Layer a Berlin-based web application. The company aims to make life easier for those dealing with massive spreadsheets and managing data inputs from across an organization. As for budgeting, financial or HR functions by adding granular control access on top. The layer is labeled as a productivity platform for spreadsheets that augments rather than replaces them. This is done atop of Google and Microsoft Excel Sheets files and brings them in a range of granular controls.
The startup’s productivity platform was founded in 2019 and remains in private beta for now and the rest of the year. Recently they have just nabbed €5 million (~$5.6M) in seed funding for launching the product in the market, with a launch pegged for Q1 2021.
The seed round is led by index ventures (Max Rimpel) and with participation from earlier backers to partners. The seed was also joined by Angel partners including Carlos Gonzales-Cadenaz (COO of Gocardless), Ajay Vashee (CFO at Dropbox), Max Tayenthal (co-founder and CFO of N26), Felix Jahn (founder and CEO off Mcmakler) and Matt Robinson (founder of Nested and GoCardless).
The idea is to offer a one-stop-shop for managing access and data flows around multi-stakeholder spreadsheets, providing access to individual cell levels and supporting collaboration. The productivity of these documents is increased by streaming the process of receiving and making data input requests.
Schunemann stated that “It can be started by uploading an excel file to a Layer web application, then workflows need to be built in a web app across a feature spectrum”. The web viewer enables users to highlight a group of cells they want to share by dragging a cursor.
“The user can do granular user provisioning and top of that manual carves out and manual copies can be created offline even after that input can be recovered again by request on email. The Layer app also enables the user to track changes made by his colleagues and he can accept changes without manually copy and pasting from different spreadsheets into one.”
Layer’s initial sales focus is on financial reporting functions. There are various tools for the users, given the ubiquity of spreadsheets as a business tool but their target users are organizations with 150 to 250 employees and not the enterprise market.
Schunemann said that “We believe it’s a big opportunity for us because dependence on spreadsheets is extremely high as almost 87% of budgeting is done through spreadsheets throughout the world and big ERP systems.”
He also added that collecting and sharing data is not only in finance functions but also between other departments and in every field.
Index’s rimple in his statement commented that “just as GitHub helped developers to contribute seamlessly to a single code base, Layer is now bringing sophisticated collaboration tools to these one billion spreadsheet users across the globe.” Moreover, Schunemann says that “We never want to be a new excel and not aiming to become Google Sheets.
By discussing the difference between Airtable (a database tool for non-coders) et al, he says “What Github is to code we want to be spreadsheets.” “We are really complementary to both big platforms, Google and Spreadsheets”. He also added that Layer views itself as complementary now and in the future because it augments both Excel and Google Sheets instead of pushing them out.
On the point of acquisition, Schunemann said it’s not only Google and Microsoft who are interesting exits for them. Other file hosting tools like Dropbox, CRM tools, and Salesforce because it very much integrates into the heart of any organization, yet they haven’t gone beyond that thought of who could acquire them at some point.