Announcing our Investment in Workscope
RLC Ventures is proud to have been part of Workscope’s seed round, raised in Q1 2020.
More than a billion individuals use spreadsheets globally. Over the years, tactical tools designed to solve specific operational problems have evolved into strategic desktop applications which support millions of business processes across almost every industry. End-user developed applications are very difficult to manage; their lack of governance has led to many crucial errors which for many organisations have become extremely costly.
As digital transformation becomes more important than ever and organisations look to increase productivity and reduced risk, companies are more willing than ever to pay for software solutions that help them achieve their goals. Workscope can help them achieve on these ambitions by helping organisations map, monitor and improve their spreadsheet environment without the manual overhead.
Given the increasing size and complexity of institutions, and the prevalence of remote work and access to data, we see these challenges becoming increasingly difficult to overcome. In this respect, our investment in Workscope fits our beliefs on the Future of Enterprise vertical extremely well.
What is Workscope?
Workscope (formerly Hub85) is an AI-driven SaaS platform that helps companies understand and manage their spreadsheets. Workscope will map data dependencies, flag errors and provide contextual insights which enables organisations to very quickly get a handle on where, how and why spreadsheets are used across an organisation.
These insights will ultimately reduce operational risk and give organisations the information they need to pinpoint efficiency opportunities and accelerate change. The solution addresses a $3 billion market as spreadsheets remain integral in the decision-making process, with organisations increasingly looking to technology to better manage their Shadow IT.
Who is behind it?
Our investment process requires a thorough review of the founding team which we see as the most critical factor for an early-stage venture.
Omar and Samuel co-founded Workscope with the vision to help organisations reveal risk and find value across their manual processes, whilst developing technology that makes sense of what is often an organisations largest unstructured dataset. Having worked together for a number of years, we are confident that the pair will complement and leverage each other’s skills, and build Workscope into the company we know it can be.
Omar has spent over 12 years specialising in security pricing and valuation. He spent 6 years working at PIMCO where he led the European pricing function. He has worked as a fixed income analyst for Interactive Data (acquired by ICE Data Services) and Bloomberg.
Samuel has specialised in Excel spreadsheet management. His focus has been working with organisations to standardize their Excel spreadsheet infrastructure and advise on best practice. Samuel has developed enterprise front office solutions for Morgan Stanley, BlueCrest Capital, BGC Partners, Barclays Capital, PIMCO, Danske Bank and Bloomberg. Samuel also ran Excel training courses for teams in Bloomberg
2020 has been an exciting year for Workscope so far. They were one of the seven companies accepted into ING’s Fintech Village for the year, and are currently in the PoC stage of the programme. In addition to ING, Workscope has been part of cohorts of London Business School, the Financial Conduct Authority, Accenture and NatWest for their respective venture development programmes.
Furthermore, they have signed a three-year contract with a Tier-2 multinational bank in addition to having pilots in progress. Considering the industrywide shift towards automation and digital transformation, coupled with the insights from Workscope’s conversations with over 30 financial institutions and counting, we expect many more successes in the near future.
The cost of a mistake is often only realised once the mistake has been made. If we take a look at just a number of the mistakes companies and institutions have faced in the past, the value of mitigating the risk is immense.
Market Insight: Top 5 Costly Spreadsheet Errors
- TransAlta. A cut and paste error in a spreadsheet cost this company $24 million. The mistake caused the Canadian power generator to buy more US power transmission hedging contracts at much higher prices than it should have.
- Fidelity. The company’s well-known Magellan fund was forced to cancel a $4.32/share year-end dividend distribution. The problem? A missing negative sign. A tax accountant omitted a minus sign when s(he) transcribed the net capital loss (of $1.3 billion) from the fund’s financial record to a spreadsheet. This turned the loss into a gain, causing the dividend estimate to be off by $2.6 billion.
- J.P. Morgan’s infamous London Whale debacle was caused by none other than an Excel user error. It seems the company was using spreadsheets to create value-at-risk (VaR) models, and an employee copied the wrong information from one spreadsheet and pasted it into another. The resulting model grossly understated the company’s risk and was a major factor in its $6 billion trading loss.
- Eastman Kodak Co.’s stock tumbled steeply in 2005, partly due to a last-minute accounting adjustment to correct an Excel error. In this case, the error was a simple typo: An employee added too many zeros to a particular severance accrual record, resulting in an $11 million overstatement.
- Even MI5 made a costly error. A formatting mistake on MI5 list of phones to be tapped resulted in the agency’s tapping 134 people entirely unrelated to investigations. The formatting error changed the last three digits of these phone numbers to 000 within the spreadsheet. As a result, random British citizens had their phones tapped by their government while the suspects went unobserved.
Aside from an excellent product that’s competing in a large and growing addressable market, the team’s ambition remains a core component to our investment decision. Omar and Sam have identified spreadsheet overreliance and the associated risk as a pervasive problem across numerous industries and geographies.
We are especially excited by how they are focused on building a scalable product that, although initially may seem more relevant for financial services, has the potential to reach far beyond.
At RLC Ventures we’re committed to helping the Workscope team achieve this by providing support beyond capital. We are leveraging our network and wealth of financial services experience to facilitate client acquisition and the recruiting of talent.
Workscope is the solution to the problem companies don’t think they will ever face until they do.
Unique to RLC Ventures is our Venture Pledge. All the founders we back nominate a cause of their choice, and in the event of an exit, a portion of the profits are distributed to their chosen cause.
Workscope have chosen Engineers Without Borders, a global community of engineers dedicated to making the planet greener, safer and fairer. We are delighted to be in a position to support our companies’ societal objectives and benefit the wider community.
Workscope is an excellent fit for RLC Ventures — from both a thesis and values perspective we are extremely excited to be working with them going forward.
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