Firmzen; Helping Small and Medium Accountancy Firms Run Like the Big Four
Office administration and practice management is something that nobody likes to do and yet, this is one of the most essential operations in an organization. While in big corporations there are dedicated resources who carry out these tasks, practice management and office administration is usually entrusted on the entrepreneur in a startup. This just adds extra work load on an already stretched entrepreneur.
There are software tools in the market that address this concern and Firmzen, an office automation and practice management tool, aims to provide some respite to the Chartered Accountant community. Here, we chat with Firmzen co-founder Sameet Singh, who is at the helm of a tech product startup for the second time.
Understanding the Chartered Accountants Problem
Sameet Singh, Amith George, Noel Sequeira are computer science engineers from the University of Mumbai. The team previously founded and ran IT energy management / monitoring startup Enpower for 3 years. "While working on our previous venture, we were approached by a Chartered Accountant who asked us to help develop a custom practice management solution. Since we did not take up bespoke software development at the time (we still don’t), we instead played a pro bono consulting role and tried to integrate a few web-based SaaS task tracking / calendar-based tools to help address his firm’s needs. As we spent more time communicating with his team and understanding their requirements, a very specific set of those stood out and it became apparent to us that it would be impossible to meet their needs using generic project management / team collaboration apps."
"We decided we’d work on Firmzen only if it figured among their top 5 problems. The concept resonated with them - many of them had already cobbled
together duct-tape, in-house solutions with excel sheets and daily (manual) status-of-work emails. But these attempts couldn't scale, and they found it frustrating. Some of the larger firms had even invested in custom, in-house software solutions. Having identified practice management as a problem that they were willing to pay to have solved, we focused on distilling the solution down to a minimum, critical feature set that would make an impact on a CA’s day to day work life," says Sameet.Firmzen in its current avatar is – 1) a daily planner that’s auto-generated from your compliance calendar 2) SMS and email reminders to customers 3) bills that get auto-generated on completion of work.
Not Too Large, Not Too Small - Targeting the Emerging Segment
Firmzen is a web based software and CA's can buy a monthly subscription to use it. With close to 50,000 registered CA practices, a similar number of tax consultant / cost accountant / CS practices, firmzen is in a moderately sized industry. But Sameet adds that being on a SaaS platform makes it geography agnostic. "That said, we will initially focus on India - we have great access to the market, and a decent fraction of the market is fairly evolved. We’re targeting mid-sized , growing firms that need to IT-enable themselves to keep growing - small practices with up to 3 employees don’t really require a workflow / practice management solution, whereas some of the larger firms have already invested time and money to develop custom software," adds Sameet.
Firmzen soft-launched a couple of months back. They are currently in private beta with about 20 CAs in Mumbai and Delhi actively using Firmzen. Sameet and team are currently using a combination of direct sales with word of mouth / referrals. "There are several well established marketing and sales channels that we have excellent access to, to reach almost every Chartered Accountant in the county. We intend to tap into these soon."
Thanks to the ubiquitousness of Tally, the advent of online filing and the presence of massively popular online forums such as CAClubIndia, the industry has become really technology savvy. We think that there’s going to be a wave of SaaS solutions that empower the SMB market in India, and believe that Firmzen will be one of them.
Sameet is definitely right here and we have seen an massive upsurge in the number of SaaS based products in the recent past. It will be interesting to see how Firmzen fares in comparison with others in this field and how it is adopted globally.
Firmzen is a part of the Morpheus Batch 8.