Founded in January 2019, Khatabook has become India's leading business management app for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). It helps the entire MSME ecosystem - be it retailers, wholesalers, distributors, or manufacturers - to digitize their bookkeeping and accept digital payments.
Available in multiple regional languages, Khatabook’s product Biz Analyst has reached over 100,000 paying customers, a testament to the problem-solving capabilities of their platform. With a $100mn Series C funding in August 2021, it is one of the fastest-growing startups disbursing financial services for MSMEs and driving digital adoption in the hinterlands of India.
Over time their sales journeys started becoming complex with multiple sales channels, processes, teams, and touchpoints involved. Information related to leads, subscription amounts, discounts, time of purchase, length of subscription, etc., resided in different databases.
“We needed all the information in one place to analyze how the lead had transformed and to map that journey till the end,” says Kirti Chug, Software Development Engineer (SDE 2) at Khatabook.
Khatabook’s purchase of a SaaS product to maintain leads was unsuccessful because of data and information gaps. Kirti says, “We wanted to build something in-house for managing leads. It became a priority for us to have total control over the datasets to avoid any potential inconsistencies when using third-party services.” They needed to connect different data sources and make them talk to each other in real time to have one source of truth.
Around the same time, they were also facing usage challenges with another tool they had bought for their on-field sales staff. “Our field sales staff are tasked with pitching Khatabook to merchants and have to show them how things work. When the leads close, they must collect and upload documents from merchants. They were finding it hard to use the SaaS product. They would end up using Excel to upload documents. We were using only 10%-20% of the features of the product that we were paying for!” says Kirti.
Khatabook needed to build a unified, custom solution to tackle all these problems but building from scratch was not an option. “It became clear that we needed an application - a web dashboard with an integrated backend, and an Android app (for field staff). For this, we would have hired an Android engineer and a frontend engineer whose talents would be underutilized. Our existing team of backend engineers didn’t have enough bandwidth to spend time learning the frontend. There is no bandwidth for internal tools; everything is user-focussed as it should be!” says Kirti.
They chose Appsmith to solve this and built two applications for this entire use case.
1. A mobile application (an Android APK — launching a web view in Android). The on-field team uses this to fill in user (merchant) information, upload documents and photos of the merchant stores, and create the lead.
2. The second application is a web dashboard used by the managers of the on-field staff and by telecallers. Managers can view converted leads and the location of lead creation; assign leads to field agents; and collect documents, addresses, etc. They can also add leads, include information about distribution, and bulk upload it onto the system.
Using this dashboard, telecallers can reach out to users as well. All the updates by the telecallers can be seen by the field agents, and city managers can supervise the overall process.
All these tasks were earlier managed on different systems. With these new internal tools, Kirti says, “our background processes are now clear, and all the details from our product can be fetched and updated along with important information related to a lead or user.” She adds,
“With Appsmith, we focussed on the backend design and relied heavily on the tool for the frontend. We were able to launch the applications in one month! This would have otherwise taken us at least 3+ months.”
Appsmith has helped Khatabook cut down all the noise their teams had to constantly wade through and allowed them to focus, enhancing their efficiency and helping them sell more. “As Khatabook expands its offerings, what we’ve created with Appsmith can be duplicated and easily developed for the new business and product use cases,” says Kirti.