Interview: Prajkta Patkar, Woman Entrepreneur & Co-founder of OnlineKhata

Prajkta Patkar

Interview wiht Prajkta Patkar, Woman Entrepreneur & Co-founder of OnlineKhata, a cloud-based software solution

Prajakta Patkar is an Indian entrepreneur and co-founder of OnlineKhata, a cloud-based software solution that simplifies accounting for micro and small businesses.

She has played a crucial role in transforming the way small businesses manage their accounts and finances. Under Prajakta Patkar’s leadership, OnlineKhata has grown rapidly and has been widely recognized for its innovative solution.

Prajakta Patkar is an inspiring entrepreneur who has leveraged her skills and experience in technology to create a successful startup that helps small businesses manage their finances better.

Her leadership and innovation have made a significant impact on the accounting and finance industry, and her efforts to promote entrepreneurship among women are commendable.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur, and how did you get started with OnlineKhata?

As an entrepreneur, my inspiration came from the desire to create a solution that could empower and uplift micro and small businesses in India.

I saw a need for accessible and inclusive online trade tools for digitally underserved communities, and that’s what led me to co-found OnlineKhata.

The idea was sparked when I joined Krishnakant Mane’s social initiative, GNUKhata, which aimed to develop free accounting software funded by the Kerala state government.

Seeing the impact GNUKhata had and the potential to go beyond, we decided to create OnlineKhata, a billing, invoicing, and payment-tracking software service with unique accounting automation and business analysis platform.

Tell us about your journey and how your role evolved at OnlineKhata

My journey at OnlineKhata has been an incredible one, filled with growth and evolving responsibilities.

I started as a fresher at Digital Freedom Foundation, where I joined Krishnakant’s team and contributed to the development of complex modules for GNUKhata.

Through hard work and dedication, I quickly progressed to become the project manager and eventually the project lead for GNUKhata.

During this time, Krishnakant and I realized that we shared the same goals, lifestyle, and vision for empowering businesses.

In 2020, Krishnakant and I tied the knot, and it was in the same year that we founded Bookmatic PVT. LTD., the company behind OnlineKhata.

I took on the responsibility of setting up OnlineKhata from scratch, working tirelessly on all aspects, from core development to UI/UX design to administrative tasks.

Without these efforts, launching the company would have taken much longer, especially in areas related to compliance and accounts management. My background in UI/UX expertise allowed me to ensure a user-friendly experience for our customers.

Krishnakant and I complement each other’s strengths in running OnlineKhata. While he brings extensive financial domain knowledge and takes care of the core business logic, I specialize in UI/UX and oversee the development of the user interface and core development aspects.

We both share a deep understanding of the business and work together as excellent analysts, providing support to the core team whenever needed.

Additionally, we have been fortunate to have the support of angel investor Vikas Tara, who shares our vision of digital inclusion for micro and small businesses.

Vikas has been a long-time friend of Krishnakant, and I worked tirelessly to perfect the pitch deck and gather resources. This support has been instrumental in our initial angel investment and has helped us drive OnlineKhata forward.

Looking ahead, OnlineKhata is rapidly evolving to meet the changing needs of businesses. We have exciting plans in the pipeline, including voice-driven invoicing, smart trend analysis, AI-based performance dashboards, and a clever budgeting module.

Our aim is not only to provide a product but to create an inclusive online trade ecosystem that promotes financial discipline and growth for semi-urban and rural businesses.

By December 2023, we expect to reach 2 million mobile app users and have 25,000 paid subscribers. We are currently in the acceleration phase and anticipate raising a series A round of funding by August 2023 to further support our growth and expansion.

Your Vision and Mission for OnlineKhata

The vision of OnlineKhata is to create a barrier-free easy to inculcate online trading ecosystem for micro traders, small service providers and rural businesses so that they have equal playing ground for business growth opportunities and can be an equal part of the entire business spectrum in India.

The mission is to make every single micro and small enterprise avail benefits of GST as well as other business opportunities by automating accounting and reporting as well as online audits through an end-to-end service.

As a woman entrepreneur, what unique challenges have you faced in the business world, and how have you overcome them?

One unique problem I faced as a female entrepreneur, particularly before my marriage, was that I could not tell my parents that I had started my own business, and the situation has not changed after marriage either.

To overcome these challenges, I believe it’s essential to stay focused on my goals and maintain confidence in my abilities.

Building a strong support network of like-minded individuals, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs has been invaluable.

Surrounding myself with people who believe in my vision and capabilities has provided the encouragement and guidance needed to navigate through obstacles.

As a founder couple we always support each other. It gives us more strength to work towards our goals and infland positive energy flows into our work as a result.

What do you believe are some of the key traits that are essential for success as an entrepreneur, and how do you cultivate those qualities in yourself?

Several key traits are essential for success as an entrepreneur.

Firstly, resilience is crucial because setbacks and challenges are inevitable in business. Being able to bounce back, learn from failures, and adapt to changing circumstances is vital for long-term success.

I cultivate resilience by maintaining a growth mindset, constantly seeking knowledge, and viewing obstacles as opportunities for growth.

Another essential trait is perseverance. Entrepreneurship requires dedication, hard work, and the ability to persist even in the face of adversity.

I maintain a strong sense of purpose and motivation by regularly revisiting my goals, visualizing success, and celebrating small victories along the way.

Adaptability is also critical as the business landscape is constantly evolving. Being open to change, embracing new technologies, and staying ahead of industry trends allows me to seize opportunities and remain competitive. Continuous learning, networking, and staying connected with industry experts help foster adaptability.

Lastly, effective communication and leadership skills are essential for building strong relationships, attracting stakeholders, and inspiring a team.

I focus on honing my communication skills, actively listening to others, and fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment.

Can you talk about a specific challenge or setback that you’ve faced in your business, and how you were able to overcome it?

One specific challenge I faced in my business was during the initial stages of OnlineKhata. We were building a product in a competitive market, and gaining traction and user adoption proved to be a significant hurdle.

Despite our innovative solution and unique value proposition, it was challenging to break through the noise and establish ourselves.

To overcome this setback, we focused on refining our marketing and outreach strategies. We actively engaged with our target audience, conducted user surveys, and implemented their feedback to improve our product.

We also leveraged social media platforms and industry-specific communities to create awareness and generate interest.

Additionally, we sought partnerships with complementary businesses and associations to expand our reach and gain credibility.

Collaborations allowed us to tap into existing networks and access potential customers who aligned with our target market.

By persistently iterating and improving our product, refining our marketing approach, and leveraging strategic partnerships, we were able to overcome the initial challenges and gradually gain momentum.

How do you balance the demands of running a business with your personal life, and what strategies have you found to be effective for maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

Firstly, setting clear boundaries and prioritizing tasks is essential. I establish a schedule that includes dedicated time for work, personal activities, and self-care.

By sticking to this schedule and avoiding the temptation to constantly work, I ensure that I have time for myself and my loved ones.

Delegating tasks and building a reliable team is also crucial. By empowering my team and entrusting them with responsibilities, I can focus on critical aspects of the business without feeling overwhelmed. This allows me to have more time for personal commitments and reduces the risk of burnout.

Additionally, practicing self-care is vital for maintaining balance. Regular exercise, meditation, and pursuing hobbies help me recharge and stay mentally and physically healthy. Disconnecting from work

What advice would you give to other women who are interested in starting their own businesses, and how can they best position themselves for success in a competitive marketplace?

For women interested in starting their own businesses, believe in yourself, find your passion and purpose, build a supportive network, continuously learn and stay updated, embrace your unique perspective, leverage technology, be resilient and adaptable, and celebrate your successes.

Remember, success as an entrepreneur requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance. Trust yourself, stay focused on your goals, and believe in your ability to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

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