MEET CA VAIBHAV MANDHANA- FOUNDER PARTNER AT FINANCE LOOKUP ADVISORS
He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and an IBBI Registered Valuer for Securities and Financial Assets.
A multidisciplinary leader wearing multiple hats have a knack towards Valuations. Founded Finance Lookup and excels at articulating concepts and educating clients, so they can make empowered and informed business decisions.
Prior to starting Finance Lookup Advisors, he was working with Grant Thornton for 7 years, wherein he was part of the Audit and Assurance Team. In last 4 years, they have grown F-Lookup multifold with 40+strong team and affiliate members/partner firms in 14 cities across India.
CA Vaibhav Mandhana, Founder Partner at Finance Lookup Advisors talks about his inspiration, his challenges, his journey & about Finance Lookup so far in an exclusive interview with CLIQTAX:
CT: Tell us something about your background & Where have you got the education?
VM: I am a Chartered Accountant and a Tech Entrepreneur. I did my schooling from Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh Vidhalaya. After clearing 2 levels of CA from Jaipur, I was determined to get more exposure and work with a multinational firm. I thought this would not only enrich my experience but also broaden my perspective.
In 2016 after working for 7 years at Grant Thornton, I decided to take a leap as an entrepreneur. After 6 months of brainstorming and researching, I launched Finance Look-up as a one-man show and then eventually asked my friends to join me. Today we are a 40 member team and providing tech solutions.
CT: What inspired you to choose this profession of Chartered Accountancy?
VM: I was an above-average student but never had CA in my dream list. I always wanted to do an MBA from a good B- School. But my sister Sujata inspired me to pursue CA and since an MBA could be pursued only after graduation I registered for the CA course.
CT: What are the challenges you have faced so far and how did you overcome them?
VM: We thought we will help clients with fundraising, but we didn’t have the expertise. This was a roadblock as we got a couple of clients. What we learned is not everyone can do everything, so we created a big network chain of people and their expertise and we partner with them in our growth.
Our website home page has this network group on the top right! We always look forward to collaborating with the right set of people.
We did start with assistance in Government schemes, but with so many different needs and location, we weren’t able to cater to all the leads. Now with our expert network, we will be able to restart it soon.
We were also not always right – But I remember Mark Cuban words on this – It does not matter how many times you fail, you just have to be right once. I never had a feeling that what if things do not turn up what will I do. I think that is inherent in a Marwari to take risks as an entrepreneur and reap the rewards.
Extensive support from my friends and family never let this thought come to my head, in fact at times when things aren’t going well they are the ones who keep me motivated to take bigger risks and try new things.
So there was my market – open for all, we just need to develop solutions and offer them on a subscription basis to all.
Entrepreneurship is awesome when things are falling in place and very taxing when things aren’t. There were a couple of hurdles which we faced which includes:
- Hiring the right employees (very important decision, as every employee you hire, represents your brand to the outsiders and one wrong decision can spoil your brand easily)
- Managing the CashFlow (There is a lot of learning with limited cash, one needs to decide on doing the work himself/herself or investing own time in business development and hire an employee who will handle the work)
End of the day its super fun and rewarding to have something of your own. I think it’s a game of perseverance.
CT: What are your areas of experience? Please spread some light on your work experiences?
VM: I was in the Audit department, In audit, you get to choose different industries you can work with, deadline assignments, new people, new experience, and I always liked meeting new people and add them to my network which has eventually helped me a lot which I would strongly recommend to everyone who wants to do something of his own. Although I did not do networking for this sake it eventually helped me.
During my tenure at Grant Thornton, I got an amazing opportunity to work for Entertainment, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Oil exploration companies. I worked on Indian GAAP, IFRS, and PCAOB assignment. It was in Grant Thornton I met my current co-founders who are equally dynamic and enterprising and they have helped me scale the venture to this level.
I learned from my seniors how to manage time, work under pressure, networking, and providing valuable services to the client. Some of the most sophisticated solutions were used by Grant Thornton for Audit documentation, sampling, etc always fascinated me.
I started identifying places where automation could have helped us save time and cost for the client. There was a gap:
- Small and Midsize firms – are not investing in technology but will buy the solutions if offered in the correct price range
- Big firms – a new solution will take time to develop considering the hierarchy in the organization.
CT: What is flookup.com is all about & How it's helping professionals/startups in this compliance era?
VM: We as a firm have 3 main domains:
- Technological solutions
- Form 15CA and Form 15CB Bulk Utility
- Online Valuation Tool
- Repository for certificates
- Fixed Assets Tagging and Verification Android app
- Documentation tool
- Virtual CFO
Apart from technological solutions, we have enabled technology even in our other service lines including Valuations – where all the valuation models are enabled into a solution and upon data feeding at the backend, it throws the range of valuation amount.
The data about the country, risk-free rate of return, cost of equity, etc. are calculated by the system after filling a basic checklist.
In case of VirtualCFO, each client is provided with a specific dropbox access and an online documentation tool access, the MIS is visible to the client at all point of time even though its accounts are maintained by us.
Another example of banking services which is part of the Virtual CFO, every client has entered into an agreement with the bank, the amount which is supposed to be charged is actually charged are not is done through an online in-house utility. These are just examples of how we have used technology in the daily routine.
CT: What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful as a professional?
VM: Hard work, Dedication, and Networking skills.
Try to solve some problem and if someone has a nature to go out of the way to help someone, for sure he/she will be successful.
Try to think about not only yourself but your employees, society and make a solution accordingly.
CT: What role you are playing currently as a professional?
VM: I wanted to develop solutions for bringing in effectiveness and efficiency. With my experience as a Chartered Accountant, I started with developing solutions for other Chartered Accountants.
Currently, the solutions are with Big Firms, but there was a need to automate and provide Tech solutions to remaining CA firms as well ( which is 99%) of the total.
So, our market was big enough to kick start things. The solutions that we have is our USP, the price at which we offer our SaaS solutions and the value that we get on the table gets us the cheque from our clients.
Just like you have VLOOKUP (vertical lookup) In Microsoft Excel, with this formulae we can find any value in a vertical column, similarly, we named ourselves as FLOOKUP (Finance Lookup), anything related to finance, the client can look us up!
CT: What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
VM: The journey of entrepreneurship is rewarding and one must follow the dreams. If you wish to do something of your own try it out!
The possibility of it not working even after giving your 100% is quite low and it's worth every risk.
CT: What are your goals ahead that you are looking into your vision?
VM: Our next plan is to continuously develop newer solutions using the latest technology and bring about cost reduction and reduce turnaround time for any work.
Yes, currently we are into a lot of service lines and we would want to concentrate our energies on technological solutions in the future. The only way to do great work is to love what you do and we love what we are doing right now.
With minimal attrition in our company, every new joinee is made to understand the vision and with new clients coming in, new products developing even they are happy because if the Company grows they grow.
We look forward to sharing our knowledge and technology not only with our clients but with our peers as well and that’s when we have started with Subscription-based SaaS offerings.
There is no point in 20 people making the same technology solution, rather one person makes, makes it the best, and rest everyone uses it, and yes we want to be that one person.
CT: Please throw some light on your achievements and other milestones?
- Started this company as a one-man show and just added 3 interns to start with (they were also hired after we got a Virtual CFO mandate). Started work from a client’s place to whom we used to render financial services in exchange for using the place to work. In Mumbai rentals are killers!
- We started a company with positive cash flow from day 1 and that’s really important. Before the launch of our services I asked my friends and family to trust me with my services and I asked them to refer clients to me, and we were at the right place at the right time and we got 2 mandates in month 1.
- Made a BOT for automatic reply for financial services query but didn’t really work.
- Our first employee CA Aditi Jain joined us. This was first when we hired a Chartered Accountant.
- Understood that with the increase in work, growth and execution, it wasn’t possible to do everything together and asked my very close friends to join me in my journey of entrepreneurship. Neha Jain and Akash Agarwal joined as partners to firm and we started to grow multifold.
- For expanding our network we wanted someone who is a combination of networking and execution and that’s when end of the year, a very close friend Antim Patni joined us.
- Clientele increased to more than 35
Things kept growing and we moved to a bigger office space. More employees, more service kept on increasing on our service platform.
- We on-boarded another partner Akriti Mundra who heads the recruitment arm of our business.
- A partner to handle Insurance and Mutual Funds – Sujata Behani who earlier was helping us with project financing joins us.
- We took one more office space on rent in the same building for our full-time technology and other service lines team.
- Technological products – Web solutions for certifications, Fixed Assets Android App and Web Solutions, Documentation tool were launched.
- Pretty bad start of the year with Covid-19 ruining all the plans and making the budgets go on a toss.
- There has been no firing but no hiring as well.
- But at the same time, we are safe with all our tech products introduced in earlier years and now to convince a prospective client is simple.
CT: What message you would like to convey to the young ones?
VM: For sure, I would recommend young CAs to pursue their dream and entrepreneurship. I meet a lot of newly qualified CAs, or CAs who quit their job after 1-3 years, I have a conversation with them over coffee and share my experience.
Always happy to meet them and yes this coffee is on me! These are both from my previous organization and those who have connected with me on LinkedIn. This is what I have learned from my seniors of guiding and showing them the way. Ultimately they are the ones who have to put hard work and make it happen!
Have the courage to follow your dream! Be with the right kind of people and work with like-minded people. Try to bring some value to add on the table that people are looking for. Think out of the box and try to make a difference & Find a Mentor who can guide you!
CLIQTAX extends heartiest wishes to CA Vaibhav Mandhana for his journey as a mentor and entrepreneur. Kudos to him for such an amazing interview.
Edited by Team CLIQTAX
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