Southeast Asia’s (SEA) internet economy is set to reach US$1 trillion by 2030, and Singapore is in the front row seat of this growth.
This may not be a surprise as the country has been a vibrant trading and finance hub since its colonial days in the 1800s. Today, Singapore is a financial hub managing assets worth S$4.7 trillion (US$3.5 trillion).
The exuberant Southeast Asian tiger economy is now also rapidly emerging as the financial hub in Asia, in lieu of Hong Kong, with nearly 40 per cent of SEA fintech firms based here.
This flourishing jewel of SEA and its long history of being a leading finance hub has its drawbacks too. Due to legacy issues, oftentimes, many business processes like company registration and tax and compliance filings are manual.
The pandemic has also proven it to be an even more tiresome duty for entrepreneurs to process admin documents and manage their accounting manually.
These days, you might show up at a bank or accounting firm and the dedicated personnel to handle your documents might not even be working from the office. The frustrations of meeting physically and arranging for documents to be signed makes it difficult for business owners to run their show efficiently.
Like many other SME owners before them, entrepreneurs Julien Labruyere and Adrien Barthel experienced the pain points of business admin work early on when they arrived in Singapore a few years ago.
They wanted to start and register their own startup but while undergoing this process, they grew frustrated at the almost snail-like speed some traditional corporate secretaries and accounting firms dealt with their paperwork.
The paperwork pain led them to realise that there was a need for a better workflow for businesses that wish to set up and operate here. This was an opportunity to solve and potentially serve the 60,000 new enterprises that set up shop in Singapore each year.
“Starting a business shouldn’t be frustrating and complex. Thus, we started developing an all-in-one digital solution to solve this issue,” said Julien, CEO and co-founder of SME services platform Sleek.
How Sleek helps companies solve their pain points
In 2017, the entrepreneurs launched Sleek, a Singapore-based company that provides a digital-first and paperless service.
Sleek aims to tackle the problems businesses face — time-consuming administrative work, accounting tasks, and the lack of transparency or oversight in their expenses to prepare their monthly budgets.
Thus, the all-in-one platform was born, where entrepreneurs and investors can register their company, manage their governance, accounting, and even tax compliance under one roof conveniently; all of which can be done digitally without the need to head down to a physical office.
Four years on, Sleek has helped more than 5,000 startups to onboard in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia.
It has built its clientele to consist of small business owners, founders, entrepreneurs, and investors. As of last year, its clients generated a combined revenue of S$700 million, representing a total of 1.4 million bookkeeping transactions processed by Sleek.
On why companies go to Sleek for its digital solutions, Julien said: “Traditional corporate secretaries and accounting firms moved at pedestrian speed and are outdated in their offerings, creating many roadblocks in a business journey. When entrepreneurs come to Sleek, they can digitise everything: from the start of your company, to business accounts, and even accounting.”
“We are the only company in Singapore that provides a business’ entire ecosystem of administrative needs,” he added.
From an idea to your first sale in a day
Sleek’s services are there for firms from day one of setting up shop (company incorporation) to the running of daily business operations (accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes).
Business owners can register their company digitally by simply filling out the online form and uploading the necessary documentation on the Sleek website.
For example, if you have a new company that wishes to set up in Singapore, you just need to sign up with Sleek and let it take over as your “personal assistant”. It will do the following — check and reserve a company name, prepare documents like registration forms, ACRA filing, and compliance forms.
It will also help to arrange a resolution to open a bank account for your new company.
Sleek also has a business account that provides customers the service of receiving and sending payments.
Once your company is set up, Sleek will continue to support the company’s operational needs, including managing unaudited financial statements, bookkeeping, expense claims, Central Provident Funds (CPF), and all your annual filing requirements.
Sleek offers services at flexible and transparent price plans. A check on its website revealed that it was easy to find rates. For instance, to request for a company incorporation service, new companies only need to pay S$35 (excluding government fees).
The plans are also tailored to meet the varying needs of businesses regardless of their industry, size, and number of stakeholders, according to Julien.
“We take a customer-centric and bespoke approach in catering to our clients’ needs. There are no hidden fees or costs in our services. Everything is upfront and explained in detail to ensure that their business journey is as smooth as possible,” he said.
Sleek also provides bookkeeping services for business owners to compile their receipts easily. Users just need to snap a picture of their receipt via its WhatsApp channel and its bot will digitally record your expenses through artificial intelligence capabilities.
Beyond the day-to-day, the digital solutions platform offers corporate secretarial services and governance like the preparation and filing of annual returns, as well as visa packages.
Sleek also provides business insurance advice and solutions to cover inherent risks that any business will have, such as product liability, professional indemnity, cyber and more.
The all-encompassing business service provider goes a step further by making it hassle-free for business owners when it comes to signing off documents.
Sleek taps on its legally binding electronic signature tool, SleekSign, a technology developed by the company and released for free, to allow business owners to sign documents like consumer agreements, human resource agreements, and even IP license documents.
Customers don’t need to search high and low for documents to process their applications too, as all their important documents are on the cloud and they can access them anytime, anywhere.
New free Sleek Business Account launched
To cater to customers’ needs in a post-pandemic world, Sleek has launched its latest solution, Sleek Business Account.
With Sleek Business Account, companies can now open a free business account with no initial deposit and minimum balance. They also don’t need to leave the comfort of their homes, or workplace, as they do not need to physically travel to the bank.
The service is provided free of charge to all Sleek clients in Singapore who are using any of its current services.
In a usual scenario, Singapore-based clients have to visit a bank branch to set up a business account and that process usually takes weeks before approval and involves clients duplicating the know-your-customer (KYC) process and documents. Traditional banks usually charge S$1,000 or up to S$5,000 of the initial deposit too.
For new companies who are seeking to onboard with Sleek and get their business account at the same time, this free account will be part of the onboarding and company registration process.
Sleek will open your business account right after your company is registered. This can potentially cut a business set up time by many weeks, and even months.
Save the earth by going paperless
Going digital is also a big component of the business’ sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) vision.
Companies that embark on their digital transformation journey with Sleek can rest assured that they are also doing their part to ‘save the earth’ and gear towards a paperless and greener future together.
“Our industry has long been known to be traditional and paper-based. The resources needed for these services — e.g. accounting and financial services (from document printing to signing) — produce over 469 tons of carbon dioxide,” shared Julien.
“That’s equivalent to the carbon emissions generated by nearly 23 fully loaded garbage trucks. It’s a pressing need for companies to gear towards a paperless and greener future, as seen by the rising sea levels and global warming.”
Sleek is the first company in the professional services tech landscape with a sustainability initiative tackling carbon emissions and is en route to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. As of this month, it has planted over 9,000 trees in Java, Indonesia to offset its carbon footprint.
Interested to start your business or looking to transfer your back office needs? Get up to S$350 off today and explore Sleek’s services here.
This article was written in collaboration with Sleek.
Featured Image Credit: Sleek