“Growing a business is like completing a jigsaw puzzle and if you miss out one piece, you’ll come up short,” says Alok Goel, the co-founder and CEO of Drivetrain. Goel and his team claim that Drivetrain, which is today announcing a $15 million funding round, will help businesses avoid falling into that trap – and therefore to complete the picture and fulfill their potential.
Drivetrain is a cloud-based software-as-a-service application designed to make it easier for businesses to plan their execution strategies and to monitor their performance against their targets. It pulls in data from the business’s existing tools –it can integrate 200 different tools ranging from Excel spreadsheets to applications such as Salesforce – in order to provide a single view of where the company stands now, where it’s heading and what’s required along the way.
“Think of us like Google Maps for business,” adds Goel. “When you’re in an unfamiliar location, Google Maps tells you how to get to your destination, monitors your journey and helps you get back on track if you go wrong; Drivetrain does the same for your business.”
The company sees its target client base as encompassing any business that has found its market position and proved it has a product or service that customers want to buy; the talent for such businesses is then to grow quickly, maximising customer reach and identifying new opportunities while managing cashflow and remaining on course to hit key targets.
Drivetrain’s role in that, Goel argues, is to provide a simple set of data on which the company can base its decisions. It gives management teams a clear picture of where they are today, plus the ability to model the impacts of any number of decisions aimed at moving the business towards its targets. One decisions are made, Drivetrain monitors the impacts on an ongoing basis in order to identify any divergence between actual results and what was hoped for. Where there is a gap, it can help managers catch up.
Part of the appeal, explains Drivetrain CTO and co-founder Tarkeshwar Thakur, is the personalisation it offers. “Every business is a little different,” he argues. “We’ve designed Drivetrain to be flexible from the ground up. Behind the scenes, the system creates a program for the business that captures all nuances.”
The bottom line for Goel and Thakur is that companies need to get away from making instinctive decisions based on gut feelings; rather, every choice the company makes should be informed by the data it has at its disposal.
Many companies agree, but in practice find it difficult to use their data – held in multiple systems throughout the business – to drive more scientific decision-making processes. “The key is that no data in the company should be left untouched,” adds Goel.
Independent research points in a similar direction. Gartner, for example, has published statistics warning that just 13% of organisations are able to identify performance issues before they begin to have an impact on financial metrics. That reflects an inability to leverage data at an early stage.
Drivetrain’s proposition is based on Goel’s experience working as a partner at Elevation Capital, where he spent time as a venture capitalist tracking more than 1,000 potential investments. Over time, he became increasingly interested in the common denominators of companies that execute on their plans in a predictable and successful way – the stand-out commonality was their ability to plan well and to base decisions on data.
That inspired the launch of Drivetrain in April 2021 when Goel, Thakur and a small team began developing a prototype of today’s platform. Since then, the business has expanded to 35 members of staff and began selling its software commercially three months ago.
Now that that process of commercialisation looks set to accelerate, with Elevation Capital, Jungle Ventures and Venture Highway – plus a group of 25 angel investors, advisers and founders – injecting $15 million into the company.
“I see Drivetrain becoming a part of the core financial tech stack for growth-stage companies,” explains Arpit Beri, Principal at Jungle Ventures. “You need a metrics layer where you can simulate and implement your growth strategies, answer strategic questions like what you can do to increase revenue or reduce costs, and guide you towards more predictable outcomes.”
The cash raised is earmarked for two types of deployment, says Goel. “This is one of those products where development is never going to stop, so we need more resources to help us deepen the product,” he says. “Plus we need to invest in go-to-market – we’ve head our heads down building the project and now we need more help with sales, marketing and content.”