Fintech Firm Changes Name, Targets Spreadsheet Errors

Fintech Firm Changes Name, Targets Spreadsheet Errors
Marla Johnson

Two weeks ago, Cobbler Technologies Inc. of Little Rock was listed as one of the 10 companies participating in this year’s online FIS Fintech Accelerator program, and it’s already changed its name.

Cobbler is now doing business under the name of its product, LeapXL.

“We had a few encounters this past week that showed us that having our product and company name be different could be a problem for us going forward,” CEO and co-founder Marla Johnson told Arkansas Business.

She said the decision was based on feedback the 2-year-old company has received from the Venture Center in Little Rock, which hosts the accelerator, and the bank executives the company's executives met during the program. The accelerator is sponsored by financial software provider FIS of Jacksonville, Florida, and the state.

“What we hope to get is a really deep understanding of the challenges that bankers are faced with — and FIS, too, as a fintech company. And we want to figure out how our platform can bring tremendous value to the industry,” Johnson said in explaining why the company applied for the program.

“We want to grow a base of strong and loyal banking customers who will be able to use our platform to speed their business processes and ease pressure that they have from … all this complex, disparate data, auditing and compliance regulations.”

LeapXL offers a drag-and-drop application publishing platform designed to turn spreadsheet data and formulas into shareable, productivity-boosting, cloud-based web applications and real-time reports.

Johnson described it as a “no-code” platform, meaning the user — typically a subject matter expert such as a mortgage lender — doesn’t need any coding or programming experience to use it.

She said using the platform requires less than two hours of training. Johnson added that industry experts believe the majority of application development will soon occur on no-code platforms.

She founded the company with Brian Stack, who serves as its chief technology officer. Both had decades of experience in application development, Johnson as co-founder and the former CEO of Aristotle Inc. in Little Rock and Stack as an entrepreneur since the 1980s.

One company Stack founded, Oak Tree Construction Computers/Oak Tree Medical Systems, went public in 1988, and he holds five patents for technologies he’s invented. Johnson also founded marketing and media consulting firm Smart Media LLC in Bentonville.

“One of the things we started discovering was something that we jokingly refer to as the spreadsheet apocalypse, which is that, to avoid programming/coding challenges, a lot of people are manageing mission-critical processes like pricing and board reports in spreadsheets,” Johnson said. “There’s billions of dollars lost every year because of spreadsheet errors.”

Critical business decisions are being made in a process that isn’t transparent, easily shared or controllable, she said, and about 1 billion people use spreadsheets.

“So there’s a lot of business risk, and banks have not been an exception,” Johnson said.

The LeapXL platform provides for controlled access to and automatically audits data from spreadsheets. It reports who approved data, who changed it, what changes were made and when they were made. Real-time reporting and data quality are also ensured, Johnson said.

She and Stack decided to target the financial sector. They tested their platform, and the company is now poised to enter that market, Johnson said.

It has competitors, of course, but ease of use is something that sets it apart. “On other platforms, you have to learn how to diagram, what processes to run and how you want it to work," she said. “But, with us, you just upload your spreadsheet, and we not only ingest that data, but we also take the formulas and turn that into the application logic. It truly is no-code, and all your formatting and layout can be handled by dragging and dropping."

She added that LeapXL is also unique in that it can connect to any software and pull data from it.

The company is self-funded and not yet profitable, she said.

Its business model includes selling subscriptions and various training packages, selling its team’s creation and deployment of applications, and selling its consultants’ training of subject-matter experts to deploy software, on a contractual basis.