Unclear travel expense policies, poor expense visibility, and delayed employee reimbursements, are some of the many factors that make expense management for both the employees and the HR or the operations team challenging.
Managing expenses effectively can be tricky, especially if companies are still using outdated or inefficient systems. Various tech-based solutions have now enabled organizations to automate the expense management process and make it more organized.
Today, there are many apps like Fyle, Sutiexpense, Zoho Expense, Finly, Expensify and Certify, among others that help companies automate their expense management process.
We spoke to the CEO and Co-founder of one of these startups, Fyle and learnt from him how technology can be leveraged to ensure effective management processes. In an interaction with Yash Madhusudhan, CEO and Co-founder Fyle we gained more knowledge about the entire journey of the Bengaluru-based startup.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
What triggered you to start Fyle? Can you share the story of Fyle from ideation to launch?
Before founding Fyle, I was an engineer turned SaaS sales professional, which meant I spent a lot of time on the road. It was during those years at work that I experienced how tedious the task of managing expenses is.
A lot of time would go by in submitting my travel expenses. In fact, I used to spend my Sundays sorting between personal and professional expenses, trying to find misplaced receipts and uploading them to the expense report.
Fyle was hence, born out of my own personal frustration and sense of mission to build something that actually meets employee needs as well makes the work of the employers easier.
Employee reimbursement is the second largest expense for companies, yet little to no innovation has taken place in the past two decades when it comes to expense management technology. Today, a significant portion of business spend happens online. Whether it’s transportation receipts or a software subscription invoice, email has become the default storer of receipts.
Together with my co-founder, we set out to design a “Pinterest for expense management” that would improve the overall employee experience, as well as help incentivize workers to more easily adopt the solution and submit expense reports on time, which in turn would improve business cash flows, as well as promote corporate compliance enforcement.
How does Fyle make it easier for employees to track receipts and submit expense reports?
Replacing manual expense reporting such as receipt-scanning apps or extensions with web-clippers for taking screenshots of an email, we designed the Fyle expense management solution with AI-powered extensions that provide industry-first expense reporting and real-time compliance directly inside Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365.
For paper receipts, machine vision algorithms automatically extract expense data and auto-fills information for automatically reporting the expense, such as currency, amount and merchant.
How has the journey been for you so far? How has the traction increased over the years?
We have always worked towards building a company that solves global problems.
We began building the Fyle expense management software product based on the requirements of a few select customers, hyper-focused on making them successful. It was important for us to validate our initial hypothesis, to design an application centered around the employee experience, thereby optimizing adoption and, as a result, solving companies’ objectives of improved cost efficiency, compliance and better control.
We expanded our sales internationally five months ago and are now serving more than 250 customers across seven countries.
Global sales already account for more than 35 percent of our revenue and we are investing heavily in further expansion, including building out our team in the U.S.
How much venture funding have you raised till now and from whom?
Backed by investors including Tiger Global Management, Pravega Ventures and Freshworks, we have raised a total of $5.9 Mn to date.
What differentiates Fyle from competitors that offer similar solutions?
We are aware and mindful of the competition that is out there. Hence, we continuously work on innovating our solutions.
For instance, we went beyond the existing tools, and built an industry-first AI-powered expense management solution for email, allowing users to automatically report expenses from emailed receipts with one click directly from Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365. Available on mobile and desktop, Fyle’s cloud-based expense management platform includes many features. Besides an email plugin, some of the other services it provides are electronic and paper receipts, real-time policy compliance, approval automation and digital audit trail, and seamless integration.
Additionally to enable the management, HR and the employees take better expense related decisions for the future we also focus on analytics and insights. The platform reports are generated to harness insight on employee spending trends and overall expense categories.
What further disruptions do you foresee in the expense management space? How are you preparing for them?
Traditionally, expense management has been treated as a workflow problem, putting the onus on the employee to exercise discipline by tracking expenses. Instead, we foresee a future where AI automates the process and does most of the heavy lifting, whether in terms of discovering spend, organizing spend or reporting it.
Another future we foresee is that of invisible apps, which means the application functionality is blended into software already in use such that the focus can be put on delivering a great experience inside applications that users are already comfortable with.
The next wave of digital disruption will be led by companies that power this type of innovation by using the best combination of API-first and AI-led approaches.
Fyle is at the forefront of that evolution and we continue to invest in product innovation and modeling to ensure that users don’t ever have to think about tracking expenses — it should just happen.
What are your future plans as far as product and expansion are concerned?
We are investing a lot in creating a new experience that users don’t yet know they need, but once they experience it, they will not be able to live without. Further, we are building AI solutions for not only expense tracking purposes, but also to check and manage policies, fraud and duplicates.
We are also investing in some exciting partnerships across different ecosystems to enable new business application areas.