From accounting to compliance regulations to reconciling payments, small businesses often struggle to keep up with the complexities of running a successful business.
“The problem was to help businesses in India grow, digitize and modernize. The genesis of Treflo was to be the default platform for all their digital needs when it comes to SMEs in India,” explains Rahul Meena, Founder and CEO of Treflo.
Founded in 2020 in bangalore, Treflo began as a B2B (business-to-business) marketplace startup for e-commerce and FMCG categories. Here he was immediately successful, generating annual revenue of $2 million.
In January 2021, Treflo took a new direction focusing on ways to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow and digitize their businesses.
Treflo is a freemium app, with the majority of its vast suite of services and core features being free.
The platform offers a cloud-based mobile business management platform for SMBs, providing easy workflows to automate and simplify tedious business tasks.
Treflo’s product suite includes a free GST invoicing application, electronic invoice generator and B2B commerce solutions.
“The ingenious platform can potentially help save countless hours by automating tedious compliance tasks such as electronic freight bill generation and GST filing processes for the 80% of sole proprietors among the 64 million of MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises). The platform’s technological prowess allows family businesses or small business teams to scale their business efficiently and automate all trivial tasks,” says Rahul.
According to Rahul, Treflo’s USP is driven by its primary goal of enabling the power of financial analysis and business management to MSMEs in a format and language they can understand.
The artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) based solution can provide growth insights to SMBs and warn them of possible dangers, allowing them to plan for the future and grow rapidly.
The 10,000 partners in the Treflo community have helped keep the startup focused on the most important issues facing small businesses, the founders say.
“We are passionate about democratizing the tech space for SMBs, creating interactive technology platforms rather than passive tools as seen with our other competitors,” Rahul told YourStory.
Treflo competes with MyBillbook, Vyapaar and ClearOne from ClearTax.
“Despite significantly larger marketing budgets and technical teams, they were unable to convince value-conscious SMBs looking for simpler, faster and cheaper options,” says Rahul.
Treflo is led by Rahul, the CEO and founder, with Pradeep Bhat, Sagar Dash and Ankit Garg as co-founders. They form the core Treflo team that oversees the day-to-day operations of the business.
With the accumulated experience of 10-15 years in building and scaling technology products, Treflo’s anchor team claims to have worked with some of the biggest players in the market, like Amazon, Gozefo, Samsung and Udaan, among others.
Sagar and Rahul worked for Niffler Labs, which was acquired by Tapzo (a Sequoia-backed company). Ankit and Rahul are band mates of IIIT Gwalior and have collaborated on many projects since college.
Ankit left Amazon to join Treflo in December 2020. Rahul and Pradeep launched Officepulse together in 2017, an enterprise SaaS startup automating final spend purchase categories for Indian businesses where they worked with names like WeWork , Tata Global Beverages, Swiggy, Ola and many other companies.
Treflo currently has a team of 30 employees.
Funding and monetization
Treflo is a seeded startup that began its journey with an investment of around $150,000 in the form of loans from friends and family.
“However, we are now in the middle of fundraising, 60% of the money coming from angel investors. The company is making money from B2B commerce through our marketplace. Recently, we have stopped developing market and we are focused on the SaaS product, but we are still making over $2 million in revenue from the FMCG and electronics businesses,” says Rahul.
As with other businesses, Treflo has had to deal with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been difficult to keep teams together during the shutdowns and to keep them aligned with business goals, as their personal lives have been hugely impacted. For the past 2 years we have had to rigorously adapt almost every quarter, they say the boot ride is a bumpy rollercoaster ride. Add the effects of the pandemic and its influence, the roller coaster might as well be damaged and rusty, it’s a surprise that they even work,” adds Rahul.
The path to follow
India is home to 64 million MSMEs, of which 13 million are registered under the GST. According to a report by the Ministry of MSMEs, Indian MSMEs contribute about 31% to India’s GDP, which is expected to reach 40% by 2025.
As the MSME software landscape continues to evolve, a report by Grand View Research suggests that the global enterprise software and services market size was valued at $429.59 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7% from 2022 to 2030.
“In this global market, India’s contribution is 16%,” says Rahul.
“With such a massive market, there is a lot of rivalry. With our execution capabilities, we are confident of taking a substantial slice of the market share. Our team has extensive expertise in building and growing technology from scratch,” adds Rahul.
Treflo has a pan-Indian presence with a majority of customers from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. It currently has a user base of over 10,000 companies. Some of its clients include Greenwood Energy, Max Agency, Daya Charan and Company, Vardhman Trading Company, Raindew Commerce, Orbit Sales and Varni Raj Industries among others.
“Our financial maneuverability is built around the SaaS-based subscription revenue model. We are currently growing at a 250% MoM rate and working hard to maintain the growth trajectory. Our goal is to capture a significant market and to gain one million customers by the end of 2022. We plan to acquire $10 million in payments through our digital payment solution for SMEs,” says Rahul.