to the rigidity of billing systems and the high volume of data.

“B2C or product-led growth, where people can self-serve, sign up and automate that process is phenomenal for a lot of reasons. The issue you get into, though, is one tremendous data volume cuz it’s just happening all the time.”

9:44 — The Power of Centralized Data

Brian mentions centralization when discussing methods of storing data. He talks about the need to join data from different systems together, highlighting the limitations of other systems in this regard. This part of the conversation emphasizes the value of having a single place where all data can be accessed, filtered, and analyzed.

“You want one place you can go; it’s all centralized. You can drill down. You can filter, you can show your numbers kinda all in one place.”

10:32 — Granularity in Data: A Rising Demand

Joe and Brian discuss the increasing demand for granularity in data. They talk about how investors and other stakeholders want to see detailed data, not just high-level metrics. This conversation highlights the importance of providing detailed and granular data to meet the demands of various stakeholders.

“Really being able to understand, okay, well, where is this coming from? Why is this happening? And so Mosaic lets you drill into exactly what’s going on.”

16:04 — Unraveling Billing Data Complexity

Brian delves into the process of making sense of billing data. He explains how they look at every detail of historical data, factoring in credit memos, refunds, and time zones. The discussion then shifts to how they handle current month data, emphasizing the importance of having a comprehensive view. This part of the conversation underscores the complexity of managing billing data and the need for efficient processes.

“We’re looking at every single invoice, every single probation line, what’s the amount, what’s the quantity, are there discounts included? All of that is factored in. And so you have this rich bottoms up every detail for your historical data.”

Full Transcript