This article first appeared in Channel Buzz.
Toronto-based SaaS CPM vendor Vena used its annual user event to extend its support to Office 365, and establish their Vena Exchange, a vetted library for customers to share Excel best practices templates.
NEW ORLEANS – This week, at VenaNOLA, their first-ever user event here, Toronto-based Vena Solutions made two major announcements. They have always been laser-focused on desktop Excel, but now have extended their Microsoft support with a new Office 365 integration. They also announced Vena Exchange – a new library of vetted Excel best practices templates that Vena ultimately intends to both extend and automate.
Vena makes corporate performance management (CPM) software for budgeting, planning, reporting and revenue forecasting. While they began six years ago with a software solution, in 2014 they switched over completely to the cloud and now have an entirely SaaS-based offering.
Their focus is on the higher end of the market, the enterprise and the mid-market.
“About a third of our customers are enterprise, which we define as having a billion dollars up in revenue,” said Don Mal, Vena’s CEO and co-founder. “The rest are mid-market, which we define as companies with over $50 million in revenue. We are vertically-agnostic, but with a slight concentration in financial services.”
Vena competes with about a half dozen firms, who are smaller, focused companies like themselves.
“Adaptive Insights is our main competitor,” Mal said. “We don’t compete with the big software companies because we are designed to co-exist with them.”
Microsoft has been a major strategic partner since Vena’s inception.
“Our differentiator is the way we leverage native Excel, as well as PowerPoint, Word, and now Office 365,” Mal said.
In North America, Vena sells primarily direct, although outside it, they only sell through partners. About 20 per cent of their total business is channel.
“We do have channels in North America, although they are more referral or technology partners rather than sales, and we do have implementation partners as well,” Mal said. Like many successful Canadian companies, their Canadian customer base is a small fraction of their business – much less than 10 per cent, Mal said.
The new Office 365 integration reflects its growing importance in a market which has been dominated by traditional Excel.
“Excel was absolutely ubiquitous when we launched,” Mal said. “Office 365 has come on strong in the last year or two, but an issue has been that it has had limited functionality compared to desktop Excel. Now, it’s almost as close, so we thought it was time to make the integration.”
The other announcement, Vena Exchange, has nothing to do with Microsoft Exchange. It is a library of best industry best practice Excel templates, vetted by Vena and reviewed by their customers, which will make it much easier for other Vena customers to leverage best practices.
“Only Facebook has as many users as Excel,” Mal said. “With Vena Exchange, we are creating a platform where people can share these templates, and where we can offer them up in a library. The plan is to eventually automate it all, but for now it will be curated by us.”
Access to both the Office 365 integration and Vena Exchange are included within Vena’s regular customer subscription costs.
Mal also expressed great pleasure at the success of VenaNOLA, the company’s first-ever user conference at the Royal Sonesta in New Orleans, a large 19th century French Quarter winery converted into a resort hotel in the 1960s.
“It’s our first user conference, with almost 350 customers here,” he said. “We waited until we had a critical mass of customers, before launching the event, which will now be an annual occurrence. We are adding about 50 new customers a quarter right now.”