“India is a powerhouse of innovation, the startup ecosystem is especially strong and it continues to grow, even throughout the pandemic. Bangalore, in particular, is one of the world’s fastest-growing startup cities with an investment growth of over 25 times just in the last decade,” – Marianna Tessel, CTO, Intuit.
In the past few months, Indian SMBs have had to adopt and leverage technology to survive as well as scale, even as consumer spending and revenues took a hit. The efforts of tech giants, corporates, as well as programmes such as Intuit Circles are helping SMBs revive themselves through digital transformation.
With over 2.5K startups under its roof, the Intuit Circles Community has been able to drive initiatives such as its recent Intuit Circles Codeathon, which looked to create a platform for SaaS startups and developers to solve key pain points faced by small businesses. The community is backed by the enterprise tech giant’s network of partners.
“At Intuit, our strategy is to be an AI-driven expert platform and it is a combination of people and technology. It is all about being open, trusted and easy-to-build-on platform which puts us in a unique position to provide talented thinkers, builders and innovators like these start-ups to get creative and solve the most pressing customer problems!,” added Tessel.
Commencing on October 10, 2020, the aim of the Codeathon was to recognise innovative startups with impactful solutions for small businesses. Seven startups and two student-led startups presented innovative solutions — integrated with QuickBooks — around the problem statements faced by SMBs in India today such as seeking advice from mentors and managing operations and more.
On December 8, after weeks of qualifying rounds, four startups — Fractal Ledgers, MoneyOrder, Directly.live and The Miners — were chosen as winners of the programme by the jury. The four startups won gift cards as well as Intuit Circles partner credits among other rewards. For the final round, the jury consisted of Sairee Chahal, CEO & founder of SHEROES, Vikalp Sahni, cofounder & Ex-CTO at Goibibo and Daya Prakash, founder of Talentonlease and others. From the Intuit team, these members were joined by the managing director, Sanket Atal; a distinguished engineer Manish Shah; director of engineering, Nidhi Gopal; and director of product management, Sundar Balasubramanian.
Rajesh Gupta, solutions architect at Intuit Developer Group and one of the mentors at the Codeathon, said, “It was really inspiring to see highly motivated and passionate participants develop creative solutions to solve specific customers problems through their integration with Quickbooks. The market research and the effort these startups made to validate their ideas with customers in mind was amazing.”
Below is a brief introduction to each of the winners:
Winner | Fractal Ledgers
- Theme: Be compliant and organised
- Team Members: Chidroop, Mahit Agarwal, Shubham Singh Parihar, Lucky Singh and Pushpraj Singh
Founded by childhood friends, Chidroop and Mahit Agarwal, Fractal Ledgers started as an accounting firm for small enterprises.
“We saw that the leadership team had to get involved in day to day accounting tasks because there was no software to help them in that manner. The second big challenge we saw was that of capital. Even though these enterprises were making good sales and revenue, when it came to the realisation of money from the customers, a lot of them had bad debts,” said Agarwal.
The startup’s product is integrated with the Quickbooks API to counter most accounting challenges for small companies. The software provides SMBs with insights regarding their sales, expenses, audit, reporting and more.
First Runner-Up | MoneyOrder
- Theme: Get paid
- Team Members: Saurav Raaj and Smriti Chaudhry
Fuelled by the fundamental belief that access to technology and business processes always creates opportunity, MoneyOrder was incorporated in 2018. The startup was born out of the realisation that while SMBs generate a lot of value for the country, they may not be getting access to a lot of benefits which are available to enterprises.
“In any business, we follow a lot of SOPs, procedures and documentations, however, MSMEs in India do not have the bandwidth or the knowledge to do all this themselves. We are trying to bridge that gap, by using our knowledge, learning and experience, using technology. We developed a solution that can make this easier for them and believe that when businesses have access to this, they can do their jobs faster than they could before,” said cofounder Saurav Raaj.
The startup is enabling SMBs to send invoices via multiple channels, accept payments digitally and invoice-based access to capital.
Second Runner-Up | Directly.Live
- Theme: Access advice
- Team Members: Mayank Dubey, Harshit Soni, Aneeta Singh, Vibhu Tiwari and Avdesh Singh
A tech platform that is helping experts share their knowledge with those who require it, easily and quickly, Directly.Live was launched in November 2020. And within just two months, it claims to have acquired more than 200 users and witnessed a booking of over 600 calls.
“Through our platform, an expert can set up his/her personalised page in just a matter of two or three mins. Our aim is to make sharing of expertise seamless and easy across sectors, all one has to do is book a session and we take care of everything else,” said Dubey.
The startup manages the calendar of the experts, connecting the experts with the client through video calls, payments and feedback. Integrated with Intuit Quickbooks, Dubey credits the networking and support provided by Intuit Circles for the quick launch and success of the startup.
Special Recognition | The Miners
- Theme: Access advice
- Team Members: Sanjana Reddy, Navya Priya N and Nishchal Jagadeesh
The only student-led startup to win, The Miners was born thanks to the Intuit Circles Codeathon. All three members of the team are engineers-in-the-making at RV College of Engineering in Bengaluru. Considering their experience of participating in various hackathons before, they knew that it would help them gain first-hand experience, meet many professionals and work on innovative solutions to the problems that plague the sector.
Having faced the issue of not having access to the right mentors while building products in the past, this team worked on the problem statement, ‘Access Advice’.
“Though you can get access to mentors online, what we found was that a user has to manually search for the right mentor, so we added many features such as a recommendation system. A user can give a small description of their business and based on that description, would get a set of recommendations of the mentors they can get guidance from,” said Reddy.
The startup uses natural language processing and comes integrated with Intuit Quickbooks and WhatsApp, along with many other features such as training videos, guides, podcasts and more. The main idea behind the solution is to enable early-stage startups and student entrepreneurs to get easy access to mentors for idea validation, funding, acquiring customers and more.
“It was awesome to see several amazing innovations from startups & students alike. Teams used design thinking and went after big SMB pain points like getting paid, compliance & remote advice. We are keen to continue partnering with the startups to architect and scale their solutions globally.” said Aditya Dixit, Group Product Manager, Intuit