Search “I hate financial projections” in Google and you get more than 72 million results. It’s because the most common spreadsheet templates are complex and confusing with dozens of tabs and thousands of variable inputs. Many entrepreneurs take one look at this kind of Excel madness and give up. The good news is that ProjectionHub, a startup itself out of Anderson, Ind., has found a way to make financial projections easier for startups and existing companies!
Adam Hoeksema was working on his personal taxes using TurboTax back in 2012, when it dawned on him that there really wasn’t a TurboTax-type solution for creating financial projections. There are a number of financial projections software programs out there, including some that are web-based, but none that are virtual “financial projections for dummies” solutions that walk the user through the process question-by-question and line-by-line.
“The main problem with the spreadsheet templates is that they are built to be flexible enough for any business,” Adam said. “All that flexibility seems like it would be a good thing, but it makes the templates so complex that they don’t end up working well for anyone.”
As the loan program manager of the Flagship Enterprise Center Microloan Program, Adam knew there was a built-in market for an easy to use, step-by-step financial projections solution because he was constantly asking clients to create financial projections. He had used a dozen or more Excel spreadsheet templates, but they all had steep learning curves and were too intimidating, too confusing and too long.
With the help of his developer brother Brandon Hoeksema — who was a senior in high school at the time — they designed and built the first version of ProjectionHub (which is available now) and ended up getting more than 11,000 one-time users.
They recently won $7,000 from the Taylor University Business Plan Competition, and $5,000 from Start Garden in Grand rapids, Mich. Now that they have some traction with 110 paying customers under a new monthly model and investment dollars, they have hired Indy-based design and development firm Foxio to help build v2 of ProjectionHub, which will launch in the second quarter this year.
What does ProjectionHub do?
ProjectionHub is a web application that helps entrepreneurs create financial projections for potential lenders and investors. Like a TurboTax for financial projections.
What are the three most important features of ProjectionHub?
- ProjectionHub is web-based, which allows it to be a simpler alternative to complex Excel spreadsheet templates.
- ProjectionHub allows you to download the final set of projections as an Excel file. This gives you the simplicity of a web-based tool, but the flexibility to customize your projections with Excel. (You’re not stuck in the app if you need to download it and transfer it for whatever reason!)
- The web allows us to integrate with other web-based tools. We will be integrating with Quickbooks Online this year to allow users to compare their projections to their actual financial results.
Who are some of your well-known customers?
We work with LocalStake and have made ProjectionHub available to their clients who are looking to raise capital on the LocalStake platform. Also, I (Adam) continue to work at the Flagship Enterprise Center, the state’s largest microlender. We use ProjectionHub for many of our microloan applicants who need to create financial projections for their loan applications.
Did you have a significant pivot as a startup?
We have fought back and forth between trying to sell ProjectionHub to individual entrepreneurs and “power users” like banks, investor groups, crowdfunding platforms, and CPA firms who could allow many of their clients to use the product.
Right now we are now focused on building the best product we can build for individual entrepreneurs to create startup financial projections, and then in the future we will think about selling to enterprise clients.
How is ProjectionHub funded?
We have bootstrapped the business to date investing about $20,000 into the company. We did win the Taylor University Business Plan Competition in 2014 and won a $7,000 grant. We also recently won a $5,000 investment from Start Garden in Grand Rapids, Mich. On February 26, we will be presenting at Start Garden again for a chance to win a $20,000 investment.
What’s your growth trajectory?
We have seen steady growth over the last couple years. Recently, we have seen a nice jump in growth primarily due to increased traffic on our blog.
What makes ProjectionHub different?
We believe it is the team. Brandon and I (Adam) have complementary skills. I have a degree in Accounting, and I work with hundreds of small businesses and startups looking to raise capital at the Flagship Enterprise Center. Brandon is a junior at Taylor University studying computer science and artificial intelligence. Brandon is a talented developer and as we collect more and more financial projection data from users, Brandon is able to analyze that data and create predictive technology that allows us to help small businesses better predict their financial futures.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned?
It took us a while to learn to focus on dominating a particular niche first and then expanding from there. We started by wanting to create a tool that anyone could use, but have learned the importance of monopolizing one niche at a time. The book Zero to One by Peter Thiel was helpful in teaching this lesson.