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Start Your Business Success Stories

Capital Idea: Entrepreneur’s Tool Helps Firms Manage Finances

Capital Idea: Entrepreneur’s Tool Helps Firms Manage Finances

Twenty-year-old entrepreneur Jessica Mah, freshly graduated from the University of California, Berkley, has just closed a $1.2 million round of angel financing for her startup software firm, InDinero. A simple online finance management tool, InDinero aims to do for small businesses what Intuit’s Mint.com online finance manager does for individuals — bring fiscal order out of chaos.

This is the not Mah’s first waltz around the floor at the entrepreneur’s ball; she started her first company selling website templates on eBay when she was 13, two years before she graduated  from high school. And she founded two more while an undergraduate studying computer science at Berkley.

Like many innovations , InDinero came about when Mah recognized she had a problem with finances at her first company.

“I didn’t know how much I was making or spending,” she told BusinessNewsDaily.

Her dilemma was not uncommon. Most small business owners try to measure the financial health of their company by scanning Excel files and bank statements and listening to their bookkeeper , if they have one. The results are usually spotty, at best.

There was no solution at the time that allowed for her to automatically monitor her company's finances. The problem gestated in Mah’s mind for six years. In 2009 she and a partner, Andy Su, began cobbling together a solution that would use data from bank statements and credit card companies to create an application that would let business owners know how they were doing.

InDinero provides small business owners a dashboard that lets them track, model and forecast their finances in real time. Unlike Intuit’s Quickbooks application for small business, InDinero can instantly project a company’s income and spending based on past patterns and serve as an early warning alarm for cash-flow-sensitive companies that may be on the brink of heading into the red.

The goal for Mah and Su was to produce a lower-cost application that would be a more intuitive and accessible alternative to QuickBooks. They were aiming directly at business owners, not their accountants.

“Intuit’s secret sauce is the accountant ,” Mah said. “InDinero’s secret sauce is the entrepreneur .”

InDinero is rapidly gaining attraction with small business owners. Today, InDinero has a user base of 5,000, up from 2,000 only a month ago. Most of the customers use the free 50-transactions-per-month plan, she said, but the company has also found a number of takers who have opted for a 500-transaction-per month plan for $29.95 and an unlimited transactions plan for $99.95 a month.

For the time being, Mah thinks that her entrepreneurial roaming may be over and that she will call InDinero her professional home for the foreseeable future. Cashing in and selling the company, a well-worn path that many software entrepreneurs have gone down, is not on her radar.

“My hope is to stay with InDinero forever,” she said. “If we got bought out any time soon, I don’t have confidence that the new owners would finish solving the problem. It’s not just a single problem.”

The recent infusion of angel capital has put the five-person operation on sound financial footing, Mah said.

“It’s very likely we won’t have to have another round of funding,” she said. “We’re ramen profitable.”

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@TechMediaNetwork.com. Follow him on twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith
Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.