MerryBiz is a Tokyo-based startup that provides a crowdsourced bookkeeping service for companies. The company announced today it has renewed its service line-up and rolled out a web interface. Coinciding with this, the company has rebranded its name from Libv K.K. to MerryBiz Inc.
MerryBiz was launched in October 2012 and fundraised 55 million yen ($550,000) from Mitsui Sumitomo Insuarance Venture Capital in May. In their previous service, until today, when you mailed a portion of receipts for company expenses to the company, they subsequently e-mailed back a list of expense records in your preferred file format, such as Excel, CSV, or importable formats for other online accounting platforms like MoneyForward. With the launch of the new web app this time around, you can download these files any time you want, as well as browse scanned images of recorded receipts especially when you, or your accountant, need to confirm evidence for any company expenses you have paid.
We’ve seen several startups providing a similar function in this space, such as Dr. Wallet‘s “Receipt Bin” (crowdsourced bookeeping service) or CrowdCast (improving efficiency accounting tasks by a mobile receipt-scanning app). So what’s the advantage of MerryBiz? In a response to this question, the company’s founder and CEO Hiroki Kudo explained:
For those who are less familiar with bookkeeping, the categorization process of expenses is quite difficult. So we hired certified public accountants with over three years of experience in this field as our crowdsourced workers. We can also accept your requests that are unique to your company, such as a certain type of expense for dining with someone that should be categorized as a meeting expense.
Online accounting platforms like Freee or MoneyForward are becoming popular in the Japanese startup scene. But we understand that MerryBiz will not provide accounting services but will be more focused on bookkeeping services by converting paper-based receipts to digital records. That’s why MerryBiz’s new web app allows you to download files in formats for other Japanese major accounting platforms like MoneyForward, Yayoi Kaikei, and Kaikeio. In the future, I think MerryBiz may introduce an API (application program interface) for integrating with other online services, which will not require you to import or export data files.
The company expects certified public accountant offices to also encourage their clients to use the MerryBiz platform. Kudo told us about this:
Since the accountant market is becoming saturated in Japan, they are very conscious about their competitiveness. New and small accountant offices may be our potential competitors, because they need to receive any tasks including bookkeeping from their clients.
However, mature accountant offices want to provide more value-added services for their clients, so they are likely to outsource bookkeeping operations. Our platform allows them to browse scanned images of receipts as expense evidences of their clients. We’ve been earning a good reputation from accountant offices that are using our service.
The company can improve the routine of their crowdsourced operations with the launch of the new app, which has enabled them to change its pricing to three types of monthly flat rate plans. The plan depends on how many expense records you request for bookkeeping in a month.
I’ve known Kudo for some time. But I realized in the interview that they had not been providing a web interface or mobile app to date. What we can learn from this is that not all tech startups have to have their web interface or mobile app for their business. Especially for B2B services, you can decide not to start developing a web interface or mobile app until your work flow is well streamlined and users validate your service, which greatly helps you to not increase the burn rate.
The launch of the web interface this time around will enable them to partner and integrate with other platforms and may bring them huge business potential.