Welcome to Snowflake’s Startup Spotlight, where we learn about startups building amazing things on Snowflake. In this edition, we’ll hear from Bobby Pinero, Co-Founder of Equals, about how his preference for doing analysis in spreadsheets fueled his drive to create a modern spreadsheet that can handle today’s data analysis needs.
Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to build Equals.
I’m Bobby Pinero, CEO and Co-Founder of Equals. I started Equals just over two years ago with my Co-Founder, Ben McRedmond. We were both part of the early team at Intercom and helped scale it from less than $1M annual recurring revenue (ARR) to almost $200M ARR. I’ve been an analyst for over a decade, during which I spent eight years building Finance, Analytics, Biz Ops, and several other functions at Intercom.
Over the past decade, I’ve been pitched every new data tool—from BI tools to notebooks to verticalized analytics tools. My problem is that they all wanted to take me out of the spreadsheet! The spreadsheet is where I, and many others, do almost all analysis. In fact, every meaningful business decision I’ve ever made came out of a spreadsheet. This is the case for most others doing business analysis as well. However, Excel was built over 40 years ago and Google Sheets over 15 years ago. The world of data analysis has fundamentally changed since then, and we believe that those who prefer to do analysis in a spreadsheet deserve a modern option.
Equals is our passion project. We’re aiming to fix the pain felt by people doing the job I did for 10 years. We started by building native connections from Equals to all of the data sources that modern technology companies use, including Snowflake. Today, you can run and automate queries natively within your Equals spreadsheet. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What makes Equals different?
Instead of making people leave a spreadsheet and learn a new tool for reporting and analysis, we’ve decided to take a tool they are already familiar with and enhance it with connections to live data. We have built connections to over 30 important apps (and counting), including SQL databases and data warehouses. We are building a better spreadsheet for every function of the business. Finance teams can connect apps like NetSuite, QuickBooks, Xero, Stripe and Plaid. Marketing teams can pull in data from Google Analytics and ad platforms like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. Product teams using Equals can bring user analytics data straight into a spreadsheet from tools like Amplitude and Mixpanel. Sales teams can connect CRMs like Salesforce, Hubspot and Pipedrive to analyze pipeline data. We also integrate with project management tools like Asana, ClickUp and Jira, pushing project and goal data into an Equals spreadsheet.
But we’re not just connecting spreadsheets to live data—we feel like it’s time to upgrade them. One of the challenges for analysts is the technical gap of knowing SQL. We built a visual SQL Builder so if you don’t know how to write SQL, you can still query whatever you need. We’ve also added an AI Assistant that helps you write, edit and understand your SQL queries, formulas and charts.
Analysts and operators are also constantly tasked with creating reports and dashboards that take hours to update and build. Equals lets you build live dashboards with tables and charts that auto-update with fresh data—automating the manual work of report updates and offering a more flexible alternative to BI tools
How has Snowflake enabled you to push the envelope in your line of business?
Because our primary differentiator is connecting live data to a spreadsheet, we needed to solve two problems. First, we needed to either build integrations with many different business apps or use a tool that would allow our customers to pull data into their spreadsheets. We’ve done both. We have built several native data connectors as well as partnering with a tool called Fivetran.
Second, once customers could pull their data using one of our connectors, we needed a way for them to query it. We wanted to build a powerful SQL interface over all these different data connections in the spreadsheet. However, we didn’t want to manage a warehouse solution that needed to scale both in number of customers and in size of data. Our customers just want to build models on top of their data using our powerful spreadsheet. They don’t care about how that data is stored as long as it is secure, accessible and performant.
We started with a connected app, where the application runs on our customer’s Snowflake instance, but as we’ve scaled we recently launched a fully managed service to give our users the best experience. All of our customers have separate schemas, users and roles in our single Snowflake account. Our customers never see Snowflake; they only see the ability to query their diverse data sets inside a spreadsheet.
Tell us about how Snowflake frees up your team’s engineering resources.
We are building a modern spreadsheet that’s deeply connected to customer data, which is difficult enough already! We don’t want to spend time building out data warehouses and managing load; we want to continue innovating on what a modern spreadsheet means to us—live data connections, amazing query builders, automated reports, AI assistance and more. Leveraging Snowflake has helped us focus on building more use cases for our customers and making Equals faster and better.
What’s on the horizon for you?
With Equals, our goal is to build the next generation of spreadsheets. First, there was Excel; then Google Sheets; and now Equals. We are aiming to become the new standard for analysts and business operators. While most other data tools are trying to take the spreadsheet away from us or give us some other way of doing analysis, we believe that the spreadsheet is here to stay. As such, we’re building one that is fit for this generation’s work.
As an analyst myself, I’ve always been envious of my teammates in other functions who get all sorts of modern tools. Designers get Figma; engineers get GitHub and more; PMs and marketers get Coda, Notion and Asana; while us analysts are stuck in Excel. The future we envision is one where analysts continue to work in spreadsheets, but one that delights and removes much of the mundane and monotonous work that analysts do today. Ultimately, we’re helping them focus on what they do best: generating insights!