Abacus is a simple, fast way for businesses to reimburse their employees for company expenses. On mobile. In real time.
They are re-imagining from the ground up how expense reporting would have worked, if it had been born mobile. Easily categorizing everything, and saving time on all that paperwork that no one likes doing anyway.
Which explains why their investors look like a who’s who of the tech world – on both coasts. Cofounder Omar Qari tells us how they closed the round in about a week.
Who were your investors?
The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and General Catalyst, with participation from CrunchFund, FundersClub, Google Ventures, Homebrew, Sherpalo, Patrick and John Collison of Stripe, Josh Reeves of ZenPayroll, Jeff Epstein, former CFO of Oracle and DoubleClick, Naval Ravikant of AngelList, Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail of Venmo, Adam Erlebacher of Simple, Nas and Paul Buchheit of Y Combinator.
Tell us about your product or service.
Abacus is replacing the expense report with the first realtime employee expense system.
How is it different?
We flipped the old expense report model on its head because as it turns out, software is better at aggregating data for reports than humans and coincidentally, people don’t want to do it anyway! Abacus helps employees submit faster, for example, by pulling in their location and autocategorizing expenses, and helps managers turn the realtime stream of company spend data into intelligent reports that are more meaningful to them.
What’s the most common line-item expense?
Without question, employees love their Uber rides
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We serve startup all the way up to several hundred employees. As well as businesses with less than 1,000 employees.
What’s your business model?
We have a monthly subscription model where companies pay $5 per active user.
What was the funding process like?
I don’t think our process was typical by any means, but we were in the fortunate position of coming out of Y Combinator with good momentum, so the actual process from beginning to handshake took about a week.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The hardest part is always defining your differentiators.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
I wouldn’t want to speak on their behalf, but I felt we shared this mutual belief that mobile was going to change what’s possible in the enterprise back office, the same way it had done for consumer and started to do in the enterprise front-office. Also, those changes would come first to small businesses in the form of employee-first experiences.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
When we first launched, Abacus was a quick and simple way to reimburse your employees – it ended up looking a lot like a Venmo for companies. Now that we’re serving companies with hundreds of users, we’re focused on building out the robust controls that they require.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Don’t be in such a rush to raise. Ted, Josh and I were more than a year into Abacus when we raised – we were already serving more than 50 customers and generating baby revenue. It’s so inexpensive to start a company now.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
It’s all about growing the customer base and building out the experience .
Which is your favorite local pub, whether or not you’re going to expense it?
I don’t know if this counts, but we were at SPiN a couple of blocks from our office for Josh’s birthday – if you’re into unlimited ping pong balls with your drinks.