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Bootstrapping with a Paycheck in India: Sangeeta Banerjee, CEO of ApartmentADDA (Part 8)

Posted on Sunday, Dec 15th 2013

Sramana Mitra: Who runs your Bangalore office?

San Banerjee: Ashika runs that office. When we relocated to Mumbai, we knew that our Bangalore office would fall apart unless somebody was running it. We promoted here and she is now our COO. She stabilized that office.

Sramana Mitra: It sounds like 2011 was a traumatic year. How did you end that year in terms of customers and revenue?

San Banerjee: We ended the year with over 200 customers and we had 35 lakh in revenue.

Sramana Mitra: Was the business cash flow positive?

San Banerjee: It covered all of our costs except for the founder salaries. We were able to recruit our workforce at below market salaries by showing prospective employees our potential. We actually showed a little profit that year as well. We had to amortize our subscription revenues which made us profitable. Some of the subscriptions span financial years, we were able to get credit for those in 2012 that had started in the prior year.

Sramana Mitra: What were the major events of the 2012 to 2013 financial year?

San Banerjee: That year was all about Mumbai. It was all about understanding the Mumbai market and how to sell in Mumbai. We made a strategic decision to forge partnerships with accountants who specialized in auditing management committees. We felt that the best way to grow the product was to develop the ecosystem. The whole ecosystem in Bangalore was spent trying to convince management committees that they had a need to invest in software. We find that a lot of auditors try to reject any accounting system unless is a specific brand. We still fight that to this day to some extent.

In Mumbai we found it easier to get the attention of accountants because they had been exposed to multiple software products. That was very good for us because they were willing to listen to what we are talking about.

Sramana Mitra: Its interesting you say that because FACT software had to gain acceptance in India as well.

San Banerjee: I have not heard of them.

Sramana Mitra: You probably have not in your ecosystem, but FACT is a very successful accounting software company in India. I can see that auditor acceptance would be challenging. Despite that you have a rather sizable customer base.

San Banerjee: We do have a good customer base. I think accounting is still a difficult area because we have to create the ecosystem. We need to ensure that auditors are willing to accept the data that they get from our software for their audits.

Sramana Mitra: Are you in other cities as well now?

San Banerjee: We have offices in Mumbai and Bangalore. We have customers across 70 cities in India, and we have paying customer all over India as well.

This segment is part 8 in the series : Bootstrapping with a Paycheck in India: Sangeeta Banerjee, CEO of ApartmentADDA
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