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Ah, the 1960s — the decade of counterculture, free love, Mad Men and the first corporate credit card. Ever since then, as more businesses have adopted corporate cards and sought to manage employee expenses, the number of tools and services to assist them has proliferated.
But today, nearly 60 years later, one of the newest — the corporate card and expense software startup Ramp — is introducing the latest evolution of business expense tracking and management technology for companies with complex finances: Ramp Plus.
In addition, the company is announcing that it has secured the exclusive expense management business of none other than Shopify, the Canadian e-commerce platform giant that has been on a tough road of late, retreating from its costly logistics business. With Ramp, the hope is that Shopify can reign in costs even further.
“We are the most comprehensive financial operations solution available in the market,” said Ramp cofounder and CEO Eric Glyman in an email to VentureBeat. “Our unified platform offers customers a corporate card and seamless expense management, bill payments, vendor management and price intelligence, working capital support, and now a fully automated procure-to-pay solution.”
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What Ramp Plus offers
Ramp Plus is a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering available to Ramp’s business customers beginning in September, which builds on Ramp’s existing expense management and tracking solutions. Ramp is granting complimentary access of Ramp Plus to its small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and mid-market customers for one year as a token of gratitude for their loyalty.
Ramp Plus is “purpose-built for businesses with complex financial needs,” according to Ramp, and its features include:
- An automated and customizable procurement solution to keep tabs on “shadow spend” as businesses scale.
- Consolidated global spend management for domestic and international entities, facilitating effortless scaling and global operations.
- User-friendly custom workflows to automate complex financial processes swiftly and without any need for coding.
- Advanced roles, permissions and policy enforcement to prevent overspending.
- Seamless integration with existing business systems, from HRIS to ERP and data warehousing, supported by flexible integrations and industry-leading APIs.
What is “shadow spend?” And why is Ramp focused on helping businesses and CFOs/accounting departments reduce it?
Shadow spend is a term used to describe unauthorized expenses made by employees of a company and charged to the business.
“Gaining visibility into employee purchases (aka ‘shadow’ or ‘indirect’ spend) is a top priority for CFOs, and the varied nature of these expenses make it hard to quantify,” Glyman told VentureBeat. “We do know that cost control is top of mind for CFOs, with vendor/supplier costs and tech investments as the top two expense areas to manage.”
While there are few reliable statistics for how much shadow spend costs enterprises on average or in total, Ramp believes it is a significant enough amount to warrant developing new features to track and manage, namely, the new Ramp Plus automated procurement solution.
Using Ramp Plus, “employees have a centralized place to request spend and maintain visibility throughout the buying process,” Glyman explained to VentureBeat via email. He added that it “gives finance teams the tighter purchasing controls needed to get more spend under management and prevent out-of-policy spend before it even happens.”
Specifically, using Ramp Plus, employee spending requests “are routed through highly configurable approval workflows, and upon approval, generate a virtual card for the employee to go buy what they need, or a purchase order for finance teams to track and match to invoices in Ramp’s Accounts Payable tab.”
Moreover, recognizing the global footprint of both its own operations and those of its customers, Ramp says Ramp Plus supports “international debiting and the ability to manage multiple entities on Ramp.
Ultimately, the goal of Ramp Plus is to make it much easier for businesses to be able to track and manage employee spending without getting in the way of their actual legitimate business purchases.
“For most businesses without a procurement team, employee purchases are disjointedly tracked and managed through a combination of intake forms and email chains,” Glyman told VentureBeat. “As companies scale, so does the volume of unmanaged employee purchases dispersed across teams, leaving it to finance departments to establish an efficient buying process that gives complete visibility on upcoming purchases and clear policy controls to optimize costs without slowing down the business to buy what they need.”
Ramp Plus seeks to do away with all of that — or at least, to streamline it all so that neither businesses nor their employees are held up by accounting issues.
Why Shopify chose Ramp as its exclusive business expense management provider
Ramp was founded in 2019 by a trio of co-founders including Glyman (CEO), Karim Atiyeh (CTO), and Gene Lee (CPO). It has since grown quickly into a leading enterprise technology vendor with 15,000 businesses as customers across 70 countries, hundreds of thousands of individual cardholders, and saved its customers $600 million and more than 8.5 million hours of expense tracking and processing, according to the company.
Among those customers are Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Waymo, Classpass, Glossier, Poshmark, Eventbrite and Virgin Voyages. At Ramp’s last disclosed valuation in early 2022, the corporate card/expense management software startup was worth more than $8 billion.
In an endorsement of Ramp’s unique financial solutions, Phil Whitham, Director and International Controller at Shopify, said, “Our needs are incredibly complex. We tried to build a platform ourselves but found Ramp to be the perfect fit with the features we needed, now and in the future. Ramp has shown the commitment we need from a long-term partner, supporting our decade-long hypergrowth.”
Hypergrowth could also describe Ramp’s own trajectory, with the company reporting 100% growth in global customers and 83% growth in enterprise customers in the last six months alone. Now with Ramp Plus and Shopify under its belt, the startup is poised to continue its expansion, challenging corporate card stalwarts like American Express and SAP Concur.
“We also are the most comprehensive financial operations solution available in the market,” Glyman told VentureBeat. “Ramp is the only company aligning our bottom line with our customers spending less. That’s why we’re seeing industry-leading growth, with the majority of Ramp’s enterprise and midmarket customers in the last 6 months coming from AmEx, Bill, Concur, or Expensify.”
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