Whether you love working with them or not, spreadsheets are a part of doing
business. Spreadsheets are the most commonly used type of software in the world
with literally billions of users. Fortunately, the days of boring old
spreadsheets are over thanks to Yannick Rault and his startup Sheetgo. With
Sheetgo, users can ask the question, “What else can I do with my spreadsheet?”
They can create workflows and automate processes that lead to greater efficiency
while running a business.
Yannick joined the latest edition of the Silicon Valley Momentum Podcast with
Roland Siebelink. The founder and CEO of Sheetgo discussed all of the ways that
Sheetgo can impact the billions of spreadsheet users and so much more:
- How Google didn’t even know the idea behind Sheetgo was possible before they
saw it themselves.
- How Sheetgo has been able to survive and thrive without as much financing as
- Why finding partners early on played a crucial role in Sheetgo finding its way
in a crowded space.
- The two types of investors that are best able to help startups realize their dreams.
- How starting out as an add-on ended up being the best option for Sheetgo.
Roland Siebelink: Hello and welcome to the Silicon Valley Momentum Podcast.
My name is Roland Siebelink and I'm a scaleup ally for tech founders. I am very
excited today because we have with us Yannick Rault of Sheetgo.
Hello, Yannick. How are you today?
Yannick Rault: Hi, Roland. I'm great. How about yourself?
Roland Siebelink: Very good. I'm sorry that I cut off the Dutch part of your
name, even though I am of Dutch origin. But I think it'll be easier for our
audience to just remember your surname or R-A-U-L-T. Is that right?
Yannick Rault: That's right. I don't think people will know in the States
Rafael van der Vaart, the football player. In Europe maybe.
Roland Siebelink: Exactly, exactly. Well, we do have an audience all around
the world, both in the US and in Europe. Yannick Rault van der Vaart, the CEO
and founder of Sheetgo. Yannick, let's go into the product in your company. What
does Sheetgo do and who does it impact?
Yannick Rault: I think the most important thing to think about is who does
it impact. It impacts those spreadsheet users in the world. Spreadsheets
continue to be the most commonly used software. The main impact here is what
else can I do with my spreadsheet? We use it for data analysis. We use it to put
together information. But it usually lives siloed into a single use and the data
can be leveraged for other things that we do ourselves or that other people are
We realize that and realize the acuity to build out entire processes with the
data and with the intelligence that one puts into a spreadsheet. We built
Sheetgo so that anyone without any coding skills could actually create processes
or workflows with the spreadsheet that they're using day-to-day in their
Roland Siebelink: That's awesome. By turning it from this individual
software, individual siloed software, to the basis of data in a company, I
assume that you're looking to get to efficiencies, bigger growth impacts, just
lots of business outcomes, right?
Yannick Rault: Right. So saving time. Even people that automate processes
with softwares like Salesforce, it costs a lot of money to do that. It costs a
lot of implementation. You need IT resources, data scientists if you're using
BI. You can just not do any of that and just use Sheetgo. It's not going to
solve everything. But it's going to get you 80% of the way there and with 20% of
the resources and time.
Roland Siebelink: That's awesome. Really implementing the Pareto equation
there. The amount of people in your target group must be enormous. Do you have a
particular focus within just this group of end users who use spreadsheets?
Yannick Rault: Yeah. We divided into two types of users. We have those users
that actually understand spreadsheets can be leveraged and want to actually
create these workflows. And all of a sudden they find Sheetgo and they can start
using it. For startups, it's great to be able to automate almost any process
from sales to inventory to products to HR marketing, project management,
finance. And we even have templates around it. It's for those that want to
create the reports and want to create this workflow.
But we also find that there is another type of user. And those are the users
that are using a spreadsheet and they may not even realize that Sheetgo was
running in the background. They're just looking at graphs. They're looking at
reports and information that for some magical reason is always automatically
updated, and that's thanks to Sheetgo. Or the inputting information. Somebody
told them, "Hey, put this in information. I'm a sales agent. I need to put this
information in here." Only I can see that magically it appears at the manager's
spreadsheet because it's being brought automatically by Sheetgo.
Those end users that don't necessarily are part of creating a process are
actually in that beautiful process just using their Google sheets or their Excel
spreadsheet. Those are the two types of users. How big is it? Well, if you put
both of them together, you could probably reach a billion. But slowly we're
working our way up to that. The amount of people using online spreadsheets is
growing exponentially, especially since COVID. Some people say that the number
of people using online spreadsheets is now 300 million, there's 400 million,
there's 200 million. I don't know. It's big enough for us anyways.
Roland Siebelink: Huge numbers anyway, right? Before we go more into your
go-to market and your competition, let's talk a little bit more about you,
Yannick. What's your background and how did you become the CEO and founder of a
company like Sheetgo?
Yannick Rault: Okay. I was living in the US originally. In Europe, as we
previously spoke, I'm a bit of a Euro trash. I was living in the US. I was an
athlete back then. And I went to university; I really didn't know what to do. I
decided to do industrial engineering, finance, marketing, and also computer
information systems. I was working, bartending on the weekends to make ends
But when I was 19, I was able to get a job, building an intranet for FedEx. This
is a while ago. This is 25 years ago. I thought that would be really cool, and
that's what I was doing. And that's how I got involved in Internet business, in
software, and eventually I worked for large corporations and into Silicon
Valley, doing software and tech roadmaps. And that's what I did in my twenties
until I went into a different type of world in my thirties.
I wanted to do something real, not just software. And I ended up building homes,
thousands of homes over in Latin America for lower middle income folks.. And,
that was an incredible experience.
Roland Siebelink: A scalable home-building product for affordable homes, it
Yannick Rault: Exactly. Scalable and ecological and all these great things.
But you hit it right there, Roland. The issue was that it was never scalable
enough and it was a bit frustrating because as big as we were able to do it with
private equity involved, you still have a lot of government involvement. You
still have to deal with construction materials, logistics, and we actually ended
up realizing that to be able to do that properly, we had to manage everything
online. And we actually built an entire ERP out of spreadsheets. That's when
this idea came out. If we were able to actually create an entire management
system with dashboards online ourselves, why shouldn't other people be able to
And, then, I decided that for my forties, I wanted to go back into software. And
even though we're not doing ‘real’ things, What's beautiful about software is
just how scalable you can make it.
Roland Siebelink: That's why Marc Andreessen says that software is eating
the world, right? Because it's so much more scalable than other industries.
I did want to jump back a little bit on where you said the whole genesis of
Sheetgo was that you built an ERP system out of spreadsheets. Talk to me a
little bit more about that. You did have a bit of a software engineering
background, as I understand it. How did spreadsheets get so much momentum that
it became your whole ERP?
Yannick Rault: It started with the versioning control of budgets. When
you're doing a lot of projects in construction, you need to do a lot of
budgeting. And then you end up with version two, three, five. Of course, we went
into Google docs back when it was really young as well. But once we started
getting all the planning done properly, then I wanted to be able to feed the
actual information of what was going on into that planning.
There wasn't any software where you could easily have that online. So, we said,
"Okay, let's leverage what we already have online connected with the actuals."
Then once we had the actuals, we said, "Okay, I really want to know what's going
on in construction." Is there some software out there where people can use a
phone or the iPad (that had just come out) and put a check mark on things. And
we couldn't find anything. So I said, "Well, let's do it ourselves." Same thing
with sales. On the ground, we had 10 different sites and we needed people to put
sales in. And so, if we were to implement CRM, then how would that integrate
with the rest of the system? And then it had to be online. Let's just do that
also. That's how it all started building into this entire management system. I
think the first version was 2009.
Roland Siebelink: That's awesome. I do believe in the best startups being
based on what they call the founder scratching their own itch in a way.
Something that's built in practice and only later do you realize, "Oh, we might
actually have company potential with this one." Does that feel like that's what
Yannick Rault: That's exactly what happened. We actually wanted to do it
back then, or in 2010. We spoke to Google. They invited us over to Mountain View
to show them what we had done. They said, "We have never seen anyone do this. We
didn't know this was possible." This is 2010. so back then, I really only
dreamed of doing something like Sheetgo. But back then
One: we didn't have the example, an Elon Musk type of CEO that could run two
companies. Not by any means do I consider myself Elon Musk, but there wasn't any
example like that.
Two: not that many people using documents online. And I remember giving a speech
somewhere about cloud computing in Europe. And people looked at me really weird
and they were like, "This is not the future." And I was like, "I see this as the
future. I don't know how you do not see it."
Third: how do you do something like this without the necessity of consulting
services? And that took a lot of thinking. We only started Sheetgo six years
later. We wanted to start it in 2014. I just couldn't get off my
responsibilities fast enough. But it took a long time to really think about how
do you make that scalable?
Maybe that's one of those things that you have to really think through. The
other part of services - making a product that's easy enough that you don't need
services takes a lot of time and a lot of iteration. Even though we started
probably more - not probably, for sure - more bootstrapped than our market
counterparts - also because we didn't have as much financing - it really pushed
this to really iterate and understand thousands of users. How are they using
spreadsheets for what? Because it is such a horizontal product. It really forced
us to go to market early and iterate and understand.
Roland Siebelink: How do you deal with such a crowded space with so many
offerings? So many companies with momentum, how do you carve out your own space
in there and become successful?
Yannick Rault: Yeah. We've really gone always with the idea that we need to
take advantage of the stack that most people use. We, early on, were partners
with Google. We shared roadmaps to understand them. Make sure that we’re really
complementing each other. We don't pretend to create a Google Sheet. I think it
would take a lot of resources to do that. There's some players trying to do
At the same time, now this year we've launched with Microsoft. We've also worked
very close with their engineers to understand what they're doing. What they're
doing now with Microsoft Excel, especially this year, especially now, they're
pushing new features out there, leveraging the cloud. And again, I don't think
we can pretend to ever be able to do that.
But what we do pretend to do is take advantage of knowing those two great stacks
and making more of it. Because those stacks are already in the companies. The
Legacy Excel is there. I think the most important thing is being close to our
partners, being very honest, transparent, and finding ways to find synergies.
Roland Siebelink: Just for the listeners who are not aware yet, where is
Sheetgo based now? How did you decide to start the company there? And what's
generally been your experience with location-based decisions and how this helps
or hinders your startup?
Yannick Rault: I still don't know if it hinders it. I think only time will
tell. We're based out of Spain, our headquarters. But we also have teams in
Brazil. Our engineering is over there and more than half of our customers are in
the US. We have clients in another 70 countries.
But I think - this is pre-COVID. We have four offices in different parts and
then some people working from home. Now, because of COVID, everybody's working
from home. We do have one office that's open. A few people go to it. For us, we
are already used to it, so there wasn't that much of a setback with this. Maybe
that's been something good.
And then the other thing is when you need resources, you become also smart on
how to use your resources when you have limited ones. Our engineering team,
actually, had the opportunity to move to Europe, and they decided to stay in
Brazil. We have great resources there. We've created a great team, great
ambience, a great culture. From music jamming to sports online, to gaming,
depending on what people like to do.
The idea of location, I think now is a huge factor. You've heard DropBox, who is
also a partner of ours, has also gone remote first. Location, I'm not sure how
it's gonna play into things in the future.
Roland Siebelink: Right, right, right. I hear you. And what about attracting
investment? Do you feel it's still necessary to have a base in Silicon Valley in
order to attract the top investors?
Yannick Rault: I think you have to have a - I'm not sure if it's the right
way to say it - but this American mindset of you can become a unicorn and that
you're gonna eat the world. That's the mindset I think we all need to have. Even
if you're in Spain, Luxembourg, Brazil, wherever you are. I think that's what
VCs are looking for.
Of course, in our case, more than half of customers are in the US, that is more
attractive. Also, I'm part American. If it wasn't for COVID, we would be living
in the US, my family and I, because of business. But because of COVID, I've been
stopped. But we were moving there because at the end of the day, there is some
serendipity by being with amazing people thinking big like there are in the US.
Having said all that, the response to your question, I do see that VCs in the
States are starting to become much more open-minded about international talent.
Roland Siebelink: Just generally, what do you feel about the decision-making
about when to raise money? Should you go for as much as you can or should you be
very cautious about it? What's been your experience with raising money and
making the calls as to when to go for it?
Yannick Rault: I've done it all and I'm not sure if I'm ever right. The
previous company, we started with a million and then raised 20 million within a
year, which was crazy back 10 years ago. In this company, we've raised in total,
probably about a million over the last four years.
I am known to be a bit of an extreme person, so probably good balance is good.
And depends on what's available to you. Right now, there's a lot of money in the
market for crazy ideas, anyone that wants to eat the world up. If you can raise
it, do it. As long as you can keep the mindset on your dream intact. I think
that's really important and it's very difficult.
And everybody says this, it's almost too common to say this, but really, try to
find money that's not going to drag you in any way, shape or form. Either
nobody's going to ask any questions or bother you at all, or money that's really
going to help you because there's some really smart investors out there. You can
find those and they can really push you. You're going to have tough moments. And
if you have an investor that's a pain in the ass, in those tough moments,
they're even more a pain in the ass.
Instead, have supporters. You have those hard moments and you have that
investor: "Come on. I believe the dream. Let's do it. What else can you think
of? Let's go for it. Let me present it to someone." I think if you can have that
kind of investor, that's incredible.
Roland Siebelink: Talk to me a little bit, Yannick, about your go-to market.
How has Sheetgo started to attract users? What are some tricks or tactics you
figured out that work for you and how are you proceeding to get to these billion
Yannick Rault: I'm not sure there's any right or wrong here. We decided to
start as an add-on of a part that was up and coming in that time was Google,
Google sheets, now called Workspaces. And that was really useful because we
really were able to bring in and start working with that early adopter. And
really start to work with them and see what they were trying to do.
And I think that helped a lot. Then when we moved to our own standalone web
application a couple of years back in 2018, we realized just how hard it is to
have a standalone product that's not just an add on for a product. We went
through that. I think it was good to start as an add on because we could really
iterate and understand the user.
Having said that, it really was tough to have them change the mindset to have a
product by itself. In fact, it's changed so much that, if you can imagine,
before we were an add on for a spreadsheet. And now with Dropbox, with Google,
and it's coming out of Microsoft now, you opened Sheetgo by itself as an
application and we embed the spreadsheet itself. So, who's the add on now? It's
beautiful that we can leverage the stack that Excel and Google have done and
their storage systems of them and Dropbox so that you can start doing beautiful,
wonderful workflows from our product.
Roland Siebelink: Can you talk a little bit, Yannick, about how big
Sheetgo's team is right now? And especially, the question I get from a lot of
founders, how have you divided up the number of people between, let's say the
product engineering side and the marketing/sales side?
Yannick Rault: We're very product driven. Maybe because I'm a bit of a geek
on that side, but we're very, very product driven. Our marketing and sales team
is also very customer driven. I know that everybody says that. But we really
think about happiness with our customers. We don't have a big marketing
commercial team, which is tough. We focus our attention to onboarding, to
understanding the product, and to the backend.
It's very data intensive, very technology intensive to be able to do what we do.
I'd say we've gone around and been very product and more commercial, and then a
bit more commercial.
Roland Siebelink: Yannick, what's next? What are some of the key targets
that you've set for yourself and for Sheetgo? And if some of our listeners are
interested, how can they help you with them?
Yannick Rault: We're going to go a little bit beyond spreadsheets with
things that are complementary with spreadsheets that we have found over the
years, and that we've worked a little bit in some alpha programs that these
companies with to make sure that we we're going to be doing it right. We're
working on it right now and we'll be releasing in 2021 some of those really cool
Roland Siebelink: Excellent teaser to see what's to come. Everybody, please
go to sheetgo.com, I believe it is right.
Yannick Rault: Yeah. There's a free version. Use it and abuse it? Please
connect me up on LinkedIn. There's not that many Yannick’s at Sheetgo. If you
have questions, if you have feedback, crash it if you can, our customer support
team is always super happy. There's these pop ups that you'll see that my team
wants to talk to you. They really do. Come visit Sheetgo.com.
Roland Siebelink: That's awesome. And if any investors are interested to get
an intro to Yannick, I'm also happy to provide as well, of course. Anything that
you want to leave our audience with, Yannick? What's the key learning that you
have made in your several entrepreneurial ventures that some of our founders
listening to this podcast might learn something from?
Yannick Rault: The more you know, the less you know.
Roland Siebelink: Very humble. I love it. There must be some Dutch blood in
you after all, right?
Yannick Rault: Yeah, I do sound a bit American, right? There is some Dutch
blood, that's for sure. In this startup, I've received so much help and so many
people at Microsoft, at Google, at Dropbox, so many other startup CEOs, so many
accelerated programs, anything we can get into, we've really rallied for a lot
of help. And I'm really, really thankful for that because - I don't know, we
really need to know a lot of stuff and we still do.
Roland Siebelink: Okay. It sounds like one point of advice to our founders
is definitely seek help where you can and don't think you know it all, would
that be correct?
Yannick Rault: I think so. Although there's a lot more smarter startup
founders out there that might not need all that. But for sure, we do. Especially
the younger ones have so much ideas, so we hire young.
Roland Siebelink: Hire young people. Okay. And if anyone is interested in
working with Sheetgo, what kind of jobs do you typically hire for? And in which
locations are you looking?
Yannick Rault: We look mostly - now everything's remote, so we have people
in the US, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, all over Brazil. We're starting to
see more folks living in their dream home or dream place, even here in Spain.
They want it to live on the beach or live in a small town and leverage that
because we can leverage that as well. If you want to live your dream and with a
great team that's really transparent and open, come join us.
Commercial side, we're always looking for great people that can onboard
customers. If you're over in Brazil, we do prefer our technology team to be in
Brazil if you're tech. And then content people, if you love processes,
workflows, spreadsheets, and you want to be part of the content that we have so
much need to create, come join us. Make sure you speak good English and write
good English, and join the dream.
Roland Siebelink: Excellent. Thank you so much, Yannick Rault for joining us
at the Silicon Valley Momentum Podcast, CEO and founder of Sheetgo. This was an
amazing interview and we will be keeping a great eye on Sheetgo and your next
Yannick Rault: Thank you, Roland. Appreciate it.
Roland Siebelink: Absolutely. And thank you everyone for listening this
week. Next week, we will have another founder from another place in the world.
That will be equally absorbent episode. Thank you so much.
Roland Siebelink talks all things tech startup and bring you interviews with tech cofounders
across the world.