Offline businesses in India are a huge opportunity for startups to tap into and while some of the segments like Doctor Appointment booking is really seeing a lot of traction, there lies a huge opportunity in segments that service the SMEs/consumer segment.
Firmzen is web-based practice management / office automation software for finance and legal professionals – Chartered Accountants, Certified Public Accountants, Company Secretaries, Tax Consultants. Think of Firmzen as a “Basecamp” or “Asana” or “Practo” for a Chartered Accountant firm.
Important to note that Firmzen is NOT an accounting or taxation software – but is a workspace/project management tool totally customized for CA segment.
How did it start?
Started by Sameet Singh, Amith George, Noel Sequeira who are computer science engineers from the University of Mumbai. The team previously founded and ran IT energy management / monitoring startup Enpower (http://enpower.in) 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.
With the previous venture headed towards an exit, we set out to validate whether this problem was more widely applicable. With just the concept and a few paper mockups, we met about 25 CAs to try and understand their problems. 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.
Following a MVP approach, the team identified practice management as a problem that CAs 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. And this, essentially, is Firmzen in its current avatar – 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.
It’s still early days for Firmzen and while the team hasn’t yet decided on pricing front, what’s commendable is that are NOT trying to be the be-all for CA segment (i.e. not building a bloated piece of software), but are targeting a specific pain point which is common across the segment.
If you are a CA, do give Firmzen a spin and tell us whether it really serves as a zen for all your practice management needs.