Anaplan is Unlike Any Company I’ve Ever Seen

Shasta Ventures
3 min readJun 5, 2017

Its Connected Planning is the First Integrated Enterprise Application Platform for Knowledge Workers & Decision Makers

By Ravi Mohan, Managing Director, Shasta Ventures

When I first learned about Anaplan six years ago, I was excited by the founders’ bold vision for a global connected planning platform, but I wondered how they would take their solution to market. They said, “Look, we can model anything” and my response was, “That’s great, but who do you sell that to?” Generally, application software product-market fit is about focusing on a specific use case and specific buyer, not going after the entire world. At the time, Anaplan had 10 customers and was projecting $300,000 in revenue.

But Anaplan is unlike any company I’ve ever seen. Its single technology powers multiple use cases that help companies respond in an agile manner to changes in business conditions — across departments, across industries, across geos. Last year, the company generated $125 million in revenue a year. More significantly, Anaplan is the first company to be recognized by Gartner in 5 distinct market categories; three Magic Quadrants, 1 Hype Cycle and 1 Market Guide. I believe this is the first time a single product has demonstrated such versatility to be recognized in 5 distinct software categories. Has a company the size of Anaplan created 5 different applications? No. Anaplan’s customers and users use the same platform and have modeled different business problems with clicks — not through code. The resulting applications drive decision making for the world’s biggest companies including P&G, Cisco, Diageo, Salesforce and Google. The people of Anaplan turned the founders’ vision into reality.

Before Anaplan, business users could only use Excel to model business problems. Excel is flexible, but it’s limited to two dimensions due to the row and column construct. Complicated business modeling problems usually require multiple dimensions. For instance if a company needs to create a sales quota plan for all their sales representatives in different geographies and the company sells multiple products for the year, one needs to model at least three dimensions — geography, product and time. Excel doesn’t cut it. Excel or Google spreadsheets cannot manage data and calculations easily across multiple dimensions, but Anaplan can.

In 2006, Michael Gould founded Anaplan when he realized that the existing vendor architecture could not support the next generation planning. He developed the Hyperblock™, Anaplan’s secret sauce that creates a single modeling environment for entire organizations. The engine can manage data across multiple dimensions and can recalculate massive models at lightning speed. An organization with hundreds of thousands of sales reps working across hundreds of territories and multiple geographies selling thousands of SKUs rolled up into hundreds of products can use Anaplan to run any planning process and make fast, more effective decisions. Anaplan can model sales, workforce, finance & budgeting, marketing, the supply chain and IT — all from the same codebase. That’s the magic.

Most application software companies go to market with a specific use case aimed at a specific buyer in a single geography. But based on inbound customer interest, Anaplan started with three and went international right away. Anaplan is the only company I know that, from the start, developed and delivered a product that successfully crossed geographies and use cases. And that’s because it was built on one underlying tech platform — not different applications. I was wary at first. I thought Anaplan had to constrain their ambitions. They needed to pick specific one use cases like financial budgeting and planning and put their limited resources behind it.

Now, five years later, Anaplan’s growth is astounding. With more than 660 global customers encompassing tens of thousands of “Anaplanners,” Today, Anaplan is in the process of connecting these applications together at its customers so they can have a planning platform that connects marketing plans to sales plans to workforce plans to financial plans and supply chain plans. Amazing! The founders’, Guy Haddleton and Michael Gould, vision is a reality.

--

--

Shasta Ventures

At Shasta, we elevate early stage enterprise SaaS companies. For 15 years we’ve helped over 30 startups go public or get acquired by providing the capital and e