Not every company can start out with a chief financial officer, but bookkeeping fintech Zeni is enabling startups to have those accounting and CFO services from the beginning.
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The Palo Alto-based company has launched its AI-powered finance concierge for startups and announced $13.5 million in funding to-date, which includes seed and Series A funding. The Series A portion was led by Saama Capital with participation from Amit Singhal, Sierra Ventures, SVB FInancial Group, Liquid 2 Ventures, Firebolt Ventures, Dragon Capital and Twin Ventures, as well as a group of angel investors.
Zeni co-founders and twin brothers Swapnil Shinde and Snehal Shinde started the company in 2019 after selling their last company, a travel concierge named Mezi, to American Express in 2018. Over the last 12 years of building companies, CEO Swapnil Shinde said they witnessed the financial problems startups were having first-hand.
“Bookkeeping is often not worked on until month’s end, but it is very manual and slow, and as founders you don’t have real-time insights, which becomes a problem quickly,” he added.
Instead, Zeni’s finance concierge performs daily bookkeeping and manages all other financial needs of startups for a flat monthly fee, as low as $299 per month. Startup founders then have real-time access to key financial insights via the Zeni Dashboard, including burn rate, operating expenses, cash/card balance and revenue by product.
The new funding will be used to hire across the company, including product and technology development as well as its finance team that crunches all of the numbers for the more than 100 startups currently using the platform.
In its first year, Zeni processed more than $300 million in transactions and is now managing $200 million in finances each month. It is on track to process a total of $1 billion in transactions in the next 12 months, Shinde said. In addition, he expects to achieve 300 percent growth in the next year.
“The secret sauce is how teams work with our platform, which they can oversee every day,” he said. “We have been operating in stealth mode with many of our customers coming from referrals. Now we want to double-charge that growth and invest in the team and invest on the sales front.”
Ash Lilani, managing partner at Saama Capital, said in an interview that he has been following the Shinde brothers for years, having also invested in Mezi. When they sold the company, it was such a productive relationship that Lilani told them if they decided to start something new, he would back them.
He was along for the ride when the Shindes were deciding their next move and liked their idea of Zeni, saying financials are a critical issue for founders.
“I was impressed with their grasp on the technology and artificial intelligence, in particular,” Lilani said. “CFOs only come with the growth phase. Not to mention, the bookkeeping is not done in real time, and I’ve seen startups scramble before the board meeting to get their financials, so the Zeni concept was exciting. They have a large opportunity to solve a problem so common and scale the company.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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