That’s the dream, right? The dawn of the internet age has presented us with data in infinite forms, mountains of untapped information waiting to be mined, refined, and turned into sparkling gold. Many companies are reaping the benefits of this data revolution — the more data one has about their business, the better the chances of being able to understand that business in a more advanced way. It’s this refinement process (being able to take data, understand what it means, and how it helps) that becomes crucial as raw data numbers continue to increase.
So how does this process happen? How is data chiseled into information, then polished into knowledge? Why do I keep using rock and mining metaphors to describe data? For a small business owner, what would be the most beneficial area to turn data into knowledge?
These are the questions Justin Hatch, CEO of Startegy, is setting out to solve. More specifically, he’s focused on providing a platform to small business owners that uses this data refinement process to attack the arch-nemesis of most early-stage CEOs: accounting.
“Startegy is a software that asks a few questions, then we really focus on keeping things in layman’s terms, rather than getting into specifics of net present value and other hardcore accounting metrics,” said Hatch. “We want to keep things simple and ask really simple questions about the business, then give them really simple data back. And give that in actionable format.”
Accounting data, simplified — that’s the goal of Startegy. A small business owner provides their accounting data, specifies any goals and metrics they are striving to reach, and Startegy turns this into accounting knowledge, helping to see simple things like, “How many units do I need to sell this month?” and “What’s my total fixed cost?”
Hatch, a former VP of Operations in the gas industry, recalls a conversation he once had with a superior. At the time, their company sold systems for $2,000 a pop. Wanting to purchase a Bobcat that cost $20,000, his boss declared they needed to sell 10 systems in order to pay for the purchase. If you just heard a sound, don’t worry, that’s the collective forehead slap of everyone reading this who knows anything about gross profit margin.
The point Hatch is getting at is warranted: small business accounting is hard because many people struggle with simple concepts, much less the complex ones.
“People don’t want to live in the spreadsheet world, they want to live in a world that’s giving them very understandable, very pure, very distilled data,” said Hatch. “So they don’t have to try and interpret.”
If Startegy capitalizes on its own vision, their platform will act as the interpreter between a small business owner and their accounting data. Data is entered into the platform and through the wonderful process of code, this data is refined into accounting knowledge that any owner can use to make simple decisions about their company’s finances — decisions that don’t require heightened knowledge of the principles of accounting.
As a 21-year-old, Hatch started his first business. Like many a young startup owner, he struggled with the nuances of small business accounting. And like many a young startup owner, this realization occurred through baptism by fire.
“I was always running away from this wave of expenses coming after me because I never really understood my business,” said Hatch. “So I had this very real, very painful experience with a business. I eventually figured it out, but it took me six years before I felt like I was in a good place. Six years, while my wife was biting her fingernails and wondering how are we going to pay these bills.”
This is the area that Hatch hopes to make a difference. He is launching Startegy with the express purpose of providing simple yet valuable accounting insights for early-stage companies — “forecasting for small businesses,” according to the website. He’s felt the pain of being a small business owner afloat in a sea of accounting data, and he knows the value of what happens when that data can become something more.
“We don’t ever want to operate in the data space,” said Hatch. “We want to operate one level above it, in the information space. Or two levels above, in knowledge.”