Zeni Automates Startup Financials

When entrepreneurs dream of making their mark, their minds don’t immediately waft over the books. With Zeni, those entrepreneurs can keep their focus on ideas and growth.

Founders Swapnil and Snehal Shinde founded the bookkeeping and accounting service for tech startups based on their experience founding two previous companies, Swapnil said. Zeni provides an AI-powered finance team to manage bookkeeping, pay bills reconcile invoices and complete all the other important functions companies need to properly manage their cash flow.

The typical scenario sees a startup engage a professional to manually complete the books at the end of every month. Two or three weeks later they produce an Excel file that is already 20 days behind reflecting your current state.

“It is extremely intimidating to look at,” Swapnil conceded. “As first-time founders we could not derive any insights from it. As founders we lacked real-time insight into our finances on a daily basis.”

Then there is year-end, which necessitates a temporary CFO to complete the books and generate projections. As the company grows, more functions are added and all of them become more complex. It’s a global issue, Swapnil said.

Zeni’s secret recipe includes a mix of AI, machine learning, automation and human finance experts. Think of it as a concierge which managed all your necessary functions while delivering AI-powered insights to your own personalized dashboard.

“It directly solves the problems we have experienced ourselves for the past 20 years,” Swapnil said. “All this analysis and real-time insights into your finances becomes extremely valuable for startup founders.”

Getting the technology just right was a challenge, Swapnil admitted. The receipt automation took a year.

“Imagine the number of times a bookkeeper will manually look at a receipt, then infer data from it, retrieve data from it and update your books,” he said. “Our goal is to replace that human and that is where the artificial intelligence comes in.”

Their thought process involved looking at receipts the way a CFO would and then build a machine that automates it. It frees professional up to focus on more complex and valuable tasks.

Swapnil Shinde

Swapnil Shinde is excited about robotic process automation’s (RPA) potential to tackle the manual, time-consuming tasks that have been resistant to early tech solutions. He sees RPA contributing to workflow automation while improving accuracy.

Perhaps the smartest move the Shindes made was in deciding to focus on tech startups, Swapnil said. With finances so personalized in each vertical, building the comprehensive tool they envisioned would be difficult. Better to focus on the unique needs of tech startups, which the brothers know well. That should keep them busy for several years, as they can see from a client base ranging from no-revenue firms to those earning nine figures that Zeni can scale with clients as they grow.

Investors clearly love Zeni too. Earlier this year the company announced a $13.5 million seed and Series A round. The Series A was led by Saama Capital with involvement from Amit Singhal, Sierra Ventures, SVB Financial Group, Liquid 2 Ventures, Firebolt Ventures, Dragon Capital, Twin Ventures and a group of angel investors.