Case study

Synapse: connecting business spreadsheets in the cloud

A business supported by Innovate UK is set for multi-million pound growth after its cloud-sharing solution for multiple spreadsheets took off.

Brian Donnelly of Synapse

Brian Donnelly, chief executive of Synapse

Synapse has developed a cloud-based solution that allows multiple individuals working on a spreadsheet to share one synchronised up-to-the-minute version of their joint efforts.

Synapse’s Cloud CFO was developed with the help of a Smart award from Innovate UK and now counts a major bank and a major Swedish retailer among its customers.

The system connects a spreadsheet to a secure cloud server that understands finance, audit and group financial accounts production.

It means that, for the first time, a number of people working on the same set of financial data can share a single version of the spreadsheet. There is no need for copying between spreadsheets and the risk of data inaccuracies is significantly reduced.

Cloud CFO can be customised to a business’s monitoring and reporting needs and is fully auditable.

Smart made people sit up and take notice

The company was founded by digital entrepreneur Brian Donnelly, who has returned to the UK after successfully building companies in California’s Silicon Valley.

Brian said:

The funding from Smart was incredibly helpful but, that aside, what it really did was make people sit up and take notice.

If the government was prepared to award a grant then people thought there must be something really valuable here. It made it a lot easier for us to hire people and to find customers.

The business, based at Birmingham Science Park, won a Smart award in 2013. Since then, it has grown from six to 31 employees.

Turnover this year could rise to up to £2 million. Over the next three years, it is targeting annual turnover of £7 million to £10 million and employment of up to 100 staff.

Funding gives business time to develop

Synapse has won a second Smart award that will allow it to develop a prototype system that builds on Cloud CFO. It will offer advanced forensic accounting capabilities, allowing chief financial officers to query data across multiple companies to detect fraud or find candidates for acquisition.

Brian added:

Most British start-up companies end up marooned at the bottom of a gravity hole and they can’t climb up quickly enough. They never have the time or the staff to develop a scalable product.

That’s the big thing we are getting from the next Smart grant. It’s giving us the time and people to develop our prototype.

Published 26 October 2015