Interview with Mr. Yashwanth Madhusudan, Co-Founder & CEO at Fyle Inc

SoftwareSuggest

SoftwareSuggest

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 18, 2021

Managing an organization’s finances is key to its success. Knowledge of the expenditures of a business and where they are being spent helps businesses keep track of the cash outflow, which reduces wastage and ensures proper utilization of finances. 

Organizations, especially with mobile sales teams, seek a proper financial management system to monitor their expenses and have a system of approval. However, most of them lack the flexibility and finesse required to track and monitor all business expenses and segregate them for proper analysis. Only a few of them provide users the option to track all major and minor expenditures, helping greatly in ledgering, reporting, and tax filing. ‘Fyle’ is one application that has gained widespread popularity due to its flexibility, integrations, and attention to detail. It offers employees several easy and secure ways to register and log expenses.

In conversation with Mr. Yashwanth Madhusudan, Co-Founder & CEO of Fyle Inc:

We are fortunate to have interviewed Mr. Yashwanth M, the founder of Fyle Inc., on his and his company’s journey so far and the road ahead.

Below is an excerpt from the interview:

Heartiest welcome from the SoftwareSuggest team. Our readers want to know about you & how did Fyle Inc. start?

Ans: I have been a sales professional for over 15 years. All these years, I felt that expense management was a consistent source of frustration. Fyle was started with the intent to overcome this particular issue or, to say, a personal frustration. There were a lot of times when I chose not to go file a claim just because of the sheer pain involved in submitting my claims to the company. 

Sure, there were tons of apps on the market (which I did try), but there was one thing common to all – they all expected me to be disciplined. If I was disciplined enough, I felt there was no need for a tool. My expectation was to use something that took not more than a second to use, similar to liking a friend’s Facebook post or pinning an image onto my Pinterest board. My reality was, setting aside a Sunday afternoon going through a mountain of invoices to get my money back. This was frustrating, and I felt like I was transported back in time.

When we spoke to CFOs and Finance professionals, we realized that it was more frustrating for them to follow up with employees constantly. This process ended up consuming a disproportionate amount of their time. 

This was interesting to us as expense management was not a core job for neither the sales rep nor the finance/accounting personal. Yet, all stakeholders spent a lot of time on expense reporting/management – leading to a bad experience for end-users and manual work for finance and accounting professionals.

Siva (my co-founder) and I started Fyle to build a new standard that fits this generation’s workforce, a standard that does not require any human discipline.

What prompted your foray into Expense management and tracking software?

Ans: Apart from addressing personal frustration, we had the following insights when we studied the expense management category:

  1. There were many generation 1 products – products created 2-3 decades ago and had started up during the first technology wave, i.e., personal computing wave. Products that were built in this era set the standard experience and were largely desktop-only software.
  2. The next shift happened when the iPhone changed the mobile computing world forever. Desktop software paved the way for mobile-led software, and very soon, mobile apps became the standard of user experience and ease of use. In both cases, applications only help people manage the process.
  3. The last change happened over a decade ago. Since then, a lot has changed around us. The way we spend, travel, communicate, consume content – has all changed yet, when we travel for business, we have to set aside time and spend a few hours to submit our expense report.

We believe that this generation of software will be defined by using data in a context-aware manner to go beyond just managing a process. We will see an era where applications will become more intelligent and will truly automate business processes and increase delight and efficiency, in that order.

We believe that Fyle is the standard for this generation to make expense management free of frustration and manual work.

What separates Fyle from its competitors?

Ans: We look at this problem as a data problem – not as a workflow problem. We believe that only when we eliminate the need for users to be disciplined is when this process has any hope of being solved. To achieve this, we needed to understand where people store the proof for their spendings. 

In the last decade or so, email has become the most critical place for storing receipts. Fyle is the only application that sits on top of existing applications like GSuite, Office 365, Slack, and other applications that people use in the form of a button. With this approach, users just have to click the Fyle button whenever they receive a receipt in their inbox.

Once the user clicks the Fyle button, data is automatically extracted in real-time, and all-important and relevant information is captured and processed in real-time. Processing in this context means the data gets checked against company policies, checked for duplicates or fraudulent claims, and the user gets notified instantly, in the form of a popup inside their email – this helps reduce the amount of time spent back and forth by over 80%.

Lastly, this data is also automatically matched with the company’s corporate card transactions without any human effort. The company gets a comprehensive dashboard of spend information, with the ability to dive deep into category/department/project and other parameters that are important for the business.

Fyle has created the first industry-standard user experience that turns a boring, frustrating job into a delightful single click experience that is responsible for delivering great compliance, control, and visibility to the company.

What are the 3 lessons that you need to remember to make it big in this industry?

Ans: Always be obsessed about the problem – the product does not matter.

People may be aware of some problems, but most companies that succeed invented things that people did not express the need for. They just adapted to better ways of doing it once somebody showed it was possible.

Disrupt yourselves faster than any of your competitors can.

How has expense management software evolved over the years?

Ans: First-generation products – these products transformed a paper-based process into a computer-driven one and mostly based on spreadsheets solution. These applications rode multiple technology waves like the personal computing wave, client-server era, internet, and finally, cloud.

Second-generation products transformed desktop applications into mobile-led applications and made it easier for users to perform their tasks on the go. Nothing else changed.

Third gen – This is evolving as applications are getting more intelligent with the use of data and machine learning on that vast amount of data, and we will see new ways of solving this problem without any human effort in the future.

What new and exciting updates can we expect from Fyle in the near future?

Ans: We will be launching our Fyle Platform where it would become any card issuer to bundle Fyle along with their card in a white-labeled manner and offer their customers a full-stack software out of the box in a secure, scalable, and self-service manner

What major changes did Fyle as a team and business went through in the new normal? Can you share some interesting numbers/ statistics?

Ans: As a company, we went fully remote and adjusted to the new normal. We pivoted to focus on specific industries where we saw a lot of demand from. We also noticed that, while overall spending had reduced, it had become more critical for companies to implement software that was easy to use for the active user base ( employees who submitted reports ) increased by over 60-70%. As companies were going remote, they were offering newer forms of reimbursement for the entire company to make the transition to WFH easier.

What motivates you to innovate and keep up with your competition?

Ans: We innovate to solve customers’ problems, we are not thinking about the competition here. Also, in terms of innovation – I think competition has to do a fair amount of catch up with us.

How have Machine Learning, Automation, and AI changed the game in expense management and tracking?

Ans: We are in the early days of how AI and machine learning can make an impact; we use machine learning to ensure companies stay compliant without human effort. Machine learning is used to detect anomalies, fraud and identifying risk at a company level.

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