Centime is a cool company that came out of stealth mode this week. I’ve been talking to the founder for some time, but he’s finally unveiled the whole story.
I need not tell you that cash flow is the lifeblood, and the leading cause of death, among small businesses! Centime helps small and medium-sized businesses control and manage cash flow. It’s an extremely hot area of software development and investing right now, as you know.
If you run a small or mid-sized business, as I do (sorta), you probably have QuickBooks or Xero. I can only speak for QuickBooks. It’s a great product at a great (and steadily increasing) price. (I’m a shareholder in Intuit for that reason.) But until recently, QuickBooks was just a general ledger. Beyond being my accounting system, QuickBooks allows me to:
- do rudimentary invoicing (and very basic collections)
- accept payments (though my buyers decide how to pay me and I don’t want to accept cards)
- connect to my bank to reconcile payments (again it’s fairly rudimentary)
- apply for financing
Until very recently, QuickBooks did not help me make payments and certainly did not offer me insights into cash flow forecasting. (They seem to have added cash flow forecasting late last year, but again in a rudimentary fashion.)
Centime sits on top of QuickBooks (and NetSuite) and my bank accounts to provide SMBs a bit bigger than me, a much more robust single-package solution to help with:
- Cash flow forecasting
- Managing collections
- Managing payments and
- Offering credit
Here’s what Centime’s solution looks like conceptually:
Centime bundles in one place functionality that, until now, I would have to piecemeal together. This would take time and mean complexity. In particular, Centime gives a small business owner:
- AI/ML-based cash forecasting, including predicting customer payment delays.
- Robust collection tools tied to cash flow predictions as well as a “merchant account” to allow a small business to perform direct debit ACH payments and initiate card transactions (for buyers who will allow this).
- As to AP, Centime helps determine how best to make payments, again based on the cash forecast.
- Integrated into this AP offering are a commercial payment card and access to a short-term revolving working capital line of credit.
- Finally, Centime offers to monitor customer and supplier risk.
If I were a small DTC company selling through my own Shopify website, Amazon, Walmart, and maybe a brick-and-mortar shop, I’d want this functionality.
As I mentioned above, bits and pieces of what Centime offers are available from a variety of competitors:
- Bill.com offers AP/AR functionality, but not credit or cash flow forecasting.
- There are plenty of folks on the AR side, but not on the AP side: Tesorio, Sidetrade, Invoiced, VersaPay, etc.
- And there are plenty of folks on the AP side, but not the AR side: Tipalti, Mineral Tree, AvidxChange, Paymode, and others.
- There are also plenty of folks offering just credit (my inbox and voicemail are filled with offers) and plenty of folks offering procurement cards and light spend management tools (e.g., Brex, Pleo, etc.).
But few companies have put together all of what Centime proposes.
The Great Convergence
Bill.com began the process of converging AP and AR. But, SMBs have working capital and cash flow problems, not just a processing problem in AP and AR. Centime understands that working capital decisions are made at the nexus of AP, AR, and Credit. Centime uses the cash flow forecast as a guide for optimizing these decisions for a company. A small or medium-sized company can piece this kind of solution together, but most don’t have the time or inclination to deal with the resulting complexity. Centime puts the pieces in a neat little box. Others are headed this way, including Quickbooks, but perhaps not as elegantly.
Centime was founded by BC Krishna who serves as its CEO. Krishna is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded Mineral Tree, a successful AP provider, a bank fraud detection company now owned by FIS, and a web content management which is now owned by Oracle. He has experience in the space as well as guiding companies to successful outcomes. He has a chance to accelerate this convergence. Now, onto the fight!