Cloud accounting software are becoming increasingly popular. As they are not installed on a particular machine, the users get the flexibility of accessing the accounting books on the move. In the last one year at softwaresuggest, we have observed a sudden increase in requirement of such cloud-based accounting software. So, we decided to interview Harshal Katre, founder of Profitbooks, one of the popular cloud accounting software.
ProfitBooks is an affordable accounting software which provides complete financial accounting with taxation on the cloud. The company, which was founded by the trio – Harshal Katre, Mohnish and Naveen in 2012, offers the solution for all type of users. This Pune based startup is crossing boundaries to pursue the best in their field. The company has received “Hot100 Startup” award in 2014 and was named in top 3 Fin Tech Companies in India by Village Capital Fund.
Here follows the interview:
Q. Brief about your product Profitbook and what problem does it solves? Give the use Case.
ProfitBooks aims to remove the guesswork out of managing business finances. It helps businesses to stay on top of their income and expenses. ProfitBooks is extremely simple to use and offers tools for creating beautiful invoices, track expenses, manage inventory and prepare tax reports.
ProfitBooks can be used by service industry such as technology startups, independent professionals, advertising agencies, etc. and also by the business that needs to manage physical inventory such as retailers, distributors, eCommerce Marketplace sellers, etc.
Q. How did you hit upon the idea for your product?
Sometime around 2011, our co-founder CA Mohnish was discussing a problem one of his clients was facing. He had a head office in Pune, Sales team in Mumbai and a factory in Karnataka. He used to spend days in data reconciliation and never used to get updated inventory for his sales guys here in Maharashtra.
So, we thought, let’s develop a software for him which will be online and still easy to use. It took us a year to build it. That worked really well and the client was very happy. We realised that this problem might be faced by a lot of businesses and we decided to turn that software into a product. That’s how ProfitBooks was born. We launched it in 2012.
Q. How Profitbooks is different from other products in the same category?
With ProfitBooks, we have simplified the entire business accounting process. We never used accounting jargons in the application. Anyone, who can write English, is able to work with ProfitBooks and manage business finances.
At ProfitBooks, we believe that accounting is not just about recording transactions. We wanted to build something which can help a business owner to control his cash flow, reduce expenses and finally increase his profits. That’s why we added 45+ financial reports so that an entrepreneur can take an informed decision and always stay on top of his income & expenses.
Q. How did you find your first client?
We acquired contact details of businesses in Pune and sent all of them a very simple email. We just talked about how ProfitBooks can help them track income & expenses. Next day, I got a call from a publication house that sells over 12 industry specific magazines. Business owner of that company asked me to visit the office. That was the first time I was facing a real client. Fortunately, I was able to close the deal in the first meeting itself. I was delighted when he offered us our first cheque.
Q. Brief about some of the large group of customers and where they are spread geographically?
Our major customers are retailers and they are spread across India. Interestingly, except for metro cities, most of the customers come from tier-2 cities.
Over 15% of our customers are from Middle-East and South Africa. We also have a small user base in Singapore.
Q. What other software products do you use to increase productivity?
Being a tech enthusiast, I use lot of software. I particularly love Trello, OneNote and WeekPlan. Without these 3 apps, I can’t imagine my day.
When I’m working on something, I close email app and disable notifications on my mobile. That always helps me to concentrate better.
Q. Tell us about some immediate plans that you are currently working upon? What are your future plans to uphold your product?
We are working on a separate product designed especially for Chartered Accountants. Using this new product, CAs and Bookkeepers will be able to manage their client workflow more efficiently.
There will be a centralized dashboard and time-saving features like automated tax filing.
Q. Who all are there in top management of your team? What was the source of motivation for starting up an organisation?
We are 3 co-founders. I worked with MNCs like HSBC & Barclays for over 9yrs before starting this venture. Our 2nd co-founder, Mohnish is a Chartered Accountant and has over 9yrs of experience. Then we have Naveen as our 3rd co-founder who has over 14yrs of product management experience.
Q. Any milestone or achievements in the journey till today that you are proud of or that makes you happy?
I was very happy when a popular US Magazine PCMag covered us in one of their articles. We have been winning different competitions every year since the launch. For example, we were regional finalists in Microsoft TechSparks in 2013, we won ‘Hot100 Startup’ award in 2014 and last year, in 2015, we were named in top 3 FinTech companies in India by Village Capital Fund.
These awards and recognition have strengthened our belief in what we are doing.
Q. As an insider in this domain, what insights would you like to share about new trends in the enterprise IT space?
Growth of internet penetration in India has been phenomenal during last 2 years. Similarly, affordable smartphones & 4G are changing the way we buy things. Traditional software like MS Office and Photoshop are also slowly transitioning in the web applications. Government is also opening up GST APIs so that any application can interact with it.
This trend clearly signifies that the future is in the cloud. I won’t be surprised if we don’t see any installable software in next 5 yrs.