How Marshmallow Brought Together Finance and IT to Unlock Growth

The always-smiling Head of Finance Jenny Liu shares how one of the fastest-growing UK unicorns manages their SaaS subscriptions.

Jenny Liu
London, UK
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Chances are, if you live in the UK, you’ve heard of Marshmallow.

London is the world capital for insurance. Every company doing anything relevant in the industry wants to be there. And Marshmallow is one of the sector disruptors that everyone is looking at today. 

In fact, the digital insurance company recently became the first black-owned British unicorn, by raising a $85M Series B at a whopping $1.25Bn valuation. Amazing.

We talked to their wonderful Head of Finance, Jenny Liu, to get insight into their process to manage one of their top three expenses: SaaS subscriptions. Let’s dive in.

“Cledara has given us a better oversight of all of our subscription costs and a way to manage purchases securely. We’re very thankful for how they’ve helped manage our SaaS.”

Implementing better security as the company scales

Just like many successful tech startups, the growth at Marshmallow was very organic in the early days. “I remember I could process all the invoices and set up all the card payments myself,” Jenny recalls.

“But despite everything being under my control, I knew it really wasn't scalable.”

The company didn’t have approval processes in place yet, so the go-to for software purchases was to simply share card details around in the company (sound familiar?) and then employees would sign up and pay for what they needed.

And then it happened: Two card fraud issues. 

“That was when we decided: okay, we can't share card details on payments anymore.”

How Cledara helped

Jenny quickly realized that, like many other insurtech startups, much of their service payments were related to SaaS subscriptions. They signed up to Cledara to manage them all securely.

Today, all software purchases at Marshmallow are safe again. They are all done with Cledara’s virtual cards, one card for every subscription. And the good thing is that they’re all linked to budgets Jenny previously approves.

“We now have the same control I had back in the day when everything was purely organic,” Jenny claims. “It’s just what I needed."

Streamlining finance

Before Cledara, Marshmallow’s finance team had a rough time chasing invoices from teams around the company and reconciling them to their correct payments every month. 

Jenny confessed to us that “we used to waste 1-2 full days a month on just invoices".

How Cledara helped

Now all of the invoices are collected automatically and matched. “We don't have to do anything on the invoices side. No hands required! It’s a massive timesaver on all fronts, especially on the bookkeeping side”.

An unexpected benefit was helping company culture - improving communication between teams isn't helped by chasing employees for invoices every month.

Making ISO27001 achievable

Compliance and IT risk are best addressed when teams across functions collaborate, because everyone plays a part.

This issue magnifies as companies scale, until it typically gets out of hand.

How Cledara helped

“Cledara’s compliance module prompted us to think about how to evaluate the IT risk of all our tools,” explained Jenny. “Something we hadn’t really addressed and are looking to do so”. 

It’s never too early to put the right SaaS management tool with built-in compliance. The complexity and concern around compliance becomes much more natural and manageable.

Jenny’s highlight — Collaboration!

“Our teams collaborate better now because they know what software they can use and approvals are 100% streamlined”. It also brought Finance and IT together "My IT colleague, who is responsible for user access, really likes the fact that he has one place to go to see all company software”

We thank Jenny at Marshmallow for her time and for her commitment to better managing her software subscriptions with Cledara.

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