Solving everyday problems and pain points that matter
Haywood Shum and his co-founder Calvin Lui officially launched Binery in June 2021 with the aim to bridge the digitisation gap in the world of bookkeeping – a traditionally low-margin daily business task that is no longer an important area of focus for many large accounting firms.
Two simple hypotheses sparked an idea
Haywood and Calvin are not formally trained accountants, but they know first-hand how annoying bookkeeping and tax processes can be. Coming from corporate and sales backgrounds, the pair realised the market demand for simplified and automated bookkeeping. It was a small demand – small enough that larger accounting firms paid it no mind. Therein lay a market gap for Haywood and Calvin to explore.
Together, they based Binery on two key observations: there is a wide range of accounting software in the world, but not everybody has the financial literacy or the time to use it – especially small business owners; and most large-scale professional accounting firms don’t want to do bookkeeping anymore because the margins are low and the chances of human error are high.
With this in mind, Haywood and Calvin decided to develop an automated bookkeeping product that cater to a niche market and help small business owners digitise a traditional yet essential process.
Finding the right testing ground and gaining momentum
“Initially, in terms of selling our service and bringing in clients, we found it really hard,” said Haywood. “We had no recognisable brand. My co-founder and I were not accountants. So, why would anyone trust us to do their bookkeeping? To attract customers, we realised that we had to address a pain point – fill a market gap that was entirely underserved.”
In addition to helping small businesses, startups, “solopreneurs” and businesses in the growth phase, Binery also saw an opportunity to serve “mom and pop” style establishments. To build the necessary relationships during the early stages of their startup, they chose Hong Kong as a launching pad. The city’s strategic location and business-friendly environment made it an ideal testing ground for Binery to validate its business model and establish partnerships with local businesses. Moreover, Hong Kong’s melting pot of cultures and corporations offered a diverse market for Binery to understand and adapt to various customer needs.
Once they started building initial connections and proved the feasibility of their business model, Binery was able to establish itself in the market and work started flowing a lot faster. However, Haywood soon realised that building the perfect product could not be the company’s sole focus. Bookkeeping is a people-centred process, so their business focus needed to shift towards customer experience. By prioritising its customer journey, Binery ensured their clients were receiving the best possible services, which in turn led to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates. This shift in focus also allowed Binery to differentiate itself from larger competitors and create a strong brand image in the market.
Growing the team and expanding the market
While most of Binery’s leadership team is based out of Hong Kong, the rest of the team is spread across Malaysia, India and Egypt. Having a remote team has been key in helping the company expand the number of markets they serve – with 10 already under their belt they are now looking to expand into other Asia Pacific regions such as Australia and New Zealand.
In their first round of seed funding, Binery was able to raise US$1.2 million. They secured funding from HKSAR Government-led initiatives such as the Technology Startup Support Scheme for Universities, and the Branding, Upgrading and Domestics Sales Fund. Their next round of funding is planned for the end of 2023, through which they hope to acquire funds that will enhance their product and regional development plans.
Advice for new entrepreneurs and startups:
“You don’t need a revolutionary idea to get started. At the end of the day, it’s just about what pain point or compelling event you’re solving. Just start something. It doesn’t matter if the product isn’t perfect.”
– Haywood Shum, CEO and Co-founder of Binery