Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

How One Business Transforms Everyday Spreadsheets Into Sophisticated Financial-Planning Tools

DataRails CEO Didi Gurfinkel talks with 'Entrepreneur' about how business-finance professionals can make the most out of today's advanced technology.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Didi Gurfinkel is the co-founder and CEO of DataRails, a powerful software product that helps CFOs and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) pros with their planning and reporting needs. Gurfinkle recently sat down with us to to talk about his company and how it works.

Didi, can you give us an overview of your company?

I founded the company after a few years at Cisco. I saw how Cisco relies on Excel, and we decided to try to take Excel and transform it from a personal application into an enterprise application. The idea was to pull the data from the spreadsheets in the organization and sync all this data into a centralized database in the cloud. So users will keep using Excel, but the organization will have the control and the governance on a centralized database. Excel for the financial professional is an essential tool. We let them leverage and keep using the power of Excel with the robustness of the database.

Related: How to Reset Your Career and Love What You Do

How has your product evolved?

In the first years of the company, we sold this solution to banks, insurance companies and financial institutions to solve their compliance issues, data integrity and control. After a few years, we saw the competitive edge or the value that it provides to FP&A and financial people for financial consolidation, financial automation, analytics and the meld between the flexibility of Excel and the robustness of databases. So we decided to move from the horizontal approach of a platform to the FP&A vertical.

When you look at finance pros today, many are attached to spreadsheets. How does DataRails address their pain points?

When you look at the financial people and Excel and spreadsheets, it's a love-hate story. They have a lot of challenges with Excel — the time that it takes, the amount of errors and mistakes, the lack of analytics. Excel is flat; they don't have the depth and the multidimensional database. So we actually combined the two. We kept the flexibility of Excel and the familiarity of Excel, so they used the same tool with all the goods and the best of what Excel can bring, and we connected the database behind it. So they have all the robustness, the ability to drill down with all the multidimensional and the layers of the database, to get full version control, to get powerful analytics, advanced analysis. All this capability in a database is almost a commodity, but in Excel, it can take days.

Related: How This Outsider Is Making a Splash Inside the Tequila Industry

What are some ways that business finance professionals can make the most out of today's advanced technology?

Sometimes people try to solve everything, 100% of their processes. It's almost impossible, and even if you succeed and succeed to do that, in a quarter or two, you will have another spreadsheet and another spreadsheet for more processing. So sometimes it's better to solve 80% of the problem rather than nothing. The most important part of digital transformation is the insights — the ability to organize the data, on the right tool, on the right platform. You can still run a few manual processes, a few, a day or two month, it's not the end of the world. Focus on the insights.



This Entrepreneur Believes the 9-to-5 Work Week Is Dead. So She Created a Platform That Matches Talent With Project-Based Work.

The founder of NuuWork shares how her company will help people navigate the future of project-based employment.

How This Company Is Helping Ecommerce Brands Scale and Grow

The co-founder of 8fig shares how his platform is helping online sellers plan and execute their growth around their supply-chain needs.

Eitan Bernath on Becoming a Teenage Food Entrepreneur and Social Media Star

In-depth interview with cookbook author, food personality, and content creator Eitan Bernath about starting an entertainment career as a child, teaming up with Drew Barrymore, and building an inspirational business empire before his 20th birthday.

Ask Marc: Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph on Facing Challenges, Bringing on Co-Founders and Growth

In this episode of our new series 'Ask Marc,' the serial entrepreneur and mentor offers advice on how to get started.

3 Science-Backed Ways to Break Bad Habits

Become powerfully productive with these three patterns.

Meet the Co-Founders Making Conscious Shopping Easier

Goodbuy's Cara Oppenheimer and Cary Telander Fortin share how their browser extension helps consumers buy products with both their wallets and values front of mind.

Nina Manchev of Forte Tapas on Engaging Customers with Social Video

Interview with Forte Tapas owner and entrepreneur Nina Manchev about connecting with social media, learning to be confident on video, and appearing on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

This CEO Believes We Need More Women In Crypto

Jaime Leverton, head of NASDAQ-listed Hut 8 Mining Corp., talks the future of digital currency with 'Entrepreneur.'

How to Create Your Path to Profit

Financial expert and author Michelle Jacobik is on a mission to help people be profitable, so she created the EnVision + Thrive Academy. She shares her journey to success, business tips and what you'll learn in her new book.

Toast CEO Chris Comparato on Why Restaurants Need a Tech Partner That Cares

Interview with Toast CEO Chris Comparato about leading with the customer in mind, having a digital-first mentality, and how technology like Toast is helping restaurants thrive.

The Science of Visualization: Maximizing Your Brain's Potential

In this video, we discuss why visualization is so effective and offer four tips to harness it.

How One Company Is Creating a New Financial System to Help Today's Workforce

The founder and CEO of DailyPay shares how his company is creating a new financial system to help today's employees get paid faster.

Ask Marc: Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph on Staying Motivated, Morning Routines and Setting Priorities

In this new installment of our 'Ask Marc!' video series, Marc Randolph offers inspiration and insights to new entrepreneurs.

How Tech Entrepreneur Angela Homsi Leverages Sustainable Innovation to Bridge Global Boundaries

Born between two worlds, the Ignite Power founder is helping ensure universal access to essential services.

Stratis Morfogen on Using Disruptive Technology to Improve Hospitality

Interview with Brooklyn Dumpling Shop Co-Founder Stratis Morfogen about using new technology at the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop and his other creative dining concepts, and how to be disruptive to improve hospitality.

Discover Entrepreneur Series

Whether you need advice on how to get your business off the ground or you’re just looking for inspiration, our video series have something for everyone. Browse our library below to find a series that speaks to you and your interests.

  • An original series streaming weekly where you can Click-to-Invest while you watch. THEIR JOURNEY. Your decision.
  • Your favorite pitch show is back with new entrepreneurs pitching Entrepreneur's investors.
  • Host Nicole Walters interviews small business founders to discuss their unique challenges and experiences running and growing a business. 
  • How many times have you been told “that will never work”? Probably not as often as Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph. The veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur provides a healthy dose of humor, and actionable advice that will benefit founders - and would-be founders - at every stage of their business journey.
  • Jessica Abo covers the causes people care about, the powerful work they do and how they got to where they are in the first place.
  • Bestselling author, Ben Angel, takes his audience on a journey into the entrepreneurial mind to uncover why we do what we do through his powerful short films and educational videos so you can unleash your ideas and potential.