April 6, 2016

Botkeeper Lets You Outsource Bookkeeping to Robots

Bookkeeping. Good luck finding an entrepreneur who claims it’s their favorite part of owning a business.

That’s because, unless you’ve got a background in accounting, reconciling the books can be a pain. Bookkeeping is difficult and time-consuming and almost half of small business owners say it’s the the task they hate most, according to a survey by TD Bank. That figure only grows as they log more work hours, with 58 percent of small business owners working 60-plus hours a week saying they hate bookkeeping.

“Bookkeeping is probably the least sexy thing you could be doing,” says Enrico Palmerino, lead investor in Botkeeper, a robotic bookkeeping system that integrates with existing software and leverages machine learning to manage the books. “It takes a lot of time if you’re going to do it right. If you don’t do it right, you can completely misinterpret the health of your business.”

Despite everyone’s mutual dislike of the task, bookkeeping is a necessary evil. You’re going to have a hard time building a profitable business if your books are a disaster. Sure, lots of entrepreneurs may opt to manage the books on their own. But at a certain point, that becomes impossible - either because business is booming or because the amount of time spent bookkeeping becomes unmanageable.

“It seems easy to manage [the books] on your own at the start, but eventually it multiplies and grows exponentially,” says Louie Balasny, managing director at Botkeeper. “A few hours turns into 40 hours and you’re doing it yourself and aren’t sure that you’re doing it right.”

Leave the books to the bots

There are other options for bookkeeping, like hiring a full-time employee or outsourcing to a CPA or bookkeeping firm. But these routes can take more time, cost more, or both.

That’s where startup Botkeeper comes into play. The company launched in September and offers a reasonable alternative to the short list of options for bookkeeping. Its entry-level package runs $400 per month, which gets you 10 hours of Botkeeper service for tasks like paying the bills, client invoicing, accounting for expenses, reconciling bank accounts and credit cards, revenue recognition, payroll entries, and more.

That starting rate also includes full access to Botkeeper’s dashboards and reports, and a CPA for tasks that can’t be automated. Service is 24/7 - meaning if you’ve got a midnight question, it has a midnight answer. If you send a project for it to complete at 2 a.m., you’ll wake up in the morning to find everything finished.

A screenshot of one of Botkeeper's dashboards.

With error rates of 5 percent or less, Botkeeper claims it’s more accurate than its human counterparts. That, combined with the solution’s sheer speed, allows business owners to better utilize their time.

“We’re seeing clients double as a result of using Botkeeper,” says Palmerino. “They have better insight to financials. They’re spending more time on growing the business and not on bookkeeping.”

Currently, Botkeeper is on-boarding an average of five clients a day. Thirty customers are up and running with the solution, an additional 80 are in the queue, and Palmerino projects they’ll be at 150 customers by year end.

It has also contracted with a bookkeeping company, which is outsourcing labor to Botkeeper. More agreements like this are in the works - which could mean that Palmerino’s 150 client projection winds up reaching a whole lot higher.

“The bookkeeping company has outsourced to us because we can do it more efficiently,” says Palmerino. “If we have more partnerships like this, we will be into the few hundreds and will hit a seven-figure run rate within our first year.”


Kaite Rosa is Director of Content & Marketing at VentureFizz. Follow her on Twitter: @KaiteRosa