Vision & Foresight: What it Takes to Build a Business Despite Challenges


Amol Ghemud | Published: July 14, 2022
Vision & Foresight: What it Takes to Build a Business Despite Challenges

Bhaskar

Welcome to another podcast from a upGrowth. My name is Bhaskar I am your host for the evening. And upGrowth, as you know brings you podcasts with industry leaders with entrepreneurs who have, who have created businesses, who are role models, and who inspire others to do things in life. And our podcasts, have a theme, every podcast is not just about an interview. Every podcast is not about a product. Every podcast is not about someone selling something. 

Our podcasts are about stories, our podcast are about what is possible, call it the art of possible. Our podcast is about what is needed in the society, the changes that our society needs, and how we can do as a digital economy. So with that, I mean, I will put a link to the other podcasts that we have had until now in the description. And please go ahead and check those out. I would like to kind of delve into what we are going to talk about today. 

Today, what we’re going to talk about is inclusivity. Now, if India is going to be a trillion dollar or a $2 trillion $10 trillion economy, it cannot be in the hands of few or few hundreds. It has to be a mass movement. It has to be from people, by the people from and for the people. We have to get everyone involved to create that trillion dollar or $3 trillion economy. 

Again, if you look at the second problem that we are facing today, as a nation, there is disparity. There are pockets of wealth. And there is this entire vast sea of people who don’t have even money to feed themselves. Now, these are the two extremes. But look at the bottom of the pyramid. That’s such a huge masss. Bottom of the Pyramid are people who actually run this economy. 

These are not the wealthiest one person. These are not the poorest people who who are who don’t, who don’t even on the basic wages. 

These are the people who you interact with every day. Your Kirana wala, your, your salon person, your electrician, your plumber, your your hardware store. This is these other people with who are in the middle and the bottom of the pyramid and run India. So we were thinking about how do we get digital, get them digitally enabled. And then, you know, there are so many challenges. Village digital is a great enabler, by the way you do need a lot of investment to get online and start selling your business. 

But there is a huge learning over there. People who acquire the skill can do it people who can’t acquire the skill cannot. So, so we thought that okay, this session that we do for our upGrowth has to be about inclusivity. How do we include masses in in the journey to the trillion dollar economy? What needs to be done? Okay, we can say government, it’s the government’s prerogative government has to do certain things and include everyone. But no government is just a nice private sector or the large enterprises have their CSR but again, it’s constrained. They can only do so much, which is where entrepreneurs need to create these opportunities.

And and and then we Then Then we are we as a prototype are very fortunate. And we are very happy to have been working with a team, a couple who, who redefine what inclusivity is, who have kind of changed the meaning of inclusivity. 

So it’s my pleasure to, to welcome Krishna Kant, who I would love to call KK and Prajkta on this on this podcast. 

By the way, this podcast will also be available on YouTube, and for everyone else. So let me introduce you to Krishna Kant. KK started off as a young engineer with a vision to help the underserved sections of our society. He founded an open source accounting software that put his name on the map. And there has been no looking back since then. 

In 18, plus years, he has founded organizations, multiple organizations. And he’s been advisor to ministries in the Indian state and internationally. And he developed software’s and more, I’m just being very cryptic, because there is something going to come. He’s a TEDx speaker. And he is a role model and a rockstar in India. And by the way, take a look here on the screen is visually challenged. 

And I when I was kind of doing research for this interview, kk mentioned that people, people ask him this question, do you actually not see or do you partially see? So I will come to that question with KK later. But KK is a role model. And he, he wanted to be inclusive. So he created an ecosystem of inclusiveness. Welcome, KK to the show.

KK  

Yeah, thank you. Thank you for having me online. Hi, everybody.

Bhaskar  

My next guest is Prajkta. Prajkta is passionate about software. And she’s an accomplished Python. And data analyst. Plus she has experience in UI UX. She is She is the co founder of the company, which I’m going to introduce right now. And, and she’s kind of things ahead and kind of the people person, she manages the operations. Welcome Prajkta.

Prajkta 

Yeah, thank you.

Bhaskar   

KK and Prajkta are also married. And they are the power couple, and they run this company called PubMatic. Private Limited, which you may know by the brand OnlineKhata. So So let me start kicking with a very, very basic question. What according to you is inclusivity in business?

KK   

You see, when you have a situation wherein people are either, you know, paying a lot for technologies or any resource, not just technology, I mean, from the technology front, I can talk about that, but any resources or have to compromise and end up doing less business or lose on their business opportunities, because they have to either go for cheap and unprofessional stuff, or they end up paying a lot, which is again a loss. So having not having cost effective and better resources to actually make them focus on their business. So making or facilitating people’s, you know, time and energy and money so that they can focus on their business is what I think is inclusivity.

Okay, that’s interesting. So let me take a step back. Oh, I mean, personally, what does inclusivity mean to you? And I would really love if you could share your story over here.

KK   

Yes, because that that itself, made me realize what inclusivity actually should mean and that’s how it has been like that. So, by the way, I am the first visually impaired IT professional, a complete, visually impaired IT professional and in India, and when I started my career, we were only three in Asia. So I don’t know whether I was the first, second or third. But there were other two people who were also simultaneously budding IT professionals in Asia. But then that is the whole story. Now, what happened is that when I was young child, my parents put me in a sighted school again, that was the first case in India, that totally blind person is not put in any special school, but a regular school where all the other kids go. So you know, that was a thing. And when I was in my seven seventh grade yes, so, while visiting US all alone, by the way, my parents sent me they were his friends, or my father’s friends over there, I was seeing some schools for the blind people there. And I discovered a talking typewriter. So it’s a rudimentary stuff, like when you press a it will say, when you press space, it will say space. And you know, when you press the backspace, it will say, erased and the character, so I was like, Oh, great. I mean, I was fascinated, small child, you know, so I asked the teacher over there that how is it that a typewriter talks, so she in her American accent told me it has a program in it, so it has a program, so I said, what program I mean, like radio or TV program, so just laugh and then she said, Okay, I’ll give you some books, and some cassette tapes, you can go home and read it. So, when I came back to India, I read those books ever in the braille, the dotted language which blind people use, and some cassette tapes,

then I realized that which means program is like, you know, putting your own wisdom into the computer’s artificial brain for processes with a sequence of instructions, and it has to be done in a specific manner, it has to be done in a specific way, which a computer understands that is programming. And then I realize I learned about hardware software and all and I realized that if we think of computer as a brain, and then if we can have artificial senses to it, we already have the right keyboard, mouse printer scanner, camera, which we are using right now, and so on and so forth, then, you know, the creativity, accuracy, and, you know, for the quality, the the authenticity of your work is going to be raised by in finite level, when when these things happen, you know, at that time, the internet was a rarity. Everyone did not have internet, you know, what that is, that is what I thought like, you know, the creativity of a person, the accuracy, and the speed at which you can do your work, it is going to be raised at infinite level. And that is the reason I decided I want to be one of those people who put those that wisdom of, or ideas into computers bring through through a thing called programming language. And that’s what I thought, and that’s when I decided that I will be a software engineer, because then I knew that this is a totally big thing. And that’s going to happen. So when I made this announcement, I was in the merit list in 10th grade, that time there was something called his merit list. There was Pin drop silence. Some people thought I’m a fool. Some people thought he’s a visionary. Some people thought he was a dreamer, you know, and all that. But apparently, I couldn’t take this is the first time when I realized the need for inclusivity I couldn’t take up computer science for a simple reason that there was no software or you know, hardware infrastructure facility available in India, which would help a blind person run a computer let alone being an engineer. So they were talking there is a speech synthesizers by the time they had come, but they were very costly. So I did my arts I that time I did one thing. As a hacker I say never stop try finding alternative ideas but never stop. So I took up sort of subjects like logic of course mathematics was there and stuff like that statistics, because I knew eventually I will do my engineering and that time this will come in very handy. So after my first graduation, then this office it becomes slightly cheap. And one of my father’s friend it was still not affordable to us. My father’s friend you know, gifted me one software copy of a talking software. And that was like costing like one lakh rupees, 100,000 rupees. And that’s very costly. That was a second time I realized okay, I have one. Now I will be a software engineer because then I convinced the university paid to take me in and then they put the software on the machine and on. Again, this was a second shock to me, I said okay, I am the winner. It is like sheer denial of opportunity. Because I had good context. I was a good speaker, I was a journalist, I used to write for papers. So I had those contexts. What about other blind people who may have also thought like me, but now they will not be able to do it because they cannot afford and they don’t have context. So that was a second time and I realized that there is some new default inclusivity and that is the time when I had decided that when I the first free time I will get out of my work, when I will Oh under something when I will be in my job or business, I will help develop a talking software which will be free. And that apparently did happen when I had a few guys funded by Sun Microsystems, we together started a project called Orca ORCA its a talking software on the Linux operating system, it was then also a mimic in Windows for NVDA. I am not a part of NVDA. But I was a part of Orca, which started in the first place. So that’s when I thought, Okay, I’ve done something which is now making things a bit more inclusive. And fast forward to OnlineKhata same thing happened with with, you know, the concept because I realized that small and micro businesses are either ending up paying a lot of money to get good software, or they have to spend a lot of time away from their business, dealing with the accountants and giving them data and all that stuff. So I thought we’d have to have a middle way for that. And that’s, that’s how always it has been that, you know, I always believe that we have to work on inclusivity. And wherever is now digitally underserved, they have to serve properly. So that’s my story. And that’s my take on inclusivity.

Bhaskar   

Thanks, thanks, kk for sharing that. Couple of things. You are a funny guy, by the way, you mentioned your experience in in the US. And it must be profound. What year was that?

KK   

95-94 or something like that?

Bhaskar  

94-95 Okay, amazing. Amazing. Thanks. And I remember you and I had a conversion conversation last week, where you had mentioned like, you know, you may not have vision, but you are visionary, I truly believe now that I hear your story. Great. So Prajkta, anything, I would like to just take a detour and say, Get something about how you met. KK and how did that happen? And we’ll come back to the conversation later.

Prajkta 

Okay, hi Bhaskar. So, okay. So firstly, KK is very famous in IT circle. So I was knowing him since I was I started my engineering. So I had a, he has he had called to so many news channels. And he has given interview on I think, I don’t remember the show name. But yes, he had got Ibn award. Super Idol award. So I was knowing him, since I think 2008 or nine. And then when I joined my engineering, he had come to our college for open giving a lecture on open source. Okay, so after that, we connected on Facebook, and then we met, and then I joined his organization as a fresher.

Bhaskar  

Wow, you met on Facebook?

Prajkta   

Yeah, the second meeting was on Facebook. First, yeah.

Bhaskar    

Yeah, I’m just taking a it to KK. How do you how do you how do you access Facebook? And it’s important for people to know so

KK    

yeah. So that that talking software which I said no, of course there are proprietary costly talking software’s even today available, but the one I use, and there is also one on Windows, or those three softwares or Orca That is ORCA and non visual desktop access NVDA. That’s on Windows. So what happens is, whenever you’re moving your arrows to cursors, or you’re pressing the Tab key, or you know, when you’re pressing function keys, or you know you’re accessing your menus with keyboard, I totally rely on the keyboard. So everything is announced back that is the whole software. That is the whole idea about it, including that text, including the notifications including the dropdowns. And what is the contents in that drop down, including what let’s say I’m on a button which is closed, so it will say Close button. So I know it’s a button, I have to press it or a check box it will say toggle to press spacebar to toggle it. So, the entire thing is about the infrastructure which any operating system gives. So, that is the whole concept of accessibility as it is called in in the digital world. So as far as you know, since you are asking what Facebook, when people often asked me, you know, are there certain advantages? Yes, I’ll tell you what, like I met Prajkta in a College time. So I had gone for a lecture there and then we met and we realized that we have everything in common including our hobbies, including our inclination towards stuff like classical music and everything. But the thing is I used to chat with her even at my home, the big advantage was that I would switch off the screen door to know what’s going on even even in the crowd, I could safely chat with her because I earphone would have been in my ear and the talking software for talking and the screen used to be switched off. So I could talk with her, I mean, even personal things anytime, anywhere, without any problems, you blindness has its own advantage.

Bhaskar    

As I said, you you kind of You’re a funny guy, let me put it that way. Great. So, so, guys, we will put a link to these software’s in the description, wherever you are viewing this on YouTube or on the podcast. So, we thank KK for sharing this detail. And please feel free to share these softwares with people you know who need these and that will help us

KK    

and they are not just free of cost they are open source which means if either of you are programmers and wish to contribute as a social thing towards such such initiatives, you can also help them with documentation. Human source code contributions.

Bhaskar

Absolutely. Thanks KK. KK Now, switching the gears a bit. Would you you know, small business is is not small for the Indian economy. Small business is big for Indian economy. What is the and what happens is like big businesses have their own lobby, they go and lobby to the government and the small businesses don’t get proper representation. What are the major challenges you think small businesses face today?

KK

You see, one of the biggest challenge is digital inclusion and one of the biggest challenges that they are technologically underserved. The simple reason being let me let me take the very thing, the theme of our software itself now why this whole thing comes up, because what does small business does, they will just small counter and they will be making their bills because customers are coming and buying things, you know, and that’s it. But now what they have to do they have to take those bills, they have to compile them together and they have to go to their accountant they have to pay 24 30,000 rupees per year Look Mr. Janek, you correct? I mean, why do we have to pay so much to the accountant? And and then accountant will call up and say boss, this is not right entry. Please give us that is not right. We don’t we don’t understand this and why have you done this expense? Why and why not you have done this. And then again, this whole, you know, hustle bustle keeps on happening and they end up paying a lot of money, they end up losing a lot of time. This is one challenging other challenges that they are they are not even aware of facilities whether government or even private facilities, even with the fact that there is Facebook, there is Twitter, there is everything available. But these people because they’re very poor at communication, I’m talking about the typical roadside shops or you know salons as you rightly said or or in tuition, teachers or instructors and all now, they need to know that there are resources. Forget that even small tech startups. I don’t know how many of them actually know the procedure of applying for startup India, which is by the very great thing which an Indian which the Indian government is right now doing. So the facilitation is not there, which of course, is there. And the inclusion disability because I think if you can’t afford good technology, and if you do, you don’t have the right knowledge and the technologies are not simple enough to handle, that’s also a situation and disability disability is always not about being blind or deaf on demand or anything else. Even this more than micro people are digitally disabled. This is what I believe that is the biggest challenge.

Bhaskar  

Okay, so and then could you kind of lead us into because I know about this, like GNU Khaata,

how did you? How did it all start? Because this is a big problem. And I am sure and I know of it that you have you have done a few things to address this. Can you just take us back a few years how you discovered it and how you kind of started to address this problem.

KK    

So I was an independent software consultant apart from the fact that I was working with IIT. I was working With Amid Media Foundation, I also worked in the Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education, which is in Mumbai, I did work there. And there, I was introduced to the concept of free and open source software. One fine day, I realized that on one hand, there are costly proprietary complex of this, which a lot of people used to tally their books of accounts.

Bhaskar    

Okay, like that tally their books of account.

KK    

Yeah, so. So they have to tell you their account. So for getting the tally, they have to go to the accountant, or then they have to have a software which can tell you their account. But to do that, they have to have that knowledge and understand how to tell you the accounts in the first place. All the debits and credits and stuff. I thought, okay, something has to be done about it. Let’s do there are two three things here is number one, it need not be so complicated, because 90% of the features in all these big ERPs. And big time, software’s are not even used by 10% of the small and micro businesses. Okay, so first of all, get rid of, you know, unnecessary things. Number two, there should be something which is available to everyone. And number three, we need to do something to, you know, reduce the processes. And I thought, okay, let’s do this, because I thought if I’m saying all these things, then I had two questions. If, if not me, then who? And if not, now, then when that’s when I decided to do this GNU Khaata, which is a free software, of course, it’s still there. I founded it, I lead the project for 10 years. During that I have we had funding from Kerala government, and sometimes from the central government as well, some commercial companies like Tech Blue services also had given little bit of contribution. So basically, I always saw to it that it’s community participated software effort, not community driven, because there are a lot of community driven software’s which fail, because then there is all kinds of problems in that. So as far as when I was leading it, and founded it, I decided we’ll have community participation, but there should be some central leadership, which can decide on stuff. No. So that’s how I ran it, I started my own organization called Digital Freedom Foundation. That is the place where project also, by the way, started, we started there. And later on, of course, at some point, we realized, Okay, we are doing this, it’s free software, it’s great. If I leave it, the community will be able to handle it, handle it properly, let it be. The problem was that the community and this nonprofit funders always had an agenda to you know, kind of, they had a limited approach. Plus, when you say that there is community participation in the software, like a financial software, you cannot expect the customers to get that much of consistency, reliability, certainty of service. That is when I decided, okay, that project can continue on its own because it’s an offline tool, by the way, it’s not hosted on the cloud, let people continue doing its work. I thought, we have the domain knowledge, let’s do everything right from scratch, and build up a commercially viable product. That would be the best way to reach the masses. And yes, put it at a very cost effective rate, and give a very professional quality service to those people. They even asked us accounting questions, you know, sometimes they ask you, ‘Hamare Accountant, ne aisa bola hai’, you know, they are asking us to do it this way, what is the right way of doing it. So that’s a complimentary thing, of course. And then you realize that this is the right way of going about it. Let’s start a company and do the entire stuff. Because it will be a totally different ballgame. When you are doing at a commercial level and giving service to the customers we serve as just picking a free software and giving it for download. There are differences in that. So that’s how OnlineKhata happened. And we decided okay, the first thing we should do is we should enhance the automation part of the software and make accounting completely automated. And also see to it that the customers are made well aware of that that needs proper sales executives and stuff like that. So that’s that’s how it happened. And fortunately, we were working me and Prajkta are also with another company called Tech blue Private Limited. One of those were contributed back then in Khaata. We had a good repo with the director of the company were there and they kind of adored me a lot. And they of course adore Prajkta also a lot. And we had a very nice relation together. They also are involved in some open source activities. So once I told them that there’s something I wish to do and I That’s my vision that we want to serve the digitally underserved people in a very professional way, not just CSR or kind of a free software. So they immediately within 24 hours, told me in principle that they are ready to be my investors. I should float a company and they would put the money in and that’s exactly what happened. One is a huge A Mr. UK based investor, Vikas Tara, he has his own accounting company there. And then there was also a company in India called Tech blue Private Limited, by the way, the Tech Blue is also owned by Vika Tara himself. And he’s an angel investor. Anyhow, it has been an extreme pleasure working together because they also mentor at times because we are good at developing products, we are good at telling people what the product is all about. We are very good at at reaching the masses. What we might not be so good at is good marketing, which you guys are really expert at, as well as some. Mentoring is required for strategy planning. And that’s where our investors have really. Been our mentors as well. So that’s the whole story of New Khaata and how we actually kind of took a detour from it for best reasons. And started right from scratch on this one.

Bhaskar 

Thanks KK, for sharing that. There are a few things that come out. Digital Freedom Foundation. Was that a revolution?

KK 

The revolution was already started in 1984 by a person named Doctor Richard Stallman, because for him, according to him, free, it’s not free of cost, it means freedom. So you should have the freedom to do whatever you want to do with your software. Just like you buy a diary from a shop. The shopkeeper cannot tell you that you can only write this in your diary and not that. And he’s not going to come and check all the time. It’s your product. You can do anything you want. So that is the whole concept. And by the way, free software is more of a political movement. That’s another reason why I chose to stay away from it after a certain period of time. There is also a parallel moment for open source wherein it’s more of a commercial stuff. Open source as a simple funder that if there are multiple participants and the stages open, you will have a myriad of ideas and you can screen the best ones and let people contribute to the product and also get something back from it. So that’s the open source thing. I thought if we have to do something for New Khaata, which is the open source one we did, it should be done properly under an organization. And that’s how we did Digital Freedom Foundation. But when I did that, I also realized that this is an opportunity to also help other fellow visually disabled people. And I ran a project called Digital Drishti for some time, but alas, we couldn’t get a lot of funding for that. That was to actually make more blind. Software engineers like myself. But it is not really happening. I’m still trying to make attempts to do it at a social level because that’s not something which I’m doing for profit, but it has to be sustained in certain ways. So Digital Freedom Foundation also did that work and we also had worked with the Indian government to see to it that open source comes in the curriculums. Of it as well as non It backgrounds. So that is the brief work I did with Digital Freedom Foundation. But then I bought by 20, 19, 20 as I said, we floated our company and then we started to do stuff which was something which I really wanted to do and that is to serve the digitally underserved in a very professional way. So that was the time when Digital. Foundation took the backseat and bookmatic was like the whole it took the entire mind share of us.

Bhaskar 

Amazing. Now I know why. Vikas adores you and Prajkta. And that brings me to the question. Like how does it Prajkta how does it feel to be the tech power couple? And one more question to you Prajkta. I’ll put this directly to Prajkta, not to you who manages the books at home?

Prajkta 

Yes, because when I started working with KK, so I started with him with New Khaata itself. Okay? And it was very new phase for me to getting salary and then managing my funds. So even I have downloaded that software and I was managing all my transactions in that. So even I used to get many queries like why this is credit? Why this is debit? No, because since I’m an engineering student so what I know is debit means we are getting and credit means everything is going out. So it’s not true in the accounting.

Bhaskar 

It’s the other way out.

Prajkta 

Yeah, it is different thing because even we get queries from our interns and our programmers who don’t know accounting because we get that message from bank when.

KK 

Money comes you say credited to your accountant after whatever debit what comes in and then the bank is saying money is credit by this contribution. So we have to tell them there are accounting rules and bank is doing it from their point of view and your point of view, blah, blah blah but as a power couple. Prajkta can also excel that. I can also excel that. But I’ll put one thing when you. You know when you have same passions, when you have a shared ambition, there are two things which happen. This is one very important tip to to young would be entrepreneurs. I have observed this personally that investors are a bit more impressed when they see a couple finding a company, because they know that there can be a positivity there. There is a positivity. And they can see that this is a double resource. And at times they can share responsibilities, at times they will argue and then convince each other. And it’s very easy to work with such a set up where there is a couple, both of them involved in the same passion and same business and. The same thing and beyond the business. It is always great. It’s like we wait. Okay, the time is finished. Now, sometimes Prajkta has to tell me Yaar bas karo abhi and sometimes I have to. Tell her and it’s beautiful, we share that positivity. So maybe Prajakata can add something to it. Since you asked that

Bhaskar 

Prajkta over to you, because I would like to one straight question today when you started, it was a different thing.

Prajkta 

Yes.

Bhaskar 

Now you guys are role models. Who manages the Khaata For whom?

Prajkta 

Certainly I manage.

Bhaskar 

Okay,

Prajkta 

KK also put some money in that.

Bhaskar 

But how much liberty does KK get to do? Finally? Who decides?

Prajkta 

Both decides. It’s not my decision or his decision, but we don’t get fights in that. But since we both like many things to do together

KK 

yeah, I was about to say that the only thing when.I do it on my own is when I have to surprise her. That’s the time when she’s certainly not aware of what’s going on. But other than that, most of the things okay, we have to go out we have to go. We both think like that and the kind of places we like to visit are also seen. So again, there is no fight the kind of hobbies we have is the same so there is again no fight.

Bhaskar 

That’s called an absolute power couple. With my wife and I, we do absolutely the opposite things. And that’s why we are together. She doesn’t do what I do, I don’t do what she does. And it’s like that. So these are two ways.

KK 

So there is a difference between a magnet and the triple in magnet always be unlike attract and the likes repeat in marriages, even the likes attract and the unlikes attract. The difficult part happens when there is no consistency. But either you have to be consistently like the way you both are, or you have to be consistently like the way we both are. If there is an interruption in that and suddenly something changes, then of course, we will have a problem. You cannot feel bit of marriage counseling.

Bhaskar 

You cannot be consistently inconsistent.

KK 

Yes, exactly.

Bhaskar 

Nice like that. Okay, so let me come back to our discussion what is OnlineKhata? Explain to me as if I don’t know anything. What is OnlineKhata? Why should I use OnlineKhata? Who should use online?

KK 

I will tell you in a nutshell. And then Prajkta them elaborate in detail. OnlineKhata is you make your bills. And your personal account and it automates. The whole process of accounting, which otherwise you would have gone to your accountant. And paid him to do this.

Bhaskar 

Think of me, say I am practitioner like, say something like I run. Give me an example, who is OnlineKhata good for service, because I am a service guy, so I can relate to it.

KK 

So service and product, because that’s also. One unique sort of content that I’ll tell you in a moment. But in general, let me tell you. Anyone who has a small business, not more than five people employed a stationary, shop, or a canteen, or a grocery store, or small cloth merchant and small gyms tuition, teachers, doctors, lawyers, consultants, what happens is they don’t know accounting and they should be using this, because if you don’t use it, what you’re doing is you are creating bills for your customers, then going to an accountant every month, because now GST is there giving those bills, getting the data entry done in accounting by the way, an accountant or an. Auditor wants that’s called vouchers, okay? Generating reports which will not even understand if I tell you. And then they will say this is correct and this is not correct, and then they will file your return so you pay for the data entry. You don’t understand anything, what’s going on. 

And then you also pay for the filing of returns, not filing of returns we cannot eliminate because that has to happen. And so one has to send the request authenticated, but the data entry part which anyways you never understand how to do it. So I have an accountant do the data and prevent or can automate this whole thing. And by the way, it is said that the rules of accounting were made even before Newton discovered gravity. Yeah. So the rules are stable. There must be something really, right? There must be something really correct. They are not used for 500 years. So we think that this is something which, you know, something can be automated completely. So as a as a service provider, another advantage is most softwares will tell you no matter your service provider or your goods trader, you know, you have to buy the entire software X, Y, Z, you cannot say Hey I am just a consultant and I don’t need inventory. They would say, no, no, you have to buy the entire package. We cannot break it off and give it to you. But OnlineKhata does that as well if  you are a service provider. You can say, I don’t want anyone to say, okay, fine, you have a separate package and the subscription model in which you only pay half the value because that take away the inventory part. That also, by the way, reduces obligation. So there are two reasons. One is for the service provider. There are two reasons that there is no inventory and one for one reason is you do your bills, we do your accounting automatically. You don’t have to know that whole thing is happening. It just happens. 

Bhaskar   

Super. So say for example, I am a mathematics teacher. Just yeah. And I kind of I kind of have 20 students that are there. And I have two teachers who are helping me. Yes. So I get on OnlineKhata because I have to get payments monthly from the parents of my students. Yes. So I can just send them an invoice they pay. Yes. And itis recorded. 

KK

And that’s it. Yeah, visit recorded but more also more thing happens. The entries which are needed for your generation of things like profit and loss and balance sheet and stuff, which accountant would have done for you and ask money for you, that is done right away. The moment you make the will those accounting entries are done in the background. So you don’t have to last minute rush 40 accountant that go okay, I have to take these bills to the accountant. Now I have to run I have to grab an accountant and get the data done and get the reports No, you don’t have to do anything, right like that.

Prajkta  

Yeah, I even you will have to pay to your buddies like, you will have to make payment for other teachers who are working with you also you have to pay the bills, office rent, etc. Okay, so that so you don’t have to know accounting knowledge. Okay, so you can deliberately make the same set of payment entries without knowing credit and debit, you just have to select to whom you have to make payment or to from whom you have to receive the payment, and just have to enter amount. And then narration if you want to and just say at the background, it will save in the credit and debit format, which is accepted by see.

KK    

I mean, imagine this, you’re a teacher, you made this bills and invoices your accountant calls up at the end of the month. Okay, send your bills and invoices to me, I have to do the data entry and generate reports and file your GST. And imagine when you say no, you don’t have to do it. I’m sending you got a report just pay my GST. That is the difference with and without online data. With online data, you just tell him “koi zarurat nahi data entry ki”. I’m sending you the reports. It’s ready. I mean, he will be like how on earth? Did you make these reports and generate these reports in the first place? The point is you never did it because the computer did it for you with online data. 

Bhaskar   

Yeah, absolutely. I mean this, I am kind of in awe of the possibilities. Because number one, I think being able to generate the bill in itself is a task, generating a bill for and then doing all that stuff. Bill is a task and the what goes behind behind the bill, to filing your returns. If you’re automating all that, without me knowing it. It’s amazing. It’s amazing. Like I don’t, I don’t think I will need to tally you my books. So great. So and at this stage, I would also like to borrow one of your quotes. If I may. 

KK   

Yes, yes. Yes. 

Bhaskar    

The court is accounting was invented before Newton discovered gravity. Yes, yes. Yeah. So I will when I will use it going forward, and I’ll quote you KK 

KK  

Sure 

Bhaskar    

Great

KK   

I’ll tell you the name of the guy. Also his name is Luca Pacioli is an Italian mathematician who invented the double bookkeeping system, the debit credit system.

Bhaskar    

But you’ve quoted it, I’ll refer everyone 

KK   

I did quote it I keep telling people because thanks to our domain expert who was with us for a long time, he actually told me Look, boss, do you know that this happened in 15, early 15th century when Luca Pacioli made these things? So I was like, Hey, what are you saying? This is long before Newton got his invention, discovery of gravity. It’s like that.

Bhaskar   

Correct. So just as you are simplifying life of a teacher, by letting them just generate invoices, and you take care of the accounting, so I take the liberty to just quote you. And if anyone asks me for the details, I’ll say ask a KK.

KK  

I have quoted this deliberately, because a lot of people came to me and said, How can you automate this because accounting is so dynamic? And I said, yes, the rules are so fixed that they have not been changed for 500 years. And I love as as good as that. So I consider that I don’t know why people didn’t realize or the perhaps the software developers never wanted to realize that this can be automated. Because, you know, before we go any ahead, people might say and I want to see this too. everyone that this might be like, you know, you’re stepping on the stomach of the accountants, you know, because they are earning is gone. The fact is their earnings will increase for a simple reason. If they had to do manual data entry and tally the books, then they would be serving X number of customers now they don’t have to do this now filing of returns they can do x plus 10 times the customer because now that time of doing the data entry, see if so they can actually take in more customers. So even they are benefiting from this

Prajkta

Yes. And as number of customers increases to chartered accountants can eventually employ more accountants under them to do this work. So,

Bhaskar  

so Prajkta and you bring us to a very great point as the number of customer increases. And that is where things like WE ARE WE WERE YOU do complicated stuff comes in. So Prajakta. KK, what’s your take on that? Like? I think you have mentioned it once, like why’d you keep telling your books of account? But I would like to kind of hear more on that, like, when customers increase How does OnlineKhata help and simplify life for me?

KK  

For you as an accountant?

Bhaskar

No, no, for the business owners?

KK 

Oh. We have deliberately made a choice not to make an ERP, I mean, the investment?

Bhaskar  

difference, if I’m a large business, can I use it? If I’m large in the sense large in the parameter of small business there are large and small, like, yes, yeah, there’s no absolute cutoff over this. 

KK  

Yes. That’s the reason I, when I said this, I was very particular that people who have not more than four or five employees in their shops or in their Institute’s or in their businesses, because we don’t have an HR module, we don’t have a payroll module, which actually in a way we are trying to modularize and have it like a challenge period is fine to do, we will be doing it in the due course of next year. But we don’t want to have complex stuff like production planning, and, you know, stock reconciliation and stuff like that we are not getting into it, because there are already enough products doing it, and they’re doing it pretty well. So I don’t I mean, one thing is, why should I go in their own route, they are more ahead of us, and they are much better than us in that. So that will be lost to us and a strategic mistake. And second thing, they don’t want to come down to our level and actually help the micro and small businesses, you know, in the way we are helping, so when the customers will increase, you know, one thing is there, we are just starting an aggregation service also. So what we want to do, a lot of customers was kind of come to us and they’re very happy about our software, the only I can say something between a complaint and a request is now that you have automated our accounting process and you’re going to an accountant with the ready made reports to file returns, why don’t you give us accountants as well, like, we would ideally love to just make the bills and forget about it, we don’t even want to take the reports and go to the accountant. So honoring request which has come from a lot of customers, we are now actually also partnering with accounting firms. And also giving that because we cannot legally give accounting service, we are not practitioners in accounting. So we are partnering with accounting firms. And we will be assigning accountants to our customers and say, Okay, now now your your bills, and that’s it, we will, we are not just automating your accounting, but we will also take care of your auditing and that will be almost near zero user intervention. And the other way around, also we tell accountants that you have a lot of customers, we can reduce your word go and tell them to use online data because then you will get the reports ready but you don’t have to do anything and they will be very happy to pay less to you and you will be very happy to serve more customers so it’s a two way aggregation we are we are just starting now.

Bhaskar   

Wow, you are just expanding the market both ways like adding more customers and adding more services for those customers so that you monetize OnlineKhata

KK   

and as Prajkta loves to see we are also creating employment as a result.

Bhaskar    

Yeah, that’s that’s that’s, that’s amazing. So so on that on that note. Would you like to share some customer stories like I mean, something that has wowed you. As in you’ve been doing this for some some

Prajkta    

so I would like to share three stories with you. So first story is regarding service industry. So we We have one customer who has a traveling business. So, I think they use they use some software’s to book tickets and they get they get this bookings from the many customers for international and national trips. Okay. So the company name is a Travel Point, okay, so what happens, you know, the they have 10 plus employees in their company to handle all all different kinds of stuff, but the owner itself makes this invoicing and billing and he doesn’t know about much about this credit and debit rules of accounting. So, what happened you know, so, when he came, he talked to our sales executive. So, that time he was telling her the same thing which we are solving. So he started to use the software and one fine day he just called our sales executive Vermis Preeti and she said Arre idhar toh mujhe kuch nhi karna padh rha hai, mai to sirf invoicing kr raha hu or aapka reports toh aa rhe hai . Matlab mai apne chart directly jakr CA ko du  So we said yes, you just export those in spreadsheet or printable format in whichever format you want or give a message. Say, submit it to your CA otherwise you can always give auditor access to your account to your auditor. Okay, so we have an internal auditor account facility as well access facility sorry. So, you just gave this our Del Sol reports created by Cohn and his ca was so happy that you’re the first customer who came up with proper data. So, this was a really success story for us and it was really a we were very happy thatCA the yes someone had understood it, okay, then the next story is with the product company, so, he distributes chemicals to this chemical to colleges and laboratories. So, he’s a trader and he is the only person who works in his company, okay. So, he has to handle everything and handling as you say like making bill is also a task okay. So, you have to add your customers then you have to add your products then you have to maintain the taxes accounts and whatnot. So, what happened you know, so, he had come this not this year, I think last year in the September so, so, he came to us knowing that the accounting entries will be done automatically in the software. Firstly, he was not accepting that only So, it was like no, ye nahi ho sakta hai I have used so many software’s in the past 10 to 15 years, but ye nahi ho sakta hai. So I gave him one month of trial period. Our customers executive showed her how it happens how software takes care of all those things like an Uska to feedback alag hi tha, arre aapka to billing itna acha hai, toh ye mujhe to dekhna ka zarurat nahi hai billing is also a task ki logo ko samjah m nahi aa rha hai so even he’s very happy same thing happened with him. He also went to his auditor with all the data and his auditor was very happy that array is time you did not bring invoices to me you directly bring you directly brought

KK  

Yeah, Kaha se seekha aapne ye karne k liye He said ye maine seekha nahi software kardeta h, maan lia. The guy was saying ki aisa ho hi nahi sakta hai Sorry. Now, I realized that I had still less knowledge about software’s which possibility so to speak.

Prajkta    

And third story is so interesting. It is about accessibility. So we have our whenever we develop any feature, so we make sure that the feature is 99.99% accessible to the user who are visually impaired. So we are very strict about it even when we take interviews of programmers or software testers UI designer, interns, also we for the last question, because if we ask them at the first they’re going to be rejected at that time, okay. So First, at last, we asked him about the accessibility part as well. So we ensure that the online carta is totally accessible for visually impaired persons. So one of our friend and he’s KK’s. Student as well. So he started his business. I think he can last year. Yes, yeah, he started his business off the school depressed or so when, first or two months they handle the this invoicing and billing part by himself only. But as customer number increases, see, he wanted to use some software. So he came to us and he was asking us which software to use and so for so he did not listen to us first. So he went to many software’s and the last result was those were not accessible. But the on the letter he accepted OnlineKhata for invoicing and billing because it is it it is totally accessible. So he’s totally blind. But yeah, he’s he’s also totally visually impaired. So now he is also using Yes. Also, he doesn’t understand accounting knowledge. So he he makes invoices and cash memos and debit credit note what not other documents from OnlineKhata and he’s running his business happy. So this is also a milestone which we have reached. And we have many,

KK  

one funny incident happened Prajkta as a doctor who visit and he never knew what we were doing. But we told him that we are into accounting software use immediately like yaar ye accountant log mujhse 30k-40k saal ka kyun lete hai. So I realized the opportunity, I said, Look, that’s exactly what I can prevent if you use my software. So I told him that they do it because they do your data entry, right? The credit debit stuff and all and you don’t have the knowledge they said yes, I said that they are now to charge you for their service. Like acha aisa hai. Mai bola nahi aisa nahi hai. Actually, you take OnlineKhata that work is automated and you end up paying me 2000 rupees per year. Even like okay, I’m your customer. That’s it.

Bhaskar    

Super, I love love all these stories from the travel agent to the guy doing chemicals and chemical things and the the cold press. Yes, not. So there is everyone? I mean, I think I will maybe take the liberty to quote you. KK you in one of our meetings, you said that toll is something everyone has to pay. Yes. But but then everyone is reluctant. And there comes in the tag automating I think, and this is your code. This is not my code. Yeah. And, and definitely it makes a lot a lot of sense right now. Because the way you guys are improving things for small businesses on the accounting side is phenomenonal.

KK   

It’s a sugar coated because you are ill there is a medicine to be taken. It’s bitter. So that goes on the last priority nai yaar nahi lete hai kadwi hai and we you know, but if I caught it with sugar, or it will make mango flavor or something, you’re apparently going to take it so that fast tag is also same thing. No one wants to pay but apparently you have to pay so it goes on a backseat. So what you do you better automated, you know, so So that’s exactly what we’re doing. Let’s accept no one wants to pay taxes, everyone is about saving it. So anyways, it’s a thing which you do at the last minute rush recognize. So better take the at least if you can’t prevent it at least take the trouble away. And we shouldn’t be preventing it. Country has to progress. You have to pay taxes. But let’s make it easy by not letting you go for last minute rush and giving your documents to the accountant and getting it done. And you know, and as you said even billing to be made so easy. That is our whole thing of inclusivity and serving the digital underserved.

Prajkta  

Also, we will be launching mobile app in the next week.

Bhaskar 

Yeah, wow. Yeah, this is happening. You may want to announce that project. Please go ahead. Talk about this.

Bhaskar 

Yeah, so hi guys, we are launching mobile application for OnlineKhata. It will be free to download and free to use as well not to only download and you can make your invoices, bills. You can manage your receipts payments in one app only and you can add as many companies as you want like if you’re a CA or if your accountant. You are managing others account, you are helping others to manage so many businesses. Yeah. So you can make invoicing accounting entries from the OnlineKhata mobile application it is Android application, and you will be getting reports ready, and you can just share it with your friends and auditors.

Bhaskar    

Great, this is this is awesome. So I think you guys are a power couple. You guys are an inclusive couple. So I I don’t know how to kind of address you. Right. So the year so so so and

KK    

of course we are loving couples. 

Bhaskar    

You are loving couple. 

KK    

Because power, inclusiveness is fine. But at the end of the dates, it’s love that keeps you know, binded

Bhaskar  

that’s your power loving, inclusive, visionary and funny couples. Is does that kind of put you in the right bracket? Yeah,

KK    

I think it’s a big bracket. So many words.

Bhaskar    

So just before we end, I will have five questions. Yeah. With short answers, like one one line answers. Okay. All one word answers if, if that’s okay with you? Can we go ahead?

KK   

Yes. Okay.

Bhaskar   

So what are your expectations from your future customers,

KK   

future customers are going to actually use more of a mobile app. And they will want to do a lot more on the mobile rather than on the laptops and desktops. And they would expect us to give accounting services as well, which we are giving them.

Bhaskar   

Awesome. As a business couple. Where do you see your product in the next 10 years?

Prajkta

10 years is a long period. So I as a software engineer, actually there must be artificial intelligence, who will be handling all these things?

Bhaskar 

 Okay.

KK  

Mera Bill Banado. Hogya. That’s it if he says that the bill should be ready. Yeah. And and also analysis of the data and according to the rules, which government may change, we would also want to have complete blockchain system wherein things are verified in a way to change.

Bhaskar   

Thank you, as a problem solver, couple. What Where do you see? What problems are you trying to solve in the next 10 years, and you may try to change because you can solve problems in six months that I think take 10 years.

KK   

To be very frank, to be very frank, the one of one of the biggest problems we see forget about OnlineKhata all is to make people realize that they can realize things and get their dreams working. So I’m also a mentor. And by the way, you call this power couple. The thing is, we have another company called mentor price, which itself is for that and 10 years down the line, we see that we will be mentoring a lot of people to get enterprise ready, especially from the technology field or could be startup entrepreneurs, because the arena is changing fast. And there’s a lot more to just giving courses. So I call it I don’t say I give courses I say that I share my journey with the our, you know, mentees and make them enterprise ready. So we both want to do this a lot, a lot more than what we are doing now. Right? Yes.

Bhaskar 

You guys are role model for the generation and including me. And who was your role model?

KK  

Okay, project, I will tell the verse For me it was Homi Bhabha, and Rajiv Gandhi and Dr. Jenn Manjrekar. And of course, Steven Hawkins.

Prajkta  

For me, my role model is Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam. Then Zakir Hussain

Bhaskar   

Zakir Hussain interesting I will connect with you separately on that. So, so we today, the generation wants to have some hacks like productivity hacks, how do I make my day more productive? What is your hack?

KK  

Our hack is the biggest hack we can tell people is an IT has been told so many times but I cannot emphasize enough please do Don’t be a Superman, okay? Have some money and delegate work to people who really can do it because I cannot be master no matter how great a role model I am today, or whatever products or or technologies are developed, marketing is not my cup of tea selling is not my cup of tea. So don’t be Superman into everything, have people do it for you either outsource or in house, that is the best productivity hack I can give whatever transaction

Prajkta  

So mine is, Don’t Stop, if you have started anything, like a start up entrepreneurship, or if even if you’re working somewhere, so don’t stop, just try to get doing it at any at any pace or at impossible to stop.

KK  

Going down is fine. Yes,

Prajkta  

slowing down is fine. But don’t stop. Like if you don’t have funds. If you don’t have time, then take one or two days to think on it and just start with

KK   

I really can’t agree more on this with her. I will add that you will take take loan if you would. But don’t stop your work at any cost

Prajkta

if you’re not getting good time from your saturdayfizing.

Bhaskar  

So before the fifth question, I just want to take a pause and say share my experience because I’m apart from being everything I’m also runner that’s when you are running distances like 100 kilometers or 50 kilometers or 200 kilometers. There comes a time that you are low and have been through so many times and what Prajkta just said it. It is also so valid over there you don’t just stop just keep going and it hurts. Your body hurts your body feels like you’re dead, but you have to keep doing it. So thank you and the last question now are you social or not? unsocial? Do you want people listening to this podcast? We want people viewing this video to reach out to you. Please call out your social handles, we will of course share them. Yeah, if you are willing. So how should we reach out to you? 

KK  

Basically, we both are on LinkedIn and Facebook, Twitter often, some accessibility issues have happened so I was not active but I’m planning to be but I’m very much there on LinkedIn and Facebook. Besides that, of course I have my own Instagram handle but it’s not about OnlineKhata one Instagram handle is about Mentor Price. The company which I have started to mentor people and another Instagram handle is there where I do my musical stuff because I did not see this I am a trained classical singer as well. So and I do play instruments and also that is there. So yes, we are there Prajkta can you give the handles maybe?

Prajkta 

Yeah, even I’m there on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, both are on all platforms.

Bhaskar 

So guys, if you are listening to this will share their handles to reach out to Prajkta and KK and KK, I’ve missed out on that. We’ll have another session about your musical.

KK  

Yeah, sure. That is one of the things which I was talking about. We have similar hobbies we absolutely have similar hobbies. We both are avid classical music lovers. We do meet classical artists and take autographs on by the way, we are collectors of old vinyl records and we do play them every day. We listen to analog music even today.

Bhaskar   

Oh Do you? 

KK 

Yeah. 

Bhaskar

Okay, so I may have a gift for you. 

KK  

Oh, wow. You made my day and her day as well. Okay, well,

Bhaskar 

okay, thank you so much Prajkta and KK for making time for this session. And thank you so much. Yeah,

KK   

okay. Thanks. Good. Yeah, thank you.

Prajkta  

Thank you Bhaskar