Startups

A Georgetown software developer created a startup to automate spreadsheets

Georgetown Software House founder Bediako George built Pebble Stream to provide a better, code-enabled way to use spreadsheets.

Coding. (Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash)

As a founder and programmer, DC’s Bediako George boasts nearly a quarter-century of experience in coding.

The founder of Georgetown Software House is a programmer by trade who spent the last few years working as a software consultant. In that role, he said, a frequent ask was to convert spreadsheets with important data into something scalable that can run in the cloud, processing millions of data pieces. But moving spreadsheets that predict things like mortgage-backed securities’ cash flow over the next 20 years to code from scratch would take tons of time.

“That process would take months, more often than not — sometimes weeks and, in some cases, a year to finish that project just based off of a spreadsheet,” George told Technical.ly. “And so I decided this really is probably something that could be automated.”

To help, George created Pebble Stream, a software company based out of Georgetown that converts spreadsheets into code. Effectively, George said, the company created a spreadsheet without a GUI, which runs the spreadsheet in a headless banner; In other words, companies can manage spreadsheet data with code. Pebble Stream’s Zen product was made to showcase some of the top technology that George and his team developed over the past few years.

Running a spreadsheet without a GUI means a much lighter spreadsheet app, George said. That means users can run many spreadsheets simultaneously, as long as they have the requisite computing power. The product will run on JavaScript, Java or C++ for spreadsheets built on Google Sheets, and the company is looking into an option for Excel. With Pebble Stream, he said companies can automate activities they would normally have to do manually.

A headshot of Bediako George

Bediako George. (Courtesy photo)

Pebble Stream’s automation, he said, means that spreadsheet management is more seamless. With it, programmers don’t need to understand the ins and outs and requirements of business analysts; It’s just a “jump from idea and spreadsheet to execution and cloud.”

“Once you shifted that capability of the development from developers to the business analysts, a lot of these other projects now become within reach from an economic perspective,” George added.

Currently, the eight-person company operates both remotely and out of the Georgetown Software House. George said about 50 entities have downloaded the software so far, including EY, a DC nonprofit using the product to manage donations, and a fishery in New Zealand trying to manage orders. Although the product was produced by the consulting firm, Pebble Stream is incorporated separately. Now, George is in the process of merging the two entities.

George thinks the Pebble Stream and Zen products are useful for both small and larger organizations, and he’s targeting both as the company grows. For small companies, once the information is codified, it can be used “forevermore” and be one less thing for the company to worry about. Larger orgs and companies, he said, can get a better understanding of what’s happening in production while freeing up developers to focus on issues like performance and security.

But in general, he said, the software makes development capabilities possible for business analysts.

“It means that a business analyst is now a programmer,” George said. “So anyone who understands Excel and is familiar with Excel can now program and write code that will run at scale in the cloud.”

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