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Intuit launches QuickBooks Online in India [Target is to serve one in every four small business]

Nasdaq listed Intuit Inc on Tuesday launched the made-for-India version of QuickBooks Online, its business and financial management software for small businesses. The cloud based accounting solution has been running in alpha and beta stages in India for about 12 months now and it was also showcased at Unpluggd.

Nikhil Arora, Vice President, Managing Director India, Intuit Inc

Nikhil Arora, Vice President, Managing Director of Intuit India, told Pi that with nearly 2 million broadband connected small businesses in India, the company is positioned for rapid growth in India.

Presently, it is used by nearly 1.3 million users worldwide and is available in 150 countries. The $4.15 billion US company is a provider of business and financial management solutions for small and mid–sized businesses; financial institutions including banks and credit unions; consumers and accounting professionals.

For Intuit, which first made its intentions of selling products for India clear in 2009, it will not be an easy battle. The company will have to compete with the likes of Tally which has a strong presence in the small and medium business space and others like SAP which has also started focussing on small businesses.

We did a quick interview with Nikhil Arora. Edited excerpts:

Pi: What has been the journey so far?

When we started india, we looked at India and asked what are the unique needs. Then we set out to solve those challenges. Quickbooks is web based and is easy to use.

Pi: Future plans for Intuit in India?

The credibility of the brand is huge without any marketing. Truly, we are the only global company serious about addressing problem for small businesses. At present, we will focus on understanding what the other ecosystems are around the product. If small and medium businesses using our products have another gap relating to finances or management, we will add that to the existing one. At any point, we have about 10 experiments happening in different fields in our company. We opened our APIs for quickbooks online and desktop in the US. As of today we don’t have it in india but there are plans.

Pi: What is the opportunity like?Target segment?

The Ministry of small and medium enterprises says that there are about 26 million SMBs in India. Now how many of them have a computer and out of that how many of them have broadband? The number shrinks to 2 million. We are looking at that market first.

Pi: What about competition? Like SAP and Tally?

SAP does things across all segments and what differentiates us from other players is our focus on small businesses. Our strategy is to continue to focus on that. What we understand closely is the customers problems and we like going deeper into it. We feel like we are making the market in that sense and I don’t believe there is a strong competitor on a cloud platform or a globally credible brand

Are customers willing to adopt cloud based accounting software? Aren’t they comfortable with something like Tally?

Tally is focused on the desktop market which is different. Customers are not really concerned about online or offline. What they ask is if you are solving the problem or not. We see ourselves as market leaders in the online space and will make significant penetration.

Aren’t customers apprehensive about storing important information on cloud?

There are different segments of customers out there. Early adopters have a better understanding of what the cloud is. They are  are savvy tech they are adopting much quickly. For them, cloud is not an issue. People who are on the borderline are the businesses we will continuously educate. Third segment is the tech non adopter, they are comfortable with the desktop approach, they have apprehensions. That will evolve over time as the industry will have to make efforts to educate them.

What will be your go to market strategy?

Availability and affordability will be our core strength. We will focus on direct awareness through blogs, Google and word of mouth. In India, word of mouth is big. We will also help in training and onboarding new customers. We are also engaging with accountants as an extension of the ecosystem.

Targets in India?

In India, we want to serve one in four small and medium business. Both in urban and rural areas. We expect this kind of growth to come through in 5-7 years when there will be maximum adoption. Its hard to fix a time frame to it but thats the vision.

What is your current headcount? Hiring plans?

We have about 650 people including development, sales and marketing staff. No specific numbers on hiring yet but we are rapidly growing.

What kind of growth are you seeing?

Since we just launched the product we have a sizeable alfa, beta, users. Amongst the non core markets (outside UK, Canada and US), India is one of the fastest growing markets.

Recommended read: Intuit introduces QuickBooks in India – Super Affordable Accounting for Startups and SMEs

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