If there’s one word that best describes the underlying pain point that Juan Porras has sought to solve throughout his career, it would be inefficiency.
From his first job out of college—which he left after frustration from its corporate bureaucracy—to his most recent startup, Rheti, he has worked to streamline processes and increase productivity. His latest effort is Factivate, a startup taking on the inherent inefficiencies that result when data is transferred into spreadsheets to create reports and track progress.
The company is still in stealth mode, but it has already graduated from an accelerator program in Boulder and attracted $300,000 in local investment from David Gardner’s new fund, Cofounder’s Capital. I sat down with Juan a few weeks ago to learn about Factivate and how he plans to revolutionize spreadsheets.
The last time we profiled Porras, he was knee-deep in fine-tuning the technology behind his previous startup, Rheti. Launched in 2012, Rheti was an Android app that made it easy and quick for technology novices to build and customize their own apps. At its most basic level, the app was meant to cut out the duplicative work developers go through each time they build an app. He wanted to free up their time to focus on the creative, more innovative aspects of app development.
By 2014, Porras and his partner Ralph Talvarez had gained enough traction to earn acceptance and investment from the Colorado-based accelerator Boomtown. Once in Boulder, Porras learned about developers who created apps using spreadsheets. He realized that they were increasing inefficiencies for everyone from developers to marketers and everyone in between. He says, “there were some really big problems with spreadsheets that were very obvious that no one was solving.”
And since no one else was solving the problems, he decided he should. So one month into the 12-week accelerator program, Rheti pivoted to Factivate.
Porras came to love Boulder, but he finished the accelerator and brought Factivate back to Durham. He’d established roots in the town and recognized the creative talent available here.
Porras was introduced to Gardner soon after. Since Cofounders Capital focuses mostly on business-to-business software, Factivate fit right into its wheelhouse. And Gardner was impressed by Porras’s dedication and willingness to learn and be coached. They began a three-month due diligence process which Porras describes as “really like having a mentor who was only interested in making my business better.” In the end, Gardner’s first impression was validated by the process and he made his typical seed investment of $300,000 in the company.
Factivate the product is a cloud-based data analytics platform that allows users to connect their spreadsheets to real-time data sources. At first glance, it looks almost identical to an Excel spreadsheet. This is purposeful.
But his ultimate goal is to make other people’s lives easier. And by eliminating the inefficiencies reporting from traditional spreadsheets causes, he might just accomplish that goal.