Saurav Bhandari, ArboHQ
Intro: [00:00:07] Broadcasting live from the Georgia World Congress Center. For Fintech South 2022, it’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by Atlanta Blockchain Center. Now here is your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:27] Lee Kantor here. Broadcasting live from FinTech South 2022 in the Georgia World Congress Center. So excited to be talking to our next guest, Saurav Bhandari with ArboHQ. Welcome.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:00:39] Thank you. Thank you for having me here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:42] Well, I’m so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about ArboHQ. How are you serving folks?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:00:47] So, we are an accounting software and finance software for tech companies.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:54] So, what are these tech companies using if they don’t have ArboHQ?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:00:58] They are using maybe QuickBooks or Xero or whatever their accountant shoves them into.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:04] And why is that a mistake? Why should they be using ArboHQ instead?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:01:08] So, just like any other thing, not everything is created equal. So, all CPAs do not focus on tech companies. And we are a Saas platform. So, we have CPAs on our team, and I’m a CPA myself who focus on tech companies.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:26] So, the unique challenges a tech company is facing –.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:01:29] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:30] — and their unique needs?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:01:31] Yes, from fundraising to getting their financials on time, ensuring they don’t have shady stuff on their balance sheet or income statement. So, all of that. Because there are certain things that investors look for when they’re analyzing whether to invest you — in you or not.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:53] Right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:01:53] So, we ensure, like, their financials are up to date, they’re reflected the right way. All of their cap tables are reflected the right way on the balance sheet. So that reduces a lot of the headache on the client-side. And also, if you think — I’m going to talk to you about a story with one of our users.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:16] OK. So, they were a startup.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:02:18] They were a startup.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:19] And then they went with ArboHQ.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:02:22] They went with ArboHQ, yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:23] So, did they have a bad experience with the previous — another one of these other or they —
Saurav Bhandari: [00:02:28] No.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:29] — or you got to you got them early before they had any bad habits?
[00:02:33] Before — well, we can say that, yes. And also, like when they presented during the due diligence phase, when they presented their financials there. And this is the e-mail that I got from the investor. We’ve not seen a financial statement like this before because —
Lee Kantor: [00:02:50] In a good way.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:02:50] In a good way. Because you get your general ledger, you get all the way to the transactions, the cap tables, everything in one Excel file or a PDF.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:59] And it’s clean.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:03:00] It’s clean.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:00] It’s up to date.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:03:01] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:01] And it’s accurate.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:03:02] Yes, and it’s accurate. And the best of that is just not the accounting side, because when you talk to investors, you have to talk to them about your burn rate. You have to talk to them about your cash runway, right? What are your top ten expenses, revenue trending, the growth, right? So, all of that is readily available in the dashboard, in the executive summary that we have.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:26] Because you’ve reverse-engineered it for a startup —
Saurav Bhandari: [00:03:30] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:30] — to get investors, to show investors. So, it’s built for that environment. It’s not something that you’re taking something that was maybe an old school way of doing an accounting. And then now I got to take that data and then put it in this other thing to give to an investor?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:03:45] Right. So, this is the opposite way where you just sign up –.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:49] Right. You built this elegantly just to —
Saurav Bhandari: [00:03:51] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:51] So, they just have to input the information the — one time cleanly then it’s going to take care of itself?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:03:57] Not even input. All you got to do is connect your bank accounts.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:01] Yes.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:01] And just hands-off.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:03] Hands-off, it’s going to —
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:03] Hands-off. It’s completely hands-off.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:03] It’s going to do all the heavy lifting?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:06] Yes, sir. Yes, it’s 90% automation that we have right now. And the 10% is more like tweaking around by the bookkeeper. So, you get dedicated bookkeeping team and tax team for you. And we also have outsourced CFO services in case you grow.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:25] And you need that, right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:26] If you need that. Yes, so.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:27] But you don’t have to start with that. You can —
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:30] You don’t have to start with that.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:30] You can do it through a bookkeeper, just kind of basics.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:34] Yes, basic and it’s free.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:34] Free?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:36] Free until you raise or until you start making revenue. So, there’s a precursor to it. So, you can use the platform for free, because we built it.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:46] Right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:46] Now, we built it the right way, the best way. And it’s out there for free. So, we’re launching our mobile apps today, like today, today.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:57] Today.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:04:57] On both App Store and Android — Play Store.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:01] So, it’s in Google and Apple?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:05:04] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:04] Both ecosystems.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:05:06] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:06] And it’s ready to go today. If you are a pre-revenue startup, you can just sign up and then you can use this as you move — moving forward?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:05:13] Yes. So, you can sign up. So, the sign-up happens on the web app. So, the phone apps, it’s more like after you sign up. It’s to get your dashboard and stuff and everything.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:24] Right, right, right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:05:24] There’s still some capabilities that we need to. At the end of the day, we’re a startup ourselves.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:30] Sure.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:05:30] So, we got to take it slow. Whatever we can bite off, right?.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:32] Right. So, this exciting time. So, were you the technologists that put the code together or you were kind of the subject matter expert as a CPA or both?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:05:41] So, the beauty of it is I was both. So, my previous background is with Home Depot on finance, accounting, and analytics. So, I’ve been on the FP&A, so it’s a decade worth of experience of mine as a CPA and in supply chain, all of this analytic stuff that I did for Home Depot and HCA combined into the platform. So, it’s just not an accounting platform, it’s also an FP&A tool. So, it has a built-in plan manager where they can review the budget and plans with their investors. And what that does, it just keeps you in check.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:17] Sure.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:06:17] So, you don’t have to lay off 20% of your workforce next year.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:20] Like surprise.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:06:22] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:22] Now, how has it been? Are you still at Home Depot now or in this side hustle or are you all in on this now?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:06:28] Oh, I’m like all in and more of it. So my life, everything is in it already.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:35] So, what was that transition like going from a big corporate entity, like at Home Depot for so long, and then now this is your own thing? This is — you’re in charge. The buck stops with you.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:06:45] Yes, it was — so with Home Depot, I was on a leadership position as well. So, I had all of the responsibilities. But I — it was that itch. I would — I’ve always wanted to build a software. And there were bigger problems that I could solve but when I started getting into Atlanta Tech Village. And — because I started — as a side hustle, I started CPA firm, which I — as soon as I got in, I realized, alright, there are issues with this industry. And it’s a century-old industry. $140 billion industry that has not been disrupted. It’s currently going through disruption but not a disruption that ArboHQ can bring.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:25] Right, like — and QuickBooks isn’t really a disruption.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:07:28] Quickbooks is the —
Lee Kantor: [00:07:31] It’s a tool that you know, maybe is an updated tool.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:07:34] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:34] But it’s still kind of the same system, right?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:07:36] Yes, it’s the same system that’s very slow. So, one of the biggest thing that got me started on building the accounting software myself is because Amazon has been in existence since a long time now.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:51] Right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:07:52] And you could not integrate Amazon Marketplace with QuickBooks until 2021. Can you believe that?.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:58] And that’s probably over 20 years —
Saurav Bhandari: [00:08:00] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:00] — that Amazon was in business –.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:08:01] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:02] — before that happened.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:08:02] Exactly. Now, they’ve figured it out and started, like, doing things a little differently, but it’s a pain point for the CPAs themselves to use. But they don’t have any other options. They have — the second option is Xero, which is the UI is — I’m not a big fan of their UI. So, there’s no hands-off approach.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:08:24] There’s one approach which is Bench. So, Bench is our closest competition because it’s — so instead of DIY, they focus on DIFM.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:33] Right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:08:33] Which is, do it for me. So, we’re taking the similar approach with our software. But Bench is, again, it’s just like QuickBooks, it’s for small business, it’s for, like, Mom and Pop shops.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:44] Right, it’s not specializing the startups.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:08:47] Yes, it’s — it does not specialize on tech startups. And if once — and it does not do accrual accounting. And you have — another closest competition is Pilot. But Pilot is super expensive because they’ve already grown. They don’t care about startups.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:02] Yes, and I’m sure you can’t start for free.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:09:05] Exactly. You cannot start with Pilot for free. It cost an arm and a leg. And they do not have their own software. They just have a fancy UI on top of QuickBooks, which isn’t actually disrupting the company or disrupting the industry.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:20] So, now if somebody wants to learn more about ArboHQ, where do they go?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:09:25] They can go to arboHQ.com. See for themselves. We have a screenshot of what the dashboard is going to look like. It’s going to look like the same, or even better once you log in because it takes time for us to update the front manning page. And — or they can check us out in Apps Store, hopefully, by end of this week because we launched it. It takes some time for it to go through the app stores.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:09:48] But web app is completely functional. It’s fully functional, secure, no issues there. And they can also reach out to me on LinkedIn — connect with me on LinkedIn, on Instagram. No Facebook, because we clearly realize at first, like, our market is not in Facebook.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:08] Sure, and look —
Saurav Bhandari: [00:10:08] So, we’re not Facebook.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:09] — if you’re a pre-revenue startup, there’s no reason not to check you out, right?
Saurav Bhandari: [00:10:15] Yes, exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:15] Like every pre-revenue startup should be checking out ArboHQ.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:10:17] Exactly. Exactly. And it’s for free.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:20] Right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:10:20] You cannot beat that. Nobody in this world can beat that.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:24] Right. All right. So, that’s arbohq.com to learn more.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:10:29] Yes, it’s A-R-B-O-H-Q which stands for Arbo Headquarters.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:34] All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story today.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:10:37] Thank you so much.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:39] All right.
Saurav Bhandari: [00:10:39] Thank you for having me here.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:40] We’ll be back in a few with — at Fintech South 2022.
Outro: [00:10:52] This episode has been brought to you by Atlanta Blockchain Center, the catalyst for Atlanta’s emergence as the premier blockchain innovation hub globally through cultivating entrepreneurship, inclusivity, and education. To learn more, go to atlblockchaincenter.com.
Fintech South 2022 is a world-class summit with its nexus in Atlanta live and in-person, a global financial technology hub that is home to more than 200 fintech companies. The top 15 public fintech companies in Georgia alone generate more than $100 billion in revenues.