Expert Interview with Harshal Katre – CEO of ProfitBooks


Kashyap Trivedi

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: September 5, 2019

ProfitBooks headquartered in Pune, is an accounting and payroll management application. ProfitBooks is a GST enabled software so it is a preferred accounting software for Indian SMBs and startups. Apart from accounting, it also offers bookkeeping solutions.

1. What according to you are the major pillars on which ProfitBooks stands upon?

We wanted to simplify financial accounting. At ProfitBooks we believe that simplicity is not about chopping off features, It’s about bringing order to the complex things. So, lot of thought goes into designing every single screen of ProfitBooks.

We constantly ask ourselves – how can we reduce the number of clicks to perform this particular operation? We constantly strive to build a flow which will help our customers to record transactions in simplest and fastest manner.

Our single minded focus on simplicity has made us the most popular accounting software in India. Currently, ProfitBooks website is visited by over 8 to 10 lakh people every month.

Apart from this, we invest a lot in friendly customer support. This is why customer engagement ratio is very high at ProfitBooks.

2. How did you hit upon the idea for your Company?

We started ProfitBooks to make financial accounting super easy for business owners. Traditional software were designed keeping accountants in mind and were complicated. We wanted to change that. With ProfitBooks, we got rid of accounting jargons and built a simple interface that anyone could understand. This instantly resonated with our customers.

3. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

We’ve seen many competitors come and go.

Our biggest competitor is not Tally. It’s not Quickbooks. It’s pen and paper. In India, millions of SMEs still rely on pen and paper to record their financial transactions. They depend on their accountants for tax compliance.

With our simple interface, we want to bring these SMEs into the ecosystem. Apart from accounting features, we’ve added capabilities that can help SMEs to grow their business. For example, we’ve integrated payment gateways in ProfitBooks. So, our customers can start accepting payments using credit card, net banking and even wallets. This way, their account receivable cycle reduces dramatically and this results in better cash flow.

Now, we are adding 1-Click return filing for GST. This is something that none of our competitors can offer. Imagine the time it will save for both business owners and their accountants.

We want business owners to focus on their business and leave their compliance burden on us. At ProfitBooks, CAs are part of our customer support. So, we not only help customers with technical issues but also answer their accounting related questions.

In coming months, we are going to add business intelligence features which will help business owners to take well informed decisions.

To cut the long story short, our competitors have accounting software that can record transactions. ProfitBooks turns transaction data into meaningful insights.

4. How has sales evolved since you first got into the business? What hasn’t changed?

Sudden increase in internet penetration dramatically improved our sales in past couple of years. Financial accounting has always been at the core of any business. So, the basic requirement hasn’t changed a lot.

Once GST comes into force, it will change the way people do tax compliances but the core will always remain the same.

We always believed that one day everything will be done online. We got resistance to online accounting when we started 5yrs ago. Things have changed now. With GST, government is taking entire tax compliance online and being an early cloud accounting company, ProfitBooks is well positioned to serve this market opportunity.

5. Think of something you’ve done in the past; what would you have done differently?

I think whatever decisions we took in our journey were correct in the context of that situation. We bet on online accounting when everyone was building offline software. We focused on business owners when everyone else was running after accountants.

So, can’t really single out anything which I would have done differently. Fortunately, things went as per the plan.

6. How do you approach a decision where people disagree with you?

If people disagree with me on something, I try to argue with statistics. I support my arguments with data. Any decision which is not supported by data is an assumption. If the other person has more meaningful and logical data to support his argument, I never have problem agreeing with them.

7. What do you expect to see over the next 5 to 10 years in the Industry?

In FinTech industry, automation and bots will take over. People will simply ask questions like ‘how much sales have improved this quarter?’ and then a bot will dig into the financials and quickly return with an answer. Software will become more and more user-friendly.

8. What are your experiences with highs and lows at ProfitBooks?

There are times when you feel very low. Some small failures can trigger the bad emotions and mind just gets blocked. In those situations, it becomes very difficult to concentrate. Earlier I used to run away from these situations but slowly I learnt to deal with them. Interestingly, more you face such instances, more stronger you become emotionally.

Talking about highs, honestly, I think I’m yet to get one!

Lastly, we would be glad to have your valuable suggestion for the new Entrepreneurs coming up in the industry today.

My advice to the new entrepreneurs would be to focus on building a self-sustaining company. Nowadays, funding rounds are glorified and people think that the company is doing well. Everything looks very glamorous from the outside. But a self-sustainable business goes a long way and gives far more satisfaction.

Source : SoftwareSuggest

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