The promise of data analytics technologies is that they will unlock insight and value hiding in plain sight. And for the finance function in a business, what could be plainer than the thousands of rows of transactions sitting in their general ledgers? Enter Bunker, a Singapore-based analytics start-up, which is today announcing the completion of a £5 million seed funding round as it seeks to accelerate growth.
The inspiration for Bunker came out of the Covid-19 crisis, explains co-founder and CEO Shivom Sinha. “I was working in finance at a logistics business, and we needed to completely reconfigure our strategy when the pandemic hit,” he recalls. “But doing that was really challenging because digging deep into our financial data was such a painful process.”
That might sound surprising – if any function should be on top of the company’s numbers, then finance would surely be it. But Sinha points out that for modern enterprises, the granular detail of their financial performance and arrangements is obscured in thousands of entries on ledgers of transactional data – really drilling down into the data requires painstaking manual work. “It can be a gruelling process and it is very easy to lose sight of the story,” he says.
Bunker’s solution is a cloud-based software application that plugs into the clients’ existing financial systems and enterprise resource planning platforms. It was built with the help of co-founder Jibrilia Alamsjah, the CEO of Proyek Beta, which Bunker acquired as it launched.
Once the app is up and running, it interrogates the business’s financial data in order to create dashboards and reports so that strategic leaders can really understand what’s going on at a transactional level. They can also make bespoke requests for analysis of a particular issue or pain point – for example, one client used the software to identify around 50 vendors currently requiring payment within 30 days; it was then able to contact each client and negotiate extensions to 60 days, in order to support cashflow.
“Our goal is to milk every ounce of data in your system,” Sinha adds. “We want to make sure that no stone gets left unturned.” Typically, Bunker’s clients identify cost savings of at least 10% of operating expenditure once they start using the software, he suggests.
That’s quite a claim, but Bunker has been able to win clients quickly. The company began pitching the software to medium-sized enterprises across the Asia Pacific region in the third quarter of last year and has so far signed up around 40 customers.
The allure, Sinha says, is that Bunker helps businesses bridge a skills gap. “Finance leaders don’t necessarily understand the fundamentals of accounting, while accountants often don’t understand how to use those numbers to tell the story of the business,” he says. “In addition, you need quite technical data engineering expertise in order to build a software solution that can help.”
A simple user experience is vital for customer traction, Sinha believes. Bunker says its systems can be onboarded in a matter of days and that business leaders can learn to use it in a few minutes. That’s important since the CEO and CFO tend to be the primary users of the software when it first deploys, he says.
Investors have taken an interest in the business since its early days, providing pre-seed capital to help it get off the ground. This latest round of seed funding involves investors including Alpha JWC, January Capital, Northstar Group, GFC, Money Forward and a number of angels.
Eko Kurniadi, a partner at Alpha JWC, says the platform will have particular resonance for businesses trying to cope with economic volatility and upheaval, given ongoing macro uncertainties.
“Now is the time to focus on a bottom-up approach and for businesses to have complete visibility and control over their finances,” Kurniadi says. “Bunker would be a pivotal tool for businesses to make those better and informed decisions. The platform provides comprehensive financial snapshots effortlessly so that the finance team can devote their time to where their expertise is needed instead of spending it on mundane and time-consuming tasks.”
The fundraising should allow Bunker to develop a fully-fledged go-to-market team, with Sinha initially focused on targeting businesses across the South-East Asia region. “This is a borderless product,” he points out, with expansion to other international markets part of the medium to longer-term plan.
Some of the money raised will also support further product development, with Bunker keen to add sophistication to its software in order to target very large enterprises as well as the medium-sized businesses that currently account for the majority of clients.