Firm of the Future: Intuit interview with Veryfi founders
Author: Ernest Semerda
Original Article published by Intuit:
We officially started Veryfi in December 2016. We were motivated to create Veryfi after spending years managing our expenses, using clunky desktop software that caused a bunch of headaches, such as lost hours doing manual data entry and chasing down employees for context behind receipts so they could be coded. After speaking with friends in startups and exploring tooling options, we realized we weren’t alone and that no one had really figured out a solution to this common pain point.
We started with a simple premise to automate data extraction, using machines and turning unstructured documents into structured data (in real time) that could be used to speed up accounting.
But, there was one particular area where we really needed to differentiate our product from others. A Firm of the Future uses software to provide unparalleled service. As a start, back office software has to be 100 percent powered by machines. Self-driving cars process millions of instructions per millisecond. Our software had to do the same thing. The bar was high! And, we knew we would venture into the work of machine vision and machine learning to reach our goal.
Veryfi automates bookkeeping and data extraction of time and materials for field teams. Veryfi uses mobile-first artificial intelligence software without any specific rule or template to extract data in real-time. This rich data is then pushed to QuickBooks® journal entries to balance the books, which meets statutory tax obligations, improves job expensing and boosts team productivity with live insights.
One industry that is really benefiting from Veryfi right now is architecture, engineering and construction. Construction is the second-least digitized industry in the United States, yet it accounts for 10 percent of the country’s GDP. Massive! Until now, the industry has not had many options for automated bookkeeping, especially one that is secure and trustworthy, creates autonomy through automation, and is available on their mobile devices (iOS and Android).
Seventy percent of the construction workforce is out in the field, so having a bookkeeper in your clients’ pocket is a game-changer. Our app can be engaged with voice or via automation, using geofencing and floor-by-floor detection, which simplifies data entry and coding and boosts productivity, while providing transparency across an organization.
Trust and data privacy: small business clients send thousands to millions of dollars of transactions to systems for bookkeeping. That’s the life journal of our business. Therefore, clients need to trust that we are taking all the necessary precautions to make sure only our team and their assigned accountant have access to the data.
Veryfi employs all industry encryption standards, such as TLS1.2 and AES, at rest and in transit. Additionally, access is locked down with MFA (multi-factor authentication), and biometrics and passwords are one-way encrypted.
But, it goes farther: there is no human augmentation or injection anywhere in the workflow. Veryfi algorithms, coupled with machine vision and machine learning, are precise enough to allow running a business 100 percent on machines and comply with GDPR, HIPAA and CCPA.
Machine automation, not human augmentation: a somewhat poorly kept secret in pre/accounting software is that many “AI startups” are actually using humans.
Our software sees semantics and structural layout and extracts value by taking unstructured documents and turning them into rich structured data, often enriched with contextual mobile data. This unrivaled precision and speed delights customers, builds trust and enables us to stand out from the crowd.
Native mobile apps: the word “apps” has been watered down over the past few years to mean practically any piece of software. At Veryfi, we use the word “app” to mean a mobile app natively built for a smartphone using iPhone or Android.
The Firm of the Future isn’t constrained to a desk. It’s mobile. Seventy percent of the construction workforce today is mobile. Even the 40 million Americans in the gig economy are mobile. These firms need their own native mobile tools.
Veryfi is an AI-mobile-first business built on RESTful APIs that are globally distributed to ensure performance and reliability to tens of thousands of iOS, Android and web users, wherever they are. This allows our team to focus on building a bookkeeper in everyone’s pocket that is available 24-7.
The customer is king. During our YCombinator program, we were strongly advised to speak with users (and customers) on a daily basis and build a product that actually worked for them.
So, we formed a very customer-centric view of what a Firm of the Future should be. If you are not a customer-centric company, you will fail to build a product that converts users into customers.
Our first interaction with QuickBooks started when our users were asking us to connect to their QuickBooks accounts to automate the workflows for their bookkeeping. We met David Leary (now ex-Intuit® Evangelist), who introduced us to the developer portal and supported us throughout this journey, from being our point of contact to vouching for us.
“We enjoy working with Intuit because of shared values about the Firm of the Future,” the team says. “It’s hard to find a partner so well grounded in first principles and an aligned culture.”
Intuit is a leader in the cloud accounting space for small- and medium-size businesses. Cloud Accounting 2.0 (as David Leary coined it) is going to be the “rise of the machines” – intelligent, real-time machine automation. This means the mid-market for accounting will also be disrupted. We believe this change is going to be bigger than Cloud Accounting 1.0, when desktop moved to the Cloud.
Partnering with Intuit, who understands accounting across a broad spectrum of markets, allows us to focus on pre-accounting automation while enriching the QuickBooks Online product, Intuit customers and accountants with tools that add value.
“We are excited about the future of Cloud Accounting 2.0 alongside Intuit,” the team says.
We cater to field teams primarily in the AEC industry, as well as customers in real estate and healthcare.
Procrastination is the tendency to delay unpleasant, but important acts. Bookkeeping is a mentally (will power) draining exercise, often left (procrastinated) until the end of the week or month. It’s stressful enough for a business owner to run their business, so prioritizing bookkeeping is difficult.
At Veryfi, we believe that if we can teach computers to do the tasks we procrastinate on in accounting (such as bookkeeping), we will unshackle the human mind from rows and spreadsheets and release more creativity.
Ernest Semerda & Dmitry Birulia