Entrepreneur

This S'pore Startup Built A Chatbot To Help With Admin Matters Like Biz Registration And Tax Filing

Starting a business can be overwhelming, especially when you have to do everything yourself – from registering the company to accounting to payroll.

Here’s where tech solutions come in.

You can now register your company online, and there are plenty of software and tools out there to help you manage your expenses, claims, and employees’ leaves.

But that sounds like a lot of open tabs and applications just to get the company up and running.

So this startup in Singapore helps you do all of that – and all you need to do is send them a text.

Make Starting A Business Osome

accountant service singapore
Victor Lysenko, Konstantin Lange, Lisa Chan (bottom row, right to left, respectively) and the Osome team / Image Credit: Osome

Victor Lysenko is the CEO and founder of Osome, an administration and secretarial services company based in Singapore.

The founding team consists of Konstantin Lange, who is the Chief Operations Officer, and Lisa Chan, who leads customer relations.

The Russian-born entrepreneur is no stranger when it comes to starting businesses – after all, he founded Groupon Russia and Rocketbank.

“As a serial entrepreneur, I know that when launching a business you want to focus on the essentials – your team, your clients, and your product,” he shared.

“Everything else you (should) desperately want to outsource, but outsource in a smart way. Your counterpart should be reliable and convenient. Ultimately, you want all the headache to disappear by texting the paperwork away — and be confident that it’ll be taken care of.”

His passion lies in creating “really cool products” that focus on providing a great user experience, one that they would in turn recommend to their friends.

He then saw the potential to improve the way entrepreneurs launch and manage their businesses.

So, they started working on the idea last year, and the Osome app was launched in Singapore in January 2018.

They invested a little over USD$1 million to start up.

In seven months, they have accumulated 300 clients – a number Victor thinks is “quite a big number for this industry… in such a short period of time.”

Wasting Time Is Not O-Right

accountant service singapore
Screenshot of the Osome app / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Victor described Osome as a time-saving service for anyone who wants to manage their business efficiently. Their key products are incorporation, secretarial services, accounting, and payroll.

At first glance, the app looks like any messenger app with a chatbot.

To a layman like me, it feels like a text adventure mobile game, except that instead of picking the narratives of the story, the user creates a company or files their taxes.

We believe that these services should not take up an entrepreneur’s time, so instead of setting up meetings, making calls and dealing with paperwork, you can just text Osome.

“And you do it when it’s convenient for you — in the evening or on a weekend, we’re available 24/7 and we usually respond within 15 minutes.”

He explained that Osome is for anyone who wants to save time going to an office, or setting up a meeting with a person.

Initially, they thought their product would appeal more to people in the tech industry, but only 25% of their customers were tech companies.

“In reality, we’re attracting people that prefer convenience and value their time. Entrepreneurs find it efficient to text their employees, text their partners — and they enjoy texting us as well,” he quipped.

“Turns out there are people like that in every industry and every age group.”

The record time to incorporate a company using Osome is 38 minutes, and they are aiming to do that within 15 minutes by the end of 2018.

The bulk of their requests happen in the evenings and on weekends, according to Victor.

“We once helped set up a company for an entrepreneur who came to us 14 minutes into Chinese New Year,” he recounted.

The O-Mighty Technology

accountant service singapore
Screenshot of the Osome app / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Doing everything online is convenient, and complemented with technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI), processes become much more concise.

Victor explained that there isn’t a “single box solution” for what they do at Osome because they serve a multitude of business and Human Resources needs.

“Our core competence however is to make sure we combine artificial and human intelligence in a most efficient and seamless way,” he added.

To achieve that, they created a system with three layers.

“First is a set of task-specific solutions like Xero. Second consists of AI-powered automation tools and robots that dramatically increase the productivity of our people,” he stated.

“Third one is a messaging interface that is available to our users via app and will be available online in the nearest future.”

accountant service singapore
Screenshot of the Osome app / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Each time users send a message or process a document, the bots get better, Victor said.

Robots perform mundane tasks, humans add value and provide insights, and customers enjoy smooth experience and reasonable fares.

Reasonable fares look like a flat fee of S$1,100 for an Incorporation, Secretary and Accounting package.

But if you’re just looking for a one-off Incorporation service, it’s priced at S$350; for Secretarial Services for one year, it’s S$300.

Victor noted that when it came to determining their prices, it was important they do not charge any hidden fees.

“[We] don’t charge for additional resolutions, or government fees, or else. You just get a package for a fixed price and you know you’re all set,” he said.

“Our clients tell us they hate to be charged another S$100 for a trivial resolution when they already paid for a secretary service. We think it’s unfair too, so we do not charge for this.”

Enjoying Osome Growth

accountant service singapore
Screenshot of the Osome app / Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Victor told me the company is currently growing at 30% a month, which puts “incredible pressure on the team”.

They are looking to hire people who are “highly qualified professionals” and are also passionate in providing great customer experience.

“It’s very challenging to maintain this growth when our hiring policies are so strict,” he quipped.

If we keep this dynamic, we’ll have over 1,000 clients by the end of the year. That means a revenue run rate of over a $1 million annually.

Osome ultimately wants to provide small companies easy, online access to quality administrative services, Victor shared, so they can use the time they saved on tedious paperwork to nurture their business.

He pointed out that the industry also needed to be modernised.

“It’s a pity that in Singapore, which is probably the best place in the world to start a business, administrative services still look the same way they did in the last century,” he noted.

“Every other part has made such a huge leap forward and yet this one is lagging behind. We live in a better, faster, more convenient world, where everything like getting a cab to Changi Airport takes just a few taps on your smartphone.”

“Taxes or invoices should be no different,” he added.

Victor believes that most of their future customers will come from the customers they serve today, and word-of-mouth is an important part of their strategy.

“This helps us save tons of money on marketing and keep the prices low — even now about 20% of our customer base is driven by referrals,” he revealed.

Their aim is to provide a user experience so good, clients would say: “Try them, they’re Osome!”

Osome plans to expand beyond Singapore, naming Australia and Hong Kong to be their next markets.

The seven-month-old tech company’s goal is to celebrate New Year with 1,000 customers and to be one of the top 20 companies in the field.

Download Osome for iOS here and Android here.

Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post

 

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