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.”
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Past profiles can be found here.