Excel-lent Innovations: How Georgetown Software House is Redefining Digital Technologies

Hua Wang
April 7, 2024

Bediako George, founder and CEO of Georgetown Software House in Washington, DC, is charting a transformative course in the realm of digital technologies.

Georgetown Software House, initially a consulting firm for financial companies, pivoted towards a solution that leverages the ubiquity of Excel to offer enhanced, cloud-based spreadsheet capabilities through their product, PebbleStream. This innovation serves as a bridge between the traditional functionality of Excel and the dynamic needs of modern backend systems.

“PebbleStream is a prototyping tool that empowers users to very rapidly create models and scenarios,” explains Bediako.  “They can turn these models into backend processes that can run against arbitrary sized datasets and produce the results they want, as if they had 1,000 desktops working simultaneously instead of just one desktop.”

Embracing Digital Technologies for Global Expansion

Bediako’s strategic approach encompasses the use of the Lisp programming language and a robust deployment framework that allows their technology to be seamlessly integrated across various platforms. This adaptability is crucial for meeting the diverse needs of their clientele, which spans across browsers, devices, and cloud environments like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. “Our secret weapon is our programming language… very modern, very efficient,” Bediako states, emphasizing the agility and innovation at the core of Georgetown Software House.

“We are in the process of becoming an official AWS partner,” says Bediako.  “It would be very convenient because our clients can use AWS and our services, and get just one bill from AWS.  AWS will handle the billing and we will get one payment from all our users on AWS.  It is a compelling way of doing business in the cloud.”

Leveraging Excel for International Markets

The company’s international strategy is simple yet impactful. By embedding their technology within Excel and working with developers in the US, Uzbekistan and Czech Republic, Georgetown Software House plans to extend its reach globally, capitalizing on Excel’s vast user base. “We’re going to chase our customers wherever we find them on the planet,” Bediako asserts, highlighting the global vision underpinning his company’s ambitions. This plan involves not just chasing the vast user base of Excel but also cultivating a diverse development team across continents to enhance their technology’s global applicability.

Policy Recommendations and Digital Innovation

Bediako is not shy about addressing policy implications for the tech industry. He critiques proposals like data localization requirements, digital taxes on data transmission, and compulsory source code disclosure. Each, he argues, could stifle innovation and impose undue burdens on smaller tech companies.

Data Localization Requirements

“Data localization casts a long shadow on the innovative spirit of startups,” declares Bediako.  “Such mandates introduce an immense amount of friction and significantly throttle our capacity to innovate. Each cloud provider is unique, offering its own technology suite, complete with distinct APIs, libraries, and capabilities. The obligation to confine data within local borders and to tether ourselves to local cloud providers in each jurisdiction not only undermines our agility but threatens the very core of our global service ethos. It would render our efforts to provide a consistent and seamless user experience across borders nearly impossible.”

“The thought alone that we might regress to the constraints reminiscent of the 1990s—a time when developers had to meticulously ensure software compatibility across platforms like Sun Microsystems, OnDeck Systems, Windows, or Linux—is unfathomable,” adds Bediako.  “We stand at the precipice of digital globalization; to retreat now would be to forsake the future we’re striving to build.” Bediako’s candid critique highlights the stark reality startups face in navigating the quagmire of data localization, underscoring a universal desire for innovation without borders.

Mandatory Disclosure of Source Code

“Mandatory disclosure of our source code and algorithms would severely undermine our competitive position,” Bediako passionately argues. “Our source code is, in essence, our secret sauce. It’s the cornerstone of our competitive edge, the blueprint of our innovation that differentiates us in the market. To relinquish control of our source code is akin to Heinz revealing the unique blend of 57 spices that make its ketchup iconic. Why should we surrender the keys to our innovation?”

He adds, “I fully grasp the security considerations at play. However, mandating the release of our source code isn’t the only, nor the most effective, method to address these concerns. There are myriad ways to impose security measures that safeguard user interests without stripping away the intellectual property that is foundational to our business. For startups like ours, this isn’t just a matter of principle; it’s about survival. The thought alone of such compulsory disclosure is a non-starter for us.”

Through his analogy and reasoning, Bediako sheds light on the critical importance of protecting intellectual property for the sustainability and growth of startups, illustrating the detrimental impact that forced transparency would have on innovation and competitiveness in the tech industry.

Importance of Advocacy

Bediako shares his recent experience participating in Digital Trade Lobby Day in Washington, DC, emphasizing the importance of policymakers understanding the impact of their decisions on businesses of all sizes. He recounts a ruling that significantly affected his company, underscoring the broader implications of policy decisions on the tech sector’s vitality and innovation landscape.

“Advocating for policy changes is not just important, it’s imperative for the survival and growth of startups,” Bediako asserts with conviction. “Participating in discussions with policymakers was a marathon, not a sprint. Sharing our story repeatedly was exhausting but absolutely necessary. It’s vital that lawmakers grasp the real-world implications of their decisions on businesses across the spectrum, not just the behemoths of the industry.”

Bediako recalls, “A recent policy shift regarding the R&D tax credit, which now requires amortizing the credit over five years, blindsided us. This change was not just a setback; it was a blow to our core, stripping us of crucial capital we had earmarked for innovation and scaling our team. Such policies, while perhaps aimed at larger entities, inadvertently place a disproportionate burden on startups like ours. We operate in a domain where every dollar is pivotal, where each investment is a stepping stone towards future growth.”

He emphasizes, “When policies designed with larger corporations in mind are applied universally, they can inadvertently hamstring the smaller players. If a tax change means increased expenses for big companies, those costs, in one form or another, trickle down to us. But unlike these giants, startups don’t have the cushion or resources to absorb these impacts easily.”

Bediako concludes, “It’s essential for policymakers to understand that startups are not just smaller versions of large companies. We are entities with unique challenges and contributions to the economy. A broad-brush policy approach can stifle the very innovation that drives progress. We need a seat at the table, to ensure that the voices of startups are heard, understood, and considered. After all, today’s startups are tomorrow’s industry leaders.”

Looking Ahead with Optimism

As Georgetown Software House continues to evolve, Bediako’s leadership is steering the company towards milestones, including partnerships and patents. “We’re currently talking to Microsoft about making our technology available in their marketplace,” Bediako shares, reflecting the company’s forward momentum and the potential for more growth, especially since it was just awarded its third software patent.

Bediako recently participated in Goodie Nation’s startup accelerator for diverse founders, funded by AWS and Google, among others.  “The organization was really helpful as they helped me navigate the emotional journey of being a founder, kept me on track with my key performance indicators, and coached me on sales and leadership.”

Through the integration of advanced digital technologies and a strategic approach to international expansion, Bediako and Georgetown Software House exemplify the innovative spirit driving the tech industry forward. With a keen eye on policy implications and a commitment to leveraging Excel’s global reach, Bediako’s vision for his company not only highlights the potential for digital innovation to transcend borders but also sets a blueprint for navigating the complexities of global market access in the digital age.

Georgetown Software House

Bediako George