A candid chat with JC, MindBridge’s SVP of Client Growth Programs
David Clement (DC): JC, this is a big milestone; tell me about your exciting news with MindBridge.
JC: I’m celebrating! It is my six (6) year anniversary at MindBridge, years that I am very proud of, and on reflection, I think I’m as excited today as the day I joined.
DC: We go back to IBM days after your last startup was acquired. Why did you go back to a startup after your time with IBM?
JC: Being in the IBM Business Analytics family for 6 years after acquisition allowed me to grow as a professional in the FinTech/RegTech space. So, when Robin Grosset, MindBridge’s CTO, and I were working on Watson Analytics, it felt like a startup inside IBM – we went from an idea to an early product in under 4 months, and when we pitched the idea on stage in Sept ’14 we amassed a waiting list for the December launch of over 300k users – it was really an exciting stage. I guess I missed having the immediate impact of bringing innovators and early adopters through to early majority users on a journey. A couple of years after the launch, it felt like time to ‘do it again.’
The startup landscape was busy then, just like it is today. There were many startups in the Financial and Strategic Corporate Performance Management space; however, I was looking to support finance and accounting in a new way. When I met Eli Fathi, founding CEO and now Chairman, it was a turning point, a real ‘aha moment.’ I was reunited with Robin during my first introduction to Eli in the summer of 2016 – I then met founder Solon Angel and was hooked.
For years, we had primarily focused on Trial Balance and month-end figures, with little attention paid to the day-to-day activity. So when Robin introduced the idea of an AI system that could scrutinize every entry in a ledger and detect anomalies, it seemed like a no-brainer for me.
DC: What was it like as a VP of Growth those first few months at MindBridge?
JC: It feels like it does now – I wake up every morning (during the week, usually in a different city than Ottawa) and think about how users can engage with the technology. The first few months, we had just made the first iteration of MindBridge generally available, and there was so much interest that our small but mighty team had up to 25 demonstrations a week. We were educating more than selling back then, and today I think that’s much the same.
Then, as now, we knew that a key to our success would be multifaceted but focused on usability, explainability, and a concept called MAYA (most advanced yet acceptable). MindBridge was on a mission to change how auditors, controllers, and the finance departments used their typically underutilized data and better supported those roles and their growth in a critical area of stakeholder responsibility. We needed to educate and build trust with those early innovators, many of whom were CPAs and CFEs trained to approach things with a critical eye, as is the nature of their profession.
Seeing someone accept the Discover MindBridge challenge and become a customer was fantastic. And unlike simply ‘ringing the bell,’ we celebrated this achievement by raising a pennant with a badge for each new user, co-dedicated to the innovator/customer and a team member who made a difference in onboarding the user. This practice began when we were still a team of fewer than 20 people.
We traveled extensively to convert innovators to customers and educate CPAs, CFEs, and standard setters. During my first 2 quarters, Eli and I joked that every minute of our travels needed to be booked – our record was 18 meetings in 36 hours in Toronto – and we were able to include more concepts from our design partners through these adventures.
DC: Though SaaS products rarely refer to version numbers, you’ve been here for them all. What do you think are the biggest innovations/releases?
JC: That’s a good question. MindBridge technology is second to none.
Our General Ledger product has increased from seven (7) to thirty-two (32) control points, and the algorithms have also undergone significant enhancements. For instance, our Expert Score has expanded from tens of rules to over 1000. Also, we now have specific ensemble templates with 10-30 control points deployed for Payables, Receivables, Payroll, Vendor Invoicing, Expenses, and more on the horizon – all with new or tuned algorithms. This means MindBridge can deliver value across numerous financial ledgers and identify unique underlying patterns and behaviors early to prevent surprises or corporate panic later.
We’ve gone from 10M entries to over 500M entries processing at a single time, allowing us to essentially work with any size organization. We’ve surpassed 58B entries processed and continue to use digital exhaust to refine and update our weightings and learnings into new ensembles.
Seeing data in MindBridge’s visualizations is often an ‘aha’ moment for users. MindBridge has simplified the experience with Progressive Disclosure, allowing users to access the level of detail they need. Key visualizations that have had a tremendous impact include the Risk Segmentation and Prior Period Comparison tabs.
Our acceleration of new modules (Payroll and Vendor Invoice Analytics) and enhanced configurability drive customers’ success, as the MindBridge AI™ Platform enables pre-arranged monitoring for specific compliance or risk areas and ad-hoc monitoring for continuous data review. Further, you can benefit from collaborating with our AI and Data Science teams to develop new concepts and implement them.
DC: What would be your one message for firms or companies looking to improve and protect how they manage their financial controls or looking to partner with an advanced AI regulatory technology like MindBridge?
JC: Call me! Seriously, I’m all ears and want to know what people are interested in.
Really, though, I go back to a fundamental tenet of success in implementing technology; it’s a People, Process, and Technology solve – you can’t just have one part and expect success. Change management and updating programs and processes while harmonizing new use cases enabled by technology is something we will help you do, just don’t hesitate to ask.
MindBridge onboarding is designed to help customers at every step of the journey. We bring the right skills to you in an efficient format to get you up and running quickly with our built-in capabilities to identify risk without any coding needed on your part, helping to complement your business needs and see results fast.
John Colthart (JC)
SVP, Client Growth Programs
Reach me at JC@MindBridge.ai