1) What was the specific need in business that prompted you to develop AlignBook?
Back in 2016, we realized that there was a lack of a modern business solution for SMEs. A business solution that could do more than accounting, independent of the system, could be accessed from anywhere and anytime and met all the requirements of the new GST that was about to be launched in July 2017. That laid the foundation of the idea. With all the experience of the founding team to support, AlignBooks has evolved that could help simplify SMEs ’ business and help them scale to growth.
SMEs have largely been a community that remains the focus of one and all but hasn’t been able to get their core issues addressed. Lack of tools to manage working capital, getting it financed without much of fuss viz. collaterals, etc., the ever-increasing onus on compliances viz. GST / TDS etc. and the digital storm – all have been the core issues that SMEs haven’t been able to resolve despite their best.
SMEs, largely the unorganized segment, haven’t had the privilege of enablers & supporters which could assist them in a manner that they focus on their core strength, i.e. the business. We well realized the need for SMEs to adopt digital-first, automated business solutions at a minimal cost for more seamless cash flow management and overall optimized operations.
It is on this backdrop, AlignBooks was conceptualized, evolved, and presented to this segment. The company evolved a new age software solution that could do more than accounting, independent of the system, could be accessed from anywhere and anytime and at an affordable cost. The platform that can further help MSMEs simplify their e-invoicing, GST, and TDS compliance requirements in an automated and digital-first manner. The platform so evolved, backed by the most modern technology, is also integrated with e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Shopify for seamless operations and enables the finalization of audit-ready accounts.
2) How has the market reacted to the launch of AlignBook?
It hadn’t been quite a smooth entry. With SMEs remaining quite used to the old age offline solutions, the initial response was quite lukewarm as cloud-computed accounting was not quite a talked about subject for & by SMEs. The Co had well envisaged this initial hiccup and had accordingly prepared to bestow time and effort in educating the target group (SMEs), highlighting the importance, significance & ease of use of an on-line software vs an off-line only software.
It didn’t take much, though, for AlignBooks to gain acceptability on ground. And mind it, all this awareness, knowledge and confidence building, etc. were all provided on virtual basis. It’s the sheer robustness, ease of use & the encompassing spectrum of accounting that the product presented to the SMEs, enquiries started pouring in from all across India & a couple of territories overseas.
The product is well established in the market, now. The tech stack used for the product enables AlignBooks to come up with required changes as per statute from time to time viz. e-way bill, e-invoicing etc. dynamically and with very minimal time to market. Thus, places AlignBooks far above the competition.
3) How do you think it has changed accounting in the Indian MSMEs that have adopted it?
We have seen a significant change in the field of accounting solutions. Some businesses are the early adopters of it and some have adopted basis seeing the changes across sectors. The usage of such solutions not only reduces the manual accounting burden but also reduces maximum labor intervention. MSMEs have been going through a lot of pain in this pandemic like cash crunch, stock managements, handling compliances, etc. due to which they suffer a marginal loss per quarter. Realistically thinking, that marginal difference in a quarter creates a major difference annually, due to which the financial year-ender notifies a huge fallback in business. But since the beginning of COVID-19, the sector understood that the operation of business manually would create a drawback in sales. Thus digital thrust to the small business acts as a savior for SMEs to continue their businesses amidst lockdown and social distancing norm.
4) What kind of evolution do you think AlignBook will evolve into?
Backed by a sound tech platform, not only the software provides an all-in-one solution to the accounting needs of all business segments viz. Manufacturing, Trade, Distribution & Services, the open API capability throws open a plethora of opportunities to provide a single-window solution to SMEs.
AlignBooks is already integrated with leading fintech players viz. RazorPay, PayTM to facilitate efficient management of Receivables & Payables. The Co also takes pride in having forged an alliance with ICICI bank for their Connected Banking offering. AlignBooks customers having banking relationships with the bank can transact directly through its platform without the need to access the bank’s site. The connected banking feature also offers the capability to reconcile accounts, seamlessly.
AlignBooks has since integrated with Amazon & Shopify as well, making it hugely facilitative for E-commerce players to leverage upon these mega-platforms. All of their Invoices are auto-downloaded, reconciled & accounted for, seamlessly. Alignbooks has been a boon for this emerging segment of the business.
Alignbooks is in active dialogue with some of the active lending platforms to forge an alliance facilitating unsecured lending to its customers and with ease.
The theme is to let the SMEs focus on their business & logistics and the rest is enabled by AlignBooks with ease and that too at an affordable fee.
5) How is it different from its market competitors, what is its edge?
Alignbooks aims to be more than merely accounting software and provide added features that can aid SMEs to shift their finance and business operations digitally. Some unique features like online and offline operations, reports and view customization-Invoice to customers, easy data upload templates, etc., make it more flexible to implement in any kind of business. The accounting solution is available at an economical rate starting at Rs. 2500 only, annually. AlignBooks’ customers can select items based on groups and invoice generation with just a click to simplify the invoicing process.
6) What kind of change you want to make with AlignBooks in the accounting business?
The basic agenda is to help the businesses run better and improve operation management, efficiency, and productivity. That’s been our purpose from day one. So, when the customers have the next big idea to automate any of their operations, transform an industry – we deliver the right technology to help execute the same.
7) What do you think has been the biggest hurdle in the success of AlignBooks and how did you cross it?
Since our core audience is SMEs from tier areas to bridge the gap between traditional operations and digitally equipped practices, our biggest hurdle has been a language barrier. The team often gets enquiries from tier cities but due to the inability to communicate with their native language, they face issues onboarding and helping them with a digital solution. An organization is building a team that can interact and handles SMEs from isolated areas who are in need to streamline their business operations and shift them online.
8) How has the feedback from users been?
Largely, feedback from users is the ease of using software and aligning their accounts in merely a few clicks. SMEs usually are not well-versed with the accounts and financing, hence, bringing all details on one dashboard has been helping them to understand their cash flows, customer outstanding, etc. We have been told by our users that deploying Alignbooks has helped them maximize their efficiency and allowing them to focus on their core business. They refer Alignbooks as software that has features to simplify all business and compliance requirements.
9) What is your vision for AlignBooks? Along which lines would you want the company to grow?
Currently, all our efforts are aligned towards business and reach expansion and we are also looking for funding for the same. We have recently started a partner sales channel to expand our presence pan India, more particularly at T2 and T3 cities /towns. The vision is to provide 360º automated solutions to SMEs, enabling them to focus on their core business and decision making than worrying about their back office. The fintech platform aims to build a partner base of about 500 across India and a customer base of 100k SMEs by the end of 2022.
Since our launch, more than 30k registrations have taken place on the platform and more than 15 Lacs invoices have been generated through AlignBooks.