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Excel and Google Sheets can only address pure ‘number crunching’ in a limited way. A new UK startup, Causal hopes to tackle this issue and has now raised a $4.2 million seed round led by Accel. Existing investors Coatue, Passion Capital, Verissimo Ventures, Naval Ravikant, Varadh Jain and others, also participated. The raise brings Causal’s total funding to $5.5 million, which the company will use to grow the engineering team and launch on Product Hunt next month.

Despite the fact that spreadsheets are crucial to normal business operations, there are multiple use cases for sales teams, finances teams etc, all of which are very different. Causal hopes to address these with a more data-driven, collaborative approach.

Founded in 2019 by Taimur Abdaal and Lukas Koebis, Causal is “aiming to replace Excel” by starting with the spreadsheet’s foundation: formulas”. Causal says its formulas “read like plain English” such “as Profit = Revenue – Costs” and also claims it typically takes “100x fewer formulas” in Causal to build exactly the same model in Excel.

“Business planning and forecasting should involve every team in a company, but the complexity of spreadsheets means that it’s often siloed within finance,” said Taimur Abdaal, CEO and co-founder in a statement. “We want to democratize this process with a truly horizontal product that every knowledge worker can use, and we’re excited to have Accel join us on the next phase of our journey.”

Over a call Abdaal told me: “We started really because we saw how difficult it is to actually work with numbers and spreadsheets. You have these esoteric formulas that are really hard to understand which is why something like 80% of spreadsheets have errors in them. Spreadsheets are also really disconnected from the other tools that companies use. Finance teams typically spend days with everyone manually pulling in data from accounting systems. So, these are some of the problems that we’re trying to solve. Right now we are a pretty small team of five, mostly engineers, and we’re really focused on building a very horizontal product that every team in a company can use for number crunching. As a seed investment it’s really, really nice because it lets us double down on some of the traction that we’ve gotten.”

“Many of us have felt the pain that comes with building and managing large spreadsheets across teams and data sources firsthand,” added Seth Pierrepont, Partner at Accel. “Taimur and Lukas are talented, product-focused founders who have taken the intuitive Excel-like interface that we’re all familiar with, and supercharged it with data integrations, collaboration features, and high-quality visualizations. Beyond that, they’ve leveraged their data science and mathematics backgrounds to offer sophisticated models out of the box, giving all users the ability to harness much more powerful predictive capabilities.”

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