Many people have an accountant - perhaps you do - but what you may not realise is just how incredibly busy accountants are, running and managing their own practice. So we started Senta with a really simple concept: to build a great cloud service to help accountants run their practice.
We have found each accountant needs to keep track of 10 to 15,000 tasks every year. And each client service – VAT, payroll, tax returns and so on – has various deadlines and document requirements, many of them recurring. Even without the accounting, just running an accountancy practice takes a lot of time.
We want to give accountants a solution that will ease their admin burden and help them earn extra fees. So we’ve created Senta: an elegant cloud service with powerful features to schedule tasks & deadlines, help with marketing & CRM, and improve security and customer service.
Senta aims to help practices increase their productivity, boost their profits and deliver great customer service.
With Senta, our aim is to enable accountants to spend more time finding new business and doing fee-paying work.
Our platform looks after an accountant's clients throughout their life-cycle. Senta automatically initiates all the services and jobs for a client. Senta seeks approvals and sends emails and notifications as required, making sure nothing is missed.
Senta keeps practices informed too. Practice staff receive notifications for everything they need to do, and it informs practice managers if anything is not going to plan.
Senta comes ready to go: when users sign up, they don't need to spend days or weeks configuring and setting up.
But everything in Senta can be changed to suit the practice. There's no capital expenditure and no maintenance: they just sign up and start. And if we do our job right, we hope we'll keep those customers for life.
With the time-savings, efficiencies and increased revenue opportunities, we believe accountancy firms could benefit hugely by using Senta.
Substantial accomplishments to date
We've produced a super-reliable software platform that runs on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones alike. We’re improving it all the time, by constantly talking to our clients, and we get great feedback. We’ve listened carefully to their requirements and added features including electronic signing, texting, email marketing, time recording and financial integrations, all joined up with an amazing workflow engine.
We’ve built marketing materials, like brochures and videos, tested a variety of promotional channels and monitored KPIs as we go. We’ve been able to reach out to accountants across the UK. We’ve grown steadily, doing everything by hand ourselves, refining what we do to make sure that product/market fit is excellent, and our testimonials reflect our effort.
We’ve internationalised the product and it’s in use already in sixteen countries. Recently we’ve taken on our first team members: two developers and two client support advisers. We’re recruiting a marketing exec now, which, along with the two founders, should give us the team we need for the next year.
We’re ready to scale, not just in the UK, but around the world.
Senta has a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model which we believe to be very scalable.
We charge accountancy practices a monthly per-user charge of up to £29 per month (less if paid annually). Their clients use it free of charge, and larger practices pay less per user. We offer each practice a free, unlimited 30-day trial.
Senta users get every feature that is in the product, and are given access automatically to every new feature that we develop. We want every user to get a better experience month by month and we believe this would help ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty – as well as boost word-of-mouth recommendations.
Our high margins mean that we can invest heavily in marketing and continued product development. , in order to drive growth and ensure low churn.
Use of proceeds
Investment raised through Seedrs would be used to scale UK growth and then develop overseas markets.
We would use investment for:
• continued product development
• support & marketing staff
• marketing materials, such as webinars and explainer videos
• promotional activity
• international expansion
We need to drive customers into our sales process but ensure they have a great product experience – right from the start of their trial period with Senta. We believe that support staff will play a critical role in enabling rapid growth. They’ll be giving engaging advice and guidance to users at scale, using video, webinars and automated emails.
We would continue to invest in diverse promotional activities, such as pay-per-click (PPC) and content marketing, monitoring the ROI closely to identify the most profitable promotional channels.
We would accept over-funding, using additional funds to accelerate our marketing programme.
Our target market is small accountancy firms - smart people who use technology as a core part of their work - and we have a great solution for them.
There are more than 40,000 accountancy firms in the UK, mostly small practices of one to ten people.
But we don't have to stop there. We’ve internationalised the platform and intend to expand into markets around the world.
In Europe, for example, there are more than 600,000 accountancy firms - a huge market close to home. We would also seek to enter other English-speaking markets, such as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Senta is ready for other verticals too. We can take out the accounting configuration and drop in new workflows, services, tasks and so on for different types of professional practice. We've already had interest from legal practitioners who've seen the product.
For the moment though, we're concentrating on our core market: small accountancy firms in the UK.
Characteristics of target market
We believe that small practices want help with three aspects of their business: practice efficiency, marketing and improved technology.
With firms moving to a fixed-price model, we have found practice efficiency is a hot topic in the profession. Our platform could make a significant difference to practices' efficiencies and costs, yet still improve their customer service.
Accountants are increasingly marketing-led, winning business from all over the country, and the light-touch CRM in Senta could help with that.
One of the major topics in the accounting market is cloud computing. We have found that many accountants are getting prepared for the cloud now, or are using software such as Xero and QuickBooks, so we believe that our timing is perfect, and that cloud computing is sufficiently mature to gain accountants' trust.
We believe a cloud-based practice management platform, like Senta, should be at the heart of the modern practice.
Our strategy is to create strong brand awareness in the UK accounting market, through the publications they read and the websites they visit. Our efforts would be focused on testing a range of promotional channels so we can build a winning marketing machine. The cost of acquiring a customer is one of our key metrics, so we'll be monitoring the ROI on each channel.
Our main areas of focus would be:
• Press releases targeting relevant accountancy websites & publications
• Newsletter and article sponsorships with leading accountancy websites
• Top UK accountancy exhibitions.
• Online, such as PPC, remarketing & video marketing
• Offline in accountancy magazines and journals.
SEO / content marketing.
Social media, initially Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn.
Referral programmes and partnerships
• Advisers and consultants who may promote our platform.
• Integrations with other software products, which would bring incidental business.
Direct marketing online and offline.
We have found there are competitors in this market offering practice management systems, but most are stuck in the old-fashioned world of installed software. We have noticed that some suppliers are only now talking about moving to the cloud in the next few years.
We believe our innovative and evolving cloud platform will help us succeed. And we would make it easy for people to buy into Senta: a free trial and premium support from the outset. Everything in our sales process is designed to reduce friction.
We've not only designed a product which addresses their explicit needs, but draws upon our years of experience building and using Web2.0 systems. We believe the powerful Senta platform could help accountants in ways they had no idea was even possible, yet it uses a modern, intuitive interface that keeps the learning curve low. And this delight can only continue in the future as we look to incorporate truly advanced technologies like Machine Learning into the mix.