CA ANZ gives smart start-ups a leg up
If you want to streamline and modernise the way your firm works, look to the ideas presented at CA ANZ’s Start-up Pitch Night.
- CA ANZ’s Start-up Pitch Night gave six young entrepreneurs the chance to showcase their innovative accounting and business ideas.
- The start-ups were selected for their high-tech platforms that are set to help shape the future of business.
- The new ways to work more efficiently embrace blockchain, artificial intelligence and digital-first models.
If you want a peek into the future of accounting and the issues and opportunities firms will encounter, you only needed to tap into Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s (CA ANZ) recent Start-up Pitch Night in Mumbai.
Representatives of six early start-up firms competed Shark Tank-style, showcasing their ingenuity and how they might be able to help CAs and their businesses.
The pitch night was compèred by Sunny Sirabas, CA ANZ general manager of strategy, as part of the World Congress of Accountants, where CA ANZ was a Gold Sponsor.
Sirabas explained his team’s goal is to help accounting firms modernise the way they operate and embrace the future of accounting, through CA Catalyst.
The judges included CA ANZ President Kate Boorer FCA and Rachel Grimes FCA, a past president of CA ANZ’s predecessor organisation and past president of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).
Automating document management
James Rose, the Brisbane-based founder of Content Snare, pitched to the audience that if you’re tired of chasing tardy clients for documents and information, he can help.
“Content Share is a streamlined process for collecting information from clients, whether that’s for client onboarding, end-of-year tax or monthly queries,” Rose says.
“We do this by having [an interface with] one thing on screen for them to focus on, one question at a time, where you can provide instructions or pre-empt the questions they are going to ask so you don’t have to go back and forth.
“The big benefit is time saving. We have data from our customers that shows we get around a median of 80% reduction in the amount of time spent chasing client information.”
Surprisingly, accountants weren’t the original target market.
“We didn’t start in the accounting space. We built this product for web designers originally,” Rose says, “but accountants found us and, after 18 months of focusing on the industry, we [are working with] around 200 firms.”
Mayur Zanwar CA is a blockchain professional and the co-founder of TruScholar, which utilises a blockchain platform to issue digital credentials, certificates and badges.
It provides a system that universities and other educational and event organisations can use to issue legitimate, tamper-proof documents employers and others can rely on.
The aim is to eliminate fake credentials and student or employee fraud by having verifiable documents that provide a single source of truth.
TruScholar uses distributed ledger technology, which includes digital wallets for people to store/present their credentials to prospective employers.
Zanwar told the audience TruScholar already has more than 200 early adopters of the system.
Saving time with AI
Clare Leighton is the co-founder and chief operating officer of bluesheets. She explains bluesheets is an AI (artificial intelligence) powered platform that can save time by digitising clients’ financial data, utilising the tools and systems they already use.
“Accountants who are using bluesheets are delivering better, faster services to their clients,” she says.
“They’re saving consistently up to 90% of the time it takes to process all of their clients’ bookkeeping.”
The start-up only launched two years ago and now, with offices in Singapore, Australia and Ukraine, it has more than 10,000 users.
Accounting for carbon
Janet Salem is the founder of FootprintLab, which provides carbon footprint data that can be integrated into financial and accounting data systems to enable sustainability reporting.
“For the past 17 years I’ve worked at the United Nations managing sustainability programs, and I’m currently a PhD candidate on integrating sustainability data into fintech,” she told the pitch night audience.
“We provide the carbon footprint per dollar for any sector, in any country. We cover over 160 countries, we provide hundreds of products, we can customise it to different expenditure classifications and, importantly, we provide an audit trail.
“Our data is already used by the UN and it’s part of the official metadata for sustainable development goals.”
Swati Sinha is a microfinance specialist and the founder of Vitto, a mobile platform for micro borrowers. Vitto aims to digitise the microfinance industry and help people get a loan.
The app is available is 15 local Indian languages, so borrowers can select their preferred language if they are not proficient in English, and it has a voice-assist user interface.
In her pitch, Sinha said the Vitto app is simple to use and involves no typing.
She says the Vitto app could help up to 100 million Indian customers who might otherwise find it hard to get a loan.
Accessing finance on the blockchain
Shubham Jain is the co-founder and CEO of TradeReboot, a blockchain-enabled digital trade platform. It aims to help MSMEs (micro and small-to-medium) importers and exporters that are short on capital get low-cost and collateral-free finance.
Its SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform enables companies to connect directly with financial institutions and insurance agencies across the world.
And the winner is…
Pictured: (Left to right) Mitesh Shah, Partner, Physis Capital; Co-Founder, Inflection Point Ventures (Judge), Kate Boorer FCA, President, Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (Judge), CA. Mayur Zanwar, Co-Founder, TruScholar (Pitch Night Winner), Ninad Karpe, Partner, 100X.VC (Judge), Rachel Grimes AM FCA, CFO, Challenger Ltd (Judge)
Essentially all six start-ups were winners, having the opportunity to showcase their services to thousands of accountants and potential investors.
But, according to members of the pitch night audience who used an app to vote, the winning trophy – and bragging rights – went to Mayur Zanwar CA and TruScholar.