Union finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman, while presenting the budget for this financial year, had assured that compliances will be reduced. While it will be interesting to watch if the government walks the talk, two entrepreneurs from Pune, Satish Chandra and Nikhil Kulkarni have meanwhile developed a technology-based solution for budding entrepreneurs to get rid of the ‘compliance burden’.

The duo has founded a compliance management startup TekiGō which works as an ‘e-CFO’ and ‘e-HR’ for startups and micro, small and medium enterprises and in turn allows entrepreneurs to focus on innovation and business expansion.

In the beginning…

Chandra is an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus with over 17 years of cross-industry experience. He is a serial entrepreneur and mentors start-ups in scaling up their operations. Kulkarni is a computer science as well as management graduate, having more than a decade of experience in IT product development and implementation. He was also instrumental in implementing the e-tendering application across government departments.

Says Kulkarni, “I met Chandra while we both were working at a company previously in Pune. The company was going through financial stress and at the same time, we were learning about some of our friends whose companies were being struck off. When we talked to them and researched a bit, we realised that most of the actions were due to non-compliance issues. The founders had to either pay a huge fine or close down the company. That’s when we realised that compliance management is a market which can be tapped.”

“Chandra has good go-to-market knowledge and I come from a technical side. So, we decided to develop a platform which will help not only startup or Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) entrepreneurs but also chartered accountants (CA) and company secretary (CS) professionals to achieve compliance with the help of technology instead of relying on manual documentation process,” Kulkarni added.

Neglect and disqualification

Kulkarni and Chandra did a market study and had some startling revelations. “Today India is poised to become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Individuals are establishing companies, accelerating their aspiration to become an entrepreneur. Since 2019, till date, more than four lakh establishments have been registered with various Registrar of Companies (RoC) across India. On average, 15,000 new companies get incorporated in India every year. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), a total of 2,11,916 companies were incorporated in India in 2021. Beneath this beautiful depiction, lies nearly 40 per cent of non-compliant establishments,” said Kulkarni while revealing the market study findings.

“As an entrepreneur, there is a catch – to worry about compliances and government rules or to focus on technology, product development and business. Most startup founders ignore the compliance part and wake up only when notices are served to them. For example, out of the companies incorporated in 2017, at least 40,000 companies have been struck off and this number may increase every year. The penalty is such that the director of such companies is disqualified and they can’t incorporate a new company during the disqualification period,” Kulkarni stated.

Adding further, Chandra said, “According to the MCA website data, ROC Mumbai had 23,452 directors disqualified who cannot establish new companies till 2026. These entrepreneurs may not be able to get a good position as director in any other company and hence will miss out on huge opportunities in their career.”

Incorporation

Kulkarni and Chandra also studied their competitors and the services offered by them. They believe that not only entrepreneurs but professionals like CA, and CS can also benefit from their platform and get all data of their respective client companies readily on a dashboard, get timely alerts and take swift actions accordingly to make companies compliant.

Kulkarni said, “We incorporated our company in January 2020. We chose TekiGo, a Japanese name meaning conformity, as we identify anything Japanese with quality and compliance. Despite coming from a traditional Maharashtrian family, I took the risk and my wife and family too supported me. Within three months of starting, the coronavirus outbreak happened and we had to take a break. After a year-long groundwork and MCA-data crunching, we decided to get our platform ready. Overcoming several challenges during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the website was finally ready in October 2021.”

“On January 26, 2022, we launched our first feature of company incorporation. We are adding new features every three months and within two years, all features which we have planned, will be available on our platform,” adds Nikhil.

Ecosystem

Riding the current start-up craze TekiGo has launched the company incorporation feature as of now. Elaborating more on it, Kulkarni says, “Our website gives information about the incorporation of the company. Users can directly choose to incorporate a company by filling up basic details. Options like private, public, limited liability partnership (LLP), and one-person (OPC) companies are provided. One can also reserve in advance the name of a company using the ‘RUN’ facility provided by the government. Usually, people prefer to incorporate LLP or private limited company whereas OPC numbers are very less.”

“After the incorporation details, director details, name reservation and appropriate RoC is selected, applicable fees need to be paid by the user. Depending on the package selected for 1 year, 2 year and 3-year support, users can avail of basic features like MCA return filing options. Our aim is to make TekiGo an ecosystem for compliance management. We are going to include other features related to IT returns, GST returns, MSME-related filings, trademark and intellectual property, etc,” stated Kulkarni.

Offerings

•Compliment: This platform allows entrepreneurs not only to incorporate their firms in India but also assists them in passing all regulatory hurdles as their company grows.

This platform is a tool to implement government compliances effectively. It collectively includes rules, regulations and laws of the industry the company operates in. Compliment helps detect compliance violations and protects the company from considerable reputational damage and saves from escalating financial penalties. It is designed to minimise the time, money, and hassle you spend on compliance.

•MeriTrank: This platform helps to systematically evaluate businesses and TekiGo plans to launch it by 2022-end.

Unlike listed entities, startups and early-stage companies have to face challenges while raising finance for operation sustainability, and scaling up the business. MeriTrank helps such companies by assessing the quality of such organisations and counselling them on turning healthy. Enhancing rank facilitates companies to attract not only multiple avenues of financing but also talent. The platform is designed in such a way that it can be accessed not only by company directors but also by financial institutions, prospective investors and everyone having an interest in such a company.

•Tulip: TekiGo’s aspirational bid into unlisted company financing offering

Tulip is a platform for start-ups, early-stage and growth-stage companies offering financial offerings. Tulip will leverage technology used by TekiGo Compliment and MeriTrank and will be available to prospective companies and investors by early 2023. This platform offers an avenue to invest in high-growth, high-risk enterprises at an early stage and or at the growth stage.

Customers

Sharing a real-life customer experience, Kulkarni said, “A startup founder had formed a company in 2018 but completely neglected its compliances. He had also established another company in 2021. But after the non-compliance-related notices were issued, they had no choice but to either voluntarily strike off the first company or to pay a penalty of 5 lakh for non-compliance since 2018. The second company was also non-compliant as they hadn’t procured the business commencement certificate. If they did not take any action, then there was a risk of both companies being stroked off. We offered them appropriate advice which helped them reduce their losses. Our platform is being improvised based on such real-life cases and experiences.”

Chandra said, “When we get calls from our prospective customers, we first guide them. We ask them what kind of business they are going to do, what kind of company they wish to incorporate, inform them about the minimum expenses until the company is dissolved, what is the process while incorporating the company, new rules and regulations, etc.”



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