Liam Clements, CFO of NFT platform Sturdy Exchange, wants to focus on strategy and growth, so decided on Glean AI to increase his value-add. Sturdy Exchange provides a curated NFT experience for collectors, working directly with creators using an easy-to-navigate platform making NFTs accessible for everyone. Founded in early 2021, Sturdy Exchange went live in fall 2021.
Liam Clements had an epiphany a few months into his new role as CFO of Sturdy Exchange.
“My background is in Ventures and Acquisitions at Accenture, which is a huge company with a very robust finance department, as you can imagine. Joining a start-up where I was the CFO, in addition to wearing a number of other hats, was eye-opening.
“I knew my time was best spent focusing on strategy and business direction. But there I sat, logged into our bank account, manually entering routing numbers, account numbers and payment amounts. “Something had to give.”
Finance leaders, at their core, want two things: One, to get things done. And two, to be sure that their numbers accurately represent where the company is financially at any given time.
Liam says, “Leading finance professionals are always advising CFOs to ‘get out of the weeds’ in order to provide more value-add to their organizations; this is often accomplished through automation.”
While it is true that automation gets things done faster, it cannot be at the expense of accuracy. Says Liam, “In choosing an AP management tool, I needed to be sure it was not just automating manual processes but doing so accurately. I needed to be confident that I was representing our financials correctly and getting vendors paid on time.
“Glean does both, which is why I picked Glean AI for Sturdy Exchange.”
"Because Glean AI tracks and analyzes all of our vendors, providing me with reports and insights (aka ‘gleans’) on fluctuations by month and historically, we are able to operate lean during our important build phase."
One of Liam’s core responsibilities is budgeting and forecasting, which can be challenging in the NFT space.
“We know our hard costs — whether it be, creative services, marketing, legal, or similar — but projecting these out can be difficult in such a rapidly-evolving industry. In addition to these hard costs, we’ve also got our developer costs and related vendor costs, such as smaller SAS providers.
As a first-time CFO, Liam was looking for an AP tool he could trust that would make his life easier. After a short search and evaluation of a few AP tools, he knew Glean AI was the right fit.
“Glean AI’s dashboard and reporting tools are excellent, and they continue to be built out over time, which is super helpful.”
“Glean AI’s tiered pricing structure is ideal for start-ups that may not have big numbers of invoices each month but want to be prepared for when numbers start increasing. We’re not processing hundreds of invoices a month, but we will be.”
Liam opted for Glean AI because it is lean, affordable, saves time, and works with Sturdy Exchange’s existing finance processes.
Says Liam, “Naturally, as a start-up, our processes are a bit disjointed, which is normal. For where we are as a company, it works. This is where Glean AI has an advantage over the bigger guys: it knows and understands newer, smaller businesses.”
Although the bigger ERP systems are powerful, their cost and need for dedicated staff make them not a great option for companies like Sturdy Exchange.
Liam explains, “I briefly looked at other well known systems but we don’t have $50,000 to spend on implementation and other charges. And at the end of the day, who is actually going to run the giant system, punching in all those numbers?We don't have a dedicated person so I realized it would have to be me.
“As well, as a start-up, I often look at other start-ups for innovation. The bigger companies may be more powerful, but they are just not as agile.”
Says Liam, “Even as early as the demo, I could tell that Glean AI's user experience was solid. The process couldn't be simpler.
I forward a PDF invoice to our finance inbox, the system auto uploads it into Glean AI's dashboard and uses AI to pull, store and analyze all of the relevant information. It can be done in under a minute.”
Another important advantage is Glean AI's commitment to ongoing enhancements; in Liam’s case, it was international payments. “I needed international payments because we work with artists from Korea, the UK, across Europe, etc. My contact at Glean AI told me that this was something they were working on, and within a few months, the functionality was added.”
“Customer service at Glean AI has been great. My contact, Cassie, has regular checkpoints to ask me about new features I am interested in and to make sure I’m aware of all the new functionality on the site. Overall, it has been a very positive experience.”