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Sreya Chatterjee of TerminusDB

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Pleo Hero: Sreya Chatterjee, TerminusDB

It’s less than a year since Pleo launched in Ireland. In that time, we’ve been really impressed by how many Irish companies are keen to sign up with us.

But we wanted to give them some time to bed in with their cards before we profiled them.

(And look, I’m Irish – that first Pleo Hero based in my hometown absolutely had to be special.)

Good news! TerminusDB is special – a young, ambitious tech company that spun out of the world-famous Trinity College. 

We spoke to their Lead Administrator Sreya Chatterjee about managing software subscriptions and what happened to their spending as lockdown hit.

Tell us about TerminusDB.

Our CEO Kevin [Feeney] and our CTO Gavin [Mendel-Gleason] were working together at Trinity College… on a global history databank. 

It was, not surprisingly, a lot of data. Spanning decades – centuries actually – and the question for them was, how do you analyse all of that?

They started developing the idea for a few years… until TerminusDB was born in 2018.

TerminusDB is a powerful and sophisticated analytics engine... It’s like Git, but for data, that’s the analogy we use. Our mission is to enable people to collaborate on curating and analysing complex data to get actionable insights.

What’s the journey that brought you to TerminusDB?

I did my second Masters in Human Resource Management in Dublin and I’ve always liked the idea of working at start-ups. You have more room to play around and make an impact and you get a say in how the company can grow.

So when I was looking for jobs I was looking for companies that valued their employees and aligned with my own values. 

When you joined in 2019, how did company spending work?

Before lockdown, we tended to travel a lot for company workshops, conferences, tech events. 

On top of that, we obviously purchased a lot of software and equipment. 

There were two company credit cards, with the details shared around if people wanted to purchase something. 

Or people would buy stuff with their own card and it would be reimbursed later, but then that brought the whole nightmare of tracking down receipts. It was really time-consuming and it wasn’t the optimum way to work – especially when you’re working in a start-up! 

It’s pretty understandable – the frustration around expenses.

Yeah, it was crazy. We have external accountants but you still need to have your receipts and get all of that in order.

And you also need to know where your money is going and what people are spending on.

We couldn’t track real-time who was spending on what.

But our Director of Services is always looking for new tools and software, better ways for us to work – he suggested Pleo.

It’s made it so much easier from an administrative perspective. It’s helpful to have that real-time view of what we’re spending on.

All of us have Pleo cards now, everyone in the company. We function in a high trust, high transparency kind of manner. 

We talk about trust and transparency a lot. It’s good to hear that from you too.

The Pleo card is 100% a show of that trust – but obviously, at the same time, I’m seeing where the money is going!

Everyone believes in what we’re doing, they’ve spent hours and hours on building TerminusDB. 

You can tell they really want to be part of the team – so the fact they have a Pleo card enables them to work better in that team, to work more efficiently.

And you mentioned that subscriptions are a big thing for you guys.

It’s great for our team to have the freedom to sign up to the tools they need – but you do need to keep track of what you subscribe to. 

Things like whether you’re signing up for two similar tools that solve the same problem, and you need to choose one over the other.

Pleo makes it a lot easier to handle that kind of thing.

So with travel cut down, equipment is the other big category of spending then?

It is. A good laptop, headset, table or chair – we want people to get the right equipment when they’re working from home.

During the lockdown, we’ve been hopping on Discord to share thoughts on which mouse or headset works well. And given it’s a company of tech geeks, people will want the best of the best!

Tell us something about Pleo that helps make your job as Lead Administrator a bit easier.

For me, the most useful element of Pleo is the categories. I can see how much we’re spending on food for the month, how much we’re spending on subscriptions… It makes everything easier. 

And I think another great thing is the customer service. They have been very responsive if we’ve ever had issues. When you get responses within five minutes, it’s so so helpful. 

If the person you were chatting to isn’t available, they’ll always make sure there’s someone else to follow up with you. That’s so valuable – your question is always going to be attended to.

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