I’m especially fond of business ideas formed by real people, in the trenches, in real jobs, trying to solve real problems that immediately affect them. Seeing that the idea could benefit others and turn a profit as a startup at the same time makes it all the better. I don’t know, it just seems less sterile than a fleet of Ivy League MBAs building a business model around pure data crunching (also a viable and historically successful method too, I should add).
There’s a certain Cinderella mystique around four Ohio accountants, who, not wanting to waste valuable time calling and re-calling their clients on the phone to remind them of needed tax documents, came up with an idea for a better mouse trap…a document reminder service to do that work for them.
Enter Sqrl, which is launching today.
To restate the problem Sqrl solves (in case you are not a CPA):
“Accountants and other professional knowledge workers spend as much as 25% of their time manually creating, tracking, following up on and processing requests for essential client information. Sqrl (pronounced “squirrel”) solves the problem of lost time and profitability with a request engine that automates and manages routine communication and requests. It effectively eliminates the need to ever follow up.”
So basically, it’s a service you can pay for as an accountant, that reminds your individual clients of every file they need to provide to you. It also includes a mechanism for uploading and delivering those files to you. Only after all of the necessary files are delivered are you — the accountant — notified that you are ready to begin working on that specific client job.
Sqrl was conceived as an internal solution by founders Ryan Watson, Ryan Baker and Craig Baldwin, for their online accounting firm, Upsourced Accounting. After going through The Brandery accelerator in Cincinnati and hooking up with developers Zack Brown and Drew Miller to spin up the startup, they secured $550,000 from CincyTech, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and Vine Street Ventures.
The basic feature set of Sqrl will be offered to users free of charge. There are multi user plans which will eventually contain premium features, such as white labeled notifications, customized security, and team collaboration.
The service is targeted at small and regional accounting firms, but could scale to any profession managing lots of documents on behalf of clients (advertising agencies, legal firms, financial advisors). It’s a good idea, and I could see this catching on.