Botkeeper Tallies $4.5M Investment to Automate Accounting Tasks

Bookkeeping is time-consuming, repetitive, and boring—unless you’re into that kind of thing. Sounds like a job for a machine.

Software isn’t sophisticated enough to handle all of the work involved in recording transactions and managing businesses’ finances, but money is being poured into artificial intelligence technologies aimed at shifting more of the workload from humans to computers.

The latest signal is a $4.5 million investment in Boston-based Botkeeper, which has developed software to automate bookkeeping tasks. The seed funding round announced today was led by Ignition Partners, along with contributions from John Connors, an Ignition managing partner and the former CFO of Microsoft; 500 Startups partner Mat Johnson; Trevor Kienzle of Correlation Ventures; and Talla co-founder and CEO Rob May. (May’s Boston-area startup is one of Botkeeper’s clients.) Ignition’s Kellan Carter and Atlantis Technology CEO Tom Biggins have joined Botkeeper’s board as part of the deal.

Over the past few decades, automation has transformed the manufacturing industry, with robots taking over many repetitive, manual tasks on factory floors. Three-year-old Botkeeper is an example of how automation is starting to have a greater impact in the back office.

The 40-person startup provides virtual accounting services—recording transactions, making payments, tracking and scheduling revenue and deferred expenses, sending invoices, and so on—through a combination of machine learning-based software and human assistance. The software handles tasks like analyzing data, categorizing expenses, and executing accounting actions automatically. Each client is also paired with a trained accountant who can review financials and help with “urgent, custom, or complex” tasks, the company says. Botkeeper’s pitch is that its services are available to customers 24/7, cost less than a traditional bookkeeper or outsourced firm, and provide more accurate and faster data entry, according to the company.

Botkeeper isn’t the only company trying to automate accounting tasks. Others include startups like Smacc, KashFlow, and AutoEntry, as well as larger accounting software firms, such as Xero. More broadly, companies working on automation tools for other kinds of business functions include Shiftboard, a Seattle-based scheduling and workforce management software firm, which raised $11.5 million this week; and Talla, which develops virtual messaging assistants aimed at automating corporate service desks.

[Botkeeper CEO Enrico Palmerino is pictured above. Photo used with permission.]

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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