The promise of data analytics technologies is that they will unlock insights and value hidden in plain sight. And for a company’s finance function, what could be clearer than the thousands of transaction lines in their ledgers? Enter Bunker, a Singapore-based analytics startup, which today announces the completion of a $5 million seed funding round as it seeks to accelerate its growth.
The inspiration for Bunker came from the Covid-19 crisis, says co-founder and CEO Shivom Sinha. “I was working in finance at a logistics company, and we had to completely reconfigure our strategy when the pandemic hit,” he recalls. “But doing that was really difficult because digging deep into our financial data was such a painful process.”
This may seem surprising – if a function were to top the company’s numbers, then finance surely would. But Sinha points out that for modern businesses, the granular details of their financial performance and arrangements are obscured by thousands of entries on transactional data logs – really digging into the data requires painstaking manual work. “It can be an exhausting process and it’s very easy to lose sight of the story,” he says.
Bunker’s solution is a cloud-based software application that connects to customers’ existing financial systems and enterprise resource planning platforms. It was built with the help of co-founder Jibrilia Alamsjah, CEO of Proyek Beta, which Bunker acquired when it launched.
Once the app is up and running, it queries corporate financial data to create dashboards and reports so strategic leaders can truly understand what’s going on at the transactional level. They can also make bespoke requests for analysis of a particular issue or problem – for example, a client used the software to identify approximately 50 vendors currently requiring payment within 30 days; he was then able to contact each customer and negotiate extensions to 60 days, in order to support the cash flow.
“Our goal is to extract every ounce of data from your system,” adds Sinha. “We want to make sure no stone is left unturned.” Typically, Bunker customers identify savings of at least 10% in operating expenses once they start using the software, he suggests.
It’s quite an assertion, but Bunker managed to win customers quickly. The company began rolling out the software to midsize businesses in the Asia-Pacific region in the third quarter of last year and has signed up around 40 customers so far.
The appeal, Sinha says, is that Bunker helps companies fill a skills gap. “Financial leaders don’t necessarily understand the fundamentals of accounting, while accountants often don’t know how to use those numbers to tell the company’s story,” he says. “Additionally, you need fairly technical expertise in data engineering in order to create a software solution that can help you.”
A simple user experience is vital for attracting customers, Sinha believes. Bunker says its systems can be integrated in days and business owners can learn to use them in minutes. That’s important since the CEO and CFO tend to be the primary users of the software when it’s first deployed, he says.
Investors have been interested in the business since its inception, providing pre-seed capital to help get it started. This latest round of seed funding involves investors such as Alpha JWC, January Capital, Northstar Group, GFC, Money Forward and a number of angels.
Alpha JWC Partner Eko Kurniadi says the platform will have particular resonance for companies trying to navigate economic volatility and upheaval, given the lingering macroeconomic 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 an essential tool for businesses to make those better and informed decisions. The platform provides comprehensive financial snapshots effortlessly so that the finance team can focus their time where their expertise is needed instead of on mundane, time-consuming tasks.
The fundraiser is expected to allow Bunker to develop a full-fledged go-to-market team, with Sinha initially focusing on targeting businesses in the Southeast Asian region. “It is a product without borders”, he stresses, expanding to other international markets as part of the medium and long-term plan.
Part of the funds raised will also be used to support product development, as Bunker wants to add sophistication to its software to target very large enterprises as well as mid-sized companies that currently make up the majority of customers.