Mumbai-based startup aims to be a ‘BIG 4’ service provider for emerging businesses and expand to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
When Jitesh met Garima, a one-stop solution for startups’ accounting, taxation and legal needs was born.
Jitesh Agarwal and Garima Mitra, both 27 years old, were keen to provide legal and financial consulting services. But during the journey of starting up, they found a new niche. One where most startups and SMEs would approach them during their own journeys.
Treelife Consulting is a multi-disciplinary business consulting firm for startups and SMEs. It primarily helps clients with tailor-made solutions in legal and financial areas.
Jitesh says they saw “a huge gap in the market”. “Traditional support services did things theoretically while new-age entrepreneurs wanted to be well aware of their surroundings and experiment with new business ideas.”
The idea was simple: to offer quality services to new entrepreneurs and support them in their growth story.
Jitesh, a chartered accountant by qualification, and Garima, a practising lawyer, knew each other since their college days. After passing out, they took up corporate roles and even though they were happy, they were looking for change.
“It was just a matter of time before I decided to quit my job to try studying further. However, then the Treelife idea struck. Garima was similarly aligned; she thought it had potential and soon quit her job,” Jitesh says.
Overcoming the challenges
Jitesh says, “When we started we were seen as young people trying to provide services that required years of experience. However, the segment of startups and SMEs that we are catering to requires executable customised solutions that traditional practices are not able to offer.”
The other challenges Treelife faced were nascent and peculiar to growing businesses, but overcoming them was easy with the founders’ pragmatic approach.
“Our practical solutions have turned out to be our USP now,” Jitesh says.
Sharing a quick hack he uses while giving a solution, he says, “While choosing a company entity, in a generic scenario, we believe a private limited company structure is more suited for a product-based business while a Limited Liability Partnership is suitable for service-based business due to the capabilities of in-warding investment and compliances.”
The founder believes it is these small and big hacks that help them make a difference.
In the near future, Treelife Consulting aims to be a one-point support system for all legal and financial needs.
“In a nutshell, we want to be the like the ‘Big 4’ service providers for emerging businesses,” Jitesh says.
With a team size of eight people, Treelife Consulting aims to grow with time.
What sets them apart and has worked for them in their journey?
Jitesh says, “Our understanding of clients’ problems and giving a practical, speedy and cost-effective solution. We strongly believe in the ideology – everything is possible. Solutions should be more business oriented than anything else.”
The Treelife Revenue Model
TreeLife Consulting has a two-fold revenue model. For growth stage clients, they work with project-based revenue; clients pay them based on deliverables.
For relatively bigger/mature clients, they charge a monthly retainer based on services.
Being a service provider, the retainer revenue helps them cover fixed costs; the project revenue is their profit.
Treelife is growing at 50 percent on y-o-y basis in their revenues and claims to be profitable since inception.
In terms of clients, they closed at 100 clients in the last financial year and are on track to increase this figure by 30 percent in the current year.
Jitesh says, “Our target customers are only B2B. We have limited clients, but can work with them on all fronts.”
Currently bootstrapped, Treelife may look to raise capital/debt in the next two years for scaling and expanding purposes.
The market landscape
In recent years, the demand for specialist consulting services has risen in India. This has opened the doors to a large number of consultants who can help businesses with expert knowledge base and resources.
Due to the constantly increasing demand, the industry is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 30 percent to become a Rs 27,000 crore industry by 2020, as per Assocham reports.
Treelife Consulting plans to ride that growth curve and expand in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
Jitesh says, “We have seen that entrepreneurs in these cities have incredible potential. However, they face challenges with respect to access to resources and mentoring to help them facilitate decision-making. We aspire to create a platform/partnership that will help us facilitate startup learning sessions for budding entrepreneurs in these towns.”
Treelife is also working on a financial literacy programme with Skillsphere for children age 12-18 years.
“Everyone talks about fintech companies in India but we feel there is still a long way before people can leverage it. Inculcating a basic financial understanding at an early age will help create a generation that is commercially and financially sound,” Jitesh says.