If you’ve ever taken an accounting course or have run your own business, you know that accounting is a huge pain.  Sadly, it’s a necessary evil for every business.  But Monchilla is looking to make it a a little more tolerable.

The self-funded team of eleven has spent the past 2.5 years building an accounting platform from scratch, including features such as payroll, time tracking, invoicing, electronic payments and bank integration. It’s biggest rival is Intuit’s Quickbooks, not to mention some up-and-coming startups such as Indinero, Xero and WaveAccounting.

In fact, the company formed because the founders struggled with using Quickbooks in their own software startup and weren’t too impressed when they gave other services a try. “We had used Quickbooks, but it made us hate our lives because it is so hard to use,” said Monchilla’s Nanjuan Shi.

We caught up Monchilla’s Shi and Jack Couch for this installment of Startup Spotlight:

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it : “We make accounting easy so business owners can make smarter decisions.”

Inspiration hit us when: “We were four guys writing code and we had a full time bookkeeper just to manage payroll and invoice customers and we still didn’t have a clue how much money we would have in three months.  We looked at everything and nothing worked for us.  Then we talked to all of our friends that owned business and found out some of them already made business killing mistakes because they couldn’t see clearly.  That’s when we knew we could do something that would make a big difference.”

Monchilla’s President, Jack Couch

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Self funded.  This isn’t our first start-up and some of those earlier successes have given us the capital to build Monchilla. We are open to outside funding, we just haven’t needed it yet.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We completely rethought double-entry bookkeeping to make it more intuitive without sacrificing any benefits.  Its all ham and no burger (we promise we are better at accounting than jokes).”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: ” We tackled the hardest problems first.  Instead of worrying about powder blue versus periwinkle we worked hard for 2+ years on building an engine that could handle everything from payroll taxes to depreciation and now that is paying off.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “When we first started we thought we could just build additional features on top of QuickBooks and we spent several months and a lot of money trying to make that work.  Eventually we realized it was like trying to build a house on sand because every version update would break us and the database wasn’t normalized.  We really didn’t want to have to start from scratch, but we should have figured that out sooner.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner:“Bezos because he has a very similar outlook on business and the good that it can accomplish, which is what drives us to push through the difficult stuff.  Helping every small business owner be more successful is the most significant thing we can do to make the world a better place and I think Bezos would agree.  I’m also not sure Bill doesn’t hold a grudge for the time he tripped on my console cable and my laptop slid across my desk and hit him on the way down – I know his security guys are still keeping an eye on me.”

Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos

Our world domination strategy starts when: “When small business owners have more fun running their businesses because of Monchilla.  We have already seen the kind of gratitude and word of mouth recommendations that comes from that and we can’t wait
to see that happen on a larger scale.”

Rivals should fear us because: “We are ready to spend the next 20 years attacking this problem with everything we have.  And we have the only online service that actually does everything a business owner would expect, including payroll and time tracking, built in.”

We are truly unique because: “We love accounting.  Many accountants don’t even love accounting, but for us there is something amazing about the moment when everything is clear and people are empowered to make smart moves.  As business owners we have sailed the same stormy seas as our customers so we have a good grasp of what is helpful and what isn’t.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Finding the right team of fanatics.  Software people that are truly passionate about accounting are few and far between.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: ” First, care about other people.  Then find a problem that is so irritating to you that you are willing to sacrifice to solve it for them.  When we started we could see all the time, money and life wasted because of bad tools and we couldn’t help but do something.  We knew we could fix it and we felt like it would have been wrong to ignore it.  Find something like that and you will enjoy getting out of bed and busting your butt.

Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Seattle area startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out the questions above, send  photos of the founder(s) and company logo to tips@geekwire.com. Past profiles can be found here.

Monchilla Overview from Jack Couch on Vimeo.

Comments

  • Scott Mackay

    This is really interesting. I’m not sure I can move from QuickBooks (yes I hate it too), but I uploaded my QB file and I really like the reporting in Monchilla. So at the very least I just scored a great free dashboard for QB. I might try using it for payroll since that’s way cheaper too.

  • jackcouch

    Thanks for the feedback Scott. You can also use Monchilla time tracking for free and then update QuickBooks for paychecks and invoices. I’m glad you like the reporting. it’s even more helpful when you put in recurring income and expenses and you can play around with where your business is headed.

  • Todd Storch

    I’m an Office Manager for a small business and have been
    using Monchilla since 7/1/12 and am very happy with it! I was relatively new to accounting and
    completely new to double-entry bookkeeping and picked it up quickly, a
    testament to Monchilla’s intuitive UI and helpful support. I use it to track expenses and invoices, run
    payroll through direct deposit, reconcile transaction with our bank account and
    to run reports. As mentioned in the
    article, the ability to project your future bottom line by entering recurring
    (or estimated) income and expenses is a great feature.

    • Jack Couch

      Thanks Todd. Glad to hear it’s making your life easier!

  • http://www.4WeHelp.com/ 4WeHelp

    We signed up for Monchilla. It has a lot of great stuff but is very complicated to set up and more than most small business owner would understand. We tried for 2 days to get answers to customer support but they haven’t responded to our voicemails. The support forum Monchilla is not searchable and they haven’t responded to any questions there in almost a week so that isn’t helpful either.

    I really didn’t want to use Waveapps because they are missing some of the features that Monchilla offers (1099s and QB imports). Unfortunately it looks like they are going to be who we choose. I have noticed Waveapps software is constantly updated (couldn’t find a blog, news or changelog page Monchilla). Waveapps is also much easier to use, they are constantly rolling out new features/updates and their support is responsive.

  • Ashley

    Huh this is interesting information and gives a lot to think about. accounting firms in las vegas

  • Nishan Karassik

    Does anyone know if it can do partial PO reconciliations? Quickbooks online sucks! Basic things that the client version, which isn’t my favorite, the online version can’t do. This means they didn’t even port the existing product. I would love to find a real online accounting software.

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