When the Indian-born Gita traveled to the country of her roots for volunteer work for the first time at the age of 30, she discovered the now famous chai latte: a black tea with herbs and milk. She liked the drink so much that, when she got home, she turned it into a business plan. Together with her partner, who was on the verge of growth and professionalization with his trading company, Beanworks Seeds and Grains, in organic grains, seeds and legumes, she founded Chalo. Five years later, both companies have a consolidated turnover of approximately 18 million euros. It goes without saying that this also includes professional and frequent financial and operational reporting.
Under the brand name Chalo, Gita Van den Boer and her partner Peter Goethals inspire people to eat differently, with funky products and ingredients from other climates and cultures. Together with the sister company and trading house Beanworks Seeds & Grains, they buy pulses, grains, seeds, and superfoods in bulk from all over the world, to sell them to the European food industry.
“Right from the start of our companies, Peter and I dreamed of frequent reporting,” Gita begins enthusiastically. “Numbers would help us to direct the business and grow it further.” However, as long as they did not employ an accountant themselves, they had to rely on an external accountant. “That had its disadvantages: we were dependent, and the figures were supplied in a static form. We wanted more. After all, we have big ambitions. Being able to budget and continuously monitor the figures is a must for us, in order to give direction to the company.”
After Gita and Peter initially went with another tool, they eventually ended up with BrightAnalytics. “From the very first meeting with BrightAnalytics, everything went smoothly. Our commercial contact person did a top-notch job of expectation management. He told us what the options were, how long each step would take, and also delivered on his promises. I know how exceptional that is in IT: you often get disappointed after the initial meeting because you end up with other employees who didn’t get the functional analysis right, which leaves communication gaps.”
At BrightAnalytics, it was anything but that, says Gita. “There are people behind the company. They are available, accessible and communicate about what they do. That’s how you make it today. It creates calm and confidence. We now know: if there’s ever anything the matter, we’ll sort that out too.” The fact that the implementation went smoothly as well, she considers an additional advantage. “We took the structure from our P&L and implemented our mapping over that.”
Meanwhile, Gita has BrightAnalytics open anytime, anywhere. “The system is continuously up-to-date, without us having to intervene manually. Every day, I have an interim status of all the data that is important to us for each company. It is also easy to track down accounting errors. When it comes to budgeting, we can try, play and test scenarios. This makes budgeting workable, and the threshold to get started is less high.”
The next step for Chalo is to use BrightAnalytics for operational reporting as well. “We are going to organize our CRM in such a way that our KPIs will automatically roll out of BrightAnalytics. Clear, professional and flexible, and in a uniform way for our two companies, which are, after all, essentially different in terms of financial structure and steering mechanism.”
The company’s accountancy department is also managed by Gita, using BrightAnalytics. Additionally, employees with a financial or administrative role often have their own access – each with their own authorization and limited or no access – so that they can check financial or administrative data. “Before, we couldn’t keep an eye on these things. We were on a ship, we were sailing, but we didn’t see anything,” says Gita. “Now we can steer: continuously measure, monitor and adjust the company objectives. That has literally brought us to where we are today. The fact that this is possible gives me peace of mind.”