Intuit Circles, a strategic startup ecosystem engagement initiative by Intuit, facilitates business growth and knowledge for startups through smart-tech. The programme aims at powering prosperity for startups by providing for some of their biggest needs, with the aim to improve the possibility of startup success. Startups are given access to a personal ecosystem of mentors, a thriving community of peers, investors and partners like co-working spaces, incubators and accountants.
Intuit Circles is helping startups leverage its technology and financial expertise by providing access to Intuit’s flagship financial management software for small businesses - QuickBooks Online. Tech startups can also partner with Intuit to collaboratively develop solutions for the 4.5 million global customers of QuickBooks Online by integrating their product on its platform.
Seamlessly managing financial processes with QuickBooks integration
From more than 2,000 startups who have signed up for the Intuit Circles this year, we bring to you the stories of two startups who have leveraged the QuickBooks Online integration, and managed to achieve scale.
Founded in February 2017 by Devendra Khandegar, Kredily is an all-in-one HR and payroll software. It helps SMEs, startups and mid-sized organisations automate attendance management, leave tracking, payroll processing, pay-out and expense management.
Prior to starting up, Devendra worked as a venture capitalist in Gujarat Venture Finance Limited (GVFL) and subsequently headed Tracxn Labs, during which time, he worked closely with entrepreneurs and observed that a lot of time was consumed in managing mundane HR tasks. He realised that while numerous HR platforms existed, they were expensive and non-intuitive. On the other hand, employees struggled to access financial products, ranging from salary advances to short-term loans and insurance benefits. That’s when Devendra saw the need to build an HR tech platform that was free and easy to use and started Kredily. The startup’s flagship platform, Kredily Bazaar, is India's first and fully-integrated HR platform for employee benefits and financial management. The startup also boasts of a 100 percent do-it-yourself system for payroll, leave, attendance and expense management.
Devendra says that financial management is extremely critical for a startup. “A founder always needs to be on top of payables and cash available, not just at the end of the month, but in real time.” Observing the many benefits startups were deriving from the Intuit Circles programme, Kredily decided to get onboard.
Soon after, Kredily integrated QuickBooks Online on to their platform, solving a major pain point for their clients. Devendra explains, “Any organisation that processes payroll, needs to sync up with Kredily’s accounts. This means, consolidating all the pay-out from payroll across the organisation and posting a 'journal voucher'. But now, with the integration, the clients can now post their journal voucher to their QuickBooks accounts in a single click.
Currently, they have 18,000 companies registered on their platform. According to the founder, this is an unprecedented feature and simplifies the entire workflow for payroll and post-payroll accounts sync.
“QuickBooks is a boon for a founder, especially one who suffers from scarcity of time. It helps you stay in sync with all kinds of financial payments, in real-time,” says Devendra.
He adds that Intuit Circles is a great platform to connect with like-minded founders and further explore business synergies. Startups have the opportunity to meet Intuit’s global leadership team as a sounding board for their ideas and to get mentorship. “Entrepreneurs sometimes get caught up in their own thought processes. An environment like Intuit Circles helps you gain a broader perspective. Conversations, exposure and interaction with other members helps validate one’s business direction,” says Devendra.
Arka Inventory is a user-friendly cloud-based business application which helps in digitising, organising and automating procurement, warehousing, production, sales, fulfilment and accounting operations in new-age manufacturing and trading businesses. The company was founded in 2018 by Shreevathsa GP, Vinod KR, Praveen Nune and Kanti Hegde.
Shreevathsa is a Chartered Accountant who has worked with several SMBs, and used to provide value-added services to businesses through business analytics reporting. The biggest challenge he faced was non-availability of required information from the businesses. Also, large enterprises used ERP solutions to run their businesses efficiently, which were not suitable for SMBs as they were too complex, expensive and required training to manage. Due to this, most SMBs ran their business on spreadsheets, unconnected systems or on paper. Non-streamlined operations took a toll on their efficiency and they struggled to scale their businesses. Witnessing this problem in SMBs across industries, the team decided to start Arka Inventory.
“Arka is bringing in the most advanced technologies and making it available to small and medium businesses of India at an affordable price,” says Shreevathsa.
Initially, it was a challenge to reach out to the market to create awareness about their product. Also, with the limited financial resources they had, they had to ensure that their financial resources were spent to gain maximum effectiveness for its intended purpose.
That’s when they came across Intuit Circles. And, there has been no turning back since they registered for the programme. The programme is helping them reach out to more potential users by connecting them with the QuickBooks team. Intuit Circles is also helping them connect with the startup ecosystem to create synergies with peer startups.
Additionally, the integration with QuickBooks Online has benefitted Arka Inventory in several ways. “When we talk about operations in SMBs, along with procurement and production, finance is one of the most important functions. QuickBooks Online is a wonderful tool available for SMBs around the world to efficiently organise their finance, accounting and tax processes,” says Shreevathsa.
He adds that the association with Intuit Circle has nurtured their business and increased their visibility in the market.
Behind the scenes with the Intuit Circles’ tech integration team
Although startups are a very important piece in the Intuit Circles’ puzzle, there’s a team working behind the scenes to not just provide all the support the startup needs but also ensure that the integration is executed smoothly. Meet Sudipto Ghosh, Development Manager; Rajesh Gupta, Solutions Architect; Cynthia Srinivas, Director - Product Infrastructure; and Karthik M U, and Senior Software Engineer, people who are part of Intuit Circles’ Technology team.
According to the team, one of the primary reasons that determine the failure or success of the businesses within the first few years depends on how well they manage their finances. That’s why the team constantly reaches out to incubators, accelerators, government bodies, venture capitalists and co-working spaces to identify startups that have expressed interest or those that have applications that complement their platform capabilities for finance management. But, that’s not all. Today, the team in addition to helping startups manage their finances, they are helping the startups scale their business with a technology-backed approach.
Reasoning why the team expanded the support beyond financial management was a study that the team undertook a year prior to the launch. The team adopted Follow-Me-Home (FMH), a unique methodology to observe and engage with business owners to understand their critical pain points. During this time, the team observed two recurring challenges - growth (access to customers and scaling) and the capability to compete in a technology-driven market.
Today, the integration track addresses these two challenges. Startups can engage with engineering teams and developers at Intuit to brainstorm on technical feasibility, explore integration opportunities and fast track their development efforts. Startups can also utilise the integration channel and test out early-adoption from a relatively large set of customers in QuickBooks.
“The partnership with Intuit Circles provides startups a unique opportunity to speed up the entire development, deployment and reach,” says Sudipto.
While several startups have scaled through the programme, there are a few who have experienced measurable benefits through the integration, one of them being Fyle. They leveraged the single-click integration so that their customers would automatically be able to connect to their QuickBooks Online (QBO) account. This move enabled the startup to gain customers globally and expand their footprint to the US, Netherlands and Singapore, all in less than a year.
The team is inspired by the different startups they work with. “The energy and vibe of the whole startup ecosystem is infectious. You take so much learning and enthusiasm back to work. To witness the obsession for solving unique customers’ pain points, daring to dream big and being bold has been the revelation,” says Sudipto.
These engineers are passionate about the startup community and Intuit Circles provides them the right opportunity to fuel their passion.
“The amazing discussions that we keep having with the community on strategy, customer problems, business issues, technology challenges, learning from failures, experimenting, listening to stories around funding and scaling keeps us going,” he concludes.