by Remy Noelle
August 28, 2019

In a world of growing efficiency — from managing your workflow in a SaaS platform to ordering a shared ride or take-out food (or both) from your phone — there seems to be a profession that's straggling behind: accounting. Often the most mundane, manual tasks are accepted as routine, but Sherman Oaks-based FloQast is changing that notion.

Their latest product, FloQast Match, was created to help accounting teams organize and automate the month-end close process to expedite the motions of closing the books each month. Using AI-based algorithms, Match assists with month-end reconciliation, affording accountants more time to spend on analysis and procedural improvements.

We met with three of FloQast’s team members to learn more about their technology, its success and where FloQast is headed.

 

floqast LA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Alicia Cho
floqast offices
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Alicia Cho
floqast office layout
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Alicia Cho

 

FOUNDED: 2013

EMPLOYEES: 138; 129 locally

WHAT THEY DO: FloQast develops cloud-based software, designed by accountants for accountants, to close faster and more accurately. This allows accounting teams to spend more time on analysis and on improving the business.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Sherman Oaks

PERKS TO MENTION: Unlimited vacation and 100 percent paid healthcare for employees and their families. 

IN THE KNOW: 25 percent of FloQast employees are former accountants or auditors.

 

engineering floqast

Amit Nayar, Vice President of Engineering

 

Amit Nayar, Vice President of Engineering

Amit heads up FloQast’s engineering department and is an active leader in the company’s people, process and technology decisions.

TEE-OFF TRAVELER: Amit is an avid golfer and also loves to travel; his ideal vacation includes a few rounds on the course.

 

What about your company or your work inspires you?

It may sound cliche, but our people truly inspire me. We have highly-intelligent people who are fantastic to work with. We feel we have a tremendous opportunity to make a huge impact on the accounting space and to change the close process for businesses accustomed to managing the process in an outdated, inefficient manner. We are driven to make a meaningful impact on our customers’ lives, and that’s truly inspiring to be a part of.
 

You never know where the best product ideas will come from, so we don’t limit anyone from providing input.” 


What does new product development look like at FloQast, from start to finish? Where do different teams cross-collaborate, and how much involvement does the team have in shaping new products?

We have a hyper-collaborative product development process at FloQast. We don’t limit ideation to a select few people: We gather product inputs from every source we can think of because we feel building great products is a team sport. We gather feedback from our customers, prospective customers, our internal subject matter experts, as well as use data and the expertise from our product and engineering personnel. You never know where the best product ideas will come from, so we don’t limit anyone from providing input. Our product and engineering personnel are critical to deciding what will be built and how and when it will be built, but the ideas come from everywhere.

 

Where do you see FloQast’s product in six months? What about in one year? How will your team get there?

We are heavily invested in enhancing our core close management platform, in addition to iterating on the next releases of our newer offerings. We are also continuing to work on a couple of new product areas that we plan to launch in the coming year that will help our customers further improve their accounting processes. Our team will get there, much like we have gotten to where we are today, with a relentless focus on what drives the greatest value for our customers and continuing to drive value through ease of use and automation. 

 

floqast engineering team

software engineers floqast

 

Jiuyun Wang, Senior Software Engineer

As a senior software engineer, Jiuyun works cross-functionally between R&D, software architecture and proof of concept for FloQast’s products.

READY, SET, GO: Outside the office, Jiuyun enjoys playing Go — a strategy board game that is believed to have been invented 2,500 years ago.

  

What did the FloQast Match development process look like, from start to finish, to incorporate AI into the product?

When I started in 2018, FloQast was in the process of building the Match product. The team had set some goals for our first version of the product, and I was tasked with researching data matching algorithms in conjunction with the team’s efforts to build the product. Within a couple of months, we saw a method to implement AI-based algorithms that we felt could advance our matching capabilities in a major way, compared with our original deliverables. The deadline was only a few months away, so I began building the algorithms into a highly-scalable and performant back end system.

Ultimately, this allowed us to quickly change our roadmap to incorporate an AI-based matching solution to market by the end of the first quarter of 2019. We continue to add capabilities to the engine to support a wide set of matching use cases — it’s been a fun challenge to solve this complex problem.
 

We don’t have a hierarchy; everyone contributes their ideas, and we test them to see if they’re the right solution.” 


What’s your tech stack comprised of? Why did you choose it?

Our front end is Javascript (React), but the back end is C++, which we are running on AWS. The reason we chose C++ was for the sake of efficient memory consumption and the speed of computation — Match consumes a significant amount of memory and computing power.

 

What is the breakdown of a developer’s day? What is unique about the day to day for a developer on your team?

Each day is different. Usually, my day involves studying data, troubleshooting failure cases, reviewing research papers, implementing new ideas and comparing results.

Our team is unique in that the best ideas win out. We don’t have a hierarchy; everyone contributes their ideas, and we test them to see if they’re the right solution. The ideal candidate is someone who isn’t afraid of making mistakes or being considered outspoken. They love to learn new things and solve challenging problems by thinking outside the box. We want someone who wonders: Is there a better way? 

 

accounting jobs floqast

accounting floqast

 

Alex Nordin, Senior Tech Accounting Consultant 

Alex works closely with the customer success and product development teams to support all FloQast Match needs and takes part in onboarding new and prospective FloQast users, providing customer support along the way. Additionally, Alex is a certified public accountant and worked for a Big Four accounting firm prior to FloQast.

FROM SAND TO STADIUM: In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing both outdoor and indoor volleyball.

 

How have you seen FloQast Match positively impact the accountants you support? How are accountants adapting to the product? 

With FloQast Match, we’ve helped accountants save hours — in some cases, even days — of time spent reconciling their accounts each month. Before using this tool, one accountant I worked with would manually color code their general ledger (GL) transactions in Excel to show they had cleared the bank. This task was particularly cumbersome when there were batch transactions in the GL that clear to only one transaction in the bank. With FloQast Match, this individual no longer had to perform this task and instead was able to focus on more value-added work, like analyzing differences and thinking of ways to enhance the data coming into the GL.
 

Without everyone’s combined effort, Match would not be anywhere close to where it is today.”


What does new product development look like at FloQast, from start to finish? Where do different teams cross-collaborate, and how much involvement does the team have in shaping new products? 

Product development at FloQast always starts with feedback that we receive from current clients and prospects. From there, we can understand what the major pain points are around the month-end close and how FloQast might fit in. Getting feedback is a collaborative effort across sales, marketing, and account management, and it’s rewarding to work with these teams to ensure our products address the needs of all stakeholders. Without everyone’s combined effort, Match would not be anywhere close to where it is today.

 

How does the team handle situations in which developers have different opinions on how to solve technical challenges?

FloQast is unique because many of the technical challenges center around accounting processes that most developers aren’t familiar with. Interestingly enough, one of the major knowledge gaps is around Microsoft Excel, which is a tool that is second nature to all accountants. To help bridge these gaps, the team holds weekly product grooming sessions to hash out any questions and to ensure the product design will actually help accountants do their work in an intuitive manner that won’t seem like a complete overhaul of their existing processes. 

These grooming sessions also go over what is actually possible within the application and if we need to give or remove any functionality. This collaboration is helpful for me, because as a CPA, I might have ideas I’d like to incorporate into the product. The engineering team can help shape what I was looking for and often suggest additions that I wouldn’t have considered.

 

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