The Massachusetts startup tech company Ziptr has its eye on CPA firms that need to securely communicate and exchange documents with clients.
CEO Firdaus Bhathena is a serial software company entrepreneur who has founded two other previous startups: WebLine Communications, which he sold to Cisco Systems for $325 million in 1999, and Relicore, which he sold to Symantec in 2006 for an undisclosed sum. He was also the first employee at two other software startups.
He started his latest venture with $1.5 million in seed funding from friends and family in 2010, and in 2011 received a Series A round of $6.8 million in financing from Fairhaven Capital Partners in Cambridge, Mass.
With his latest startup, he decided that accountants at small firms were the perfect target audience. Ziptr combines the concepts of the online portal, document management, secure email and file encryption.
“I started Ziptr because I was sick and tired of exchanging files through a portal,” he said Thursday during a visit to the Accounting Today offices. Both a desktop version and Web version of Ziptr are available. The software integrates with Microsoft Outlook and can be accessed from an Apple iPhone to provide email notifications of pending messages and files. Accountants and their clients log on to exchange secure messages and files such as tax return documents. Ziptr is updated every four to six weeks, and most of the features have come from user suggestions, Bhathena noted.
The company is still fairly small, and includes 12 software developers, including some from Bhathena’s previous startups, and senior director of marketing Caralyn Quigley Stern, who accompanied Bhathena on the visit. The Burlington, Mass.-based company has been signing up local CPA firms like DiCicco, Gulman & Co. in Boston and Woburn, Mass., and Witts CPA Inc. in Drakut, Mass. Through a deal with the Massachusetts Society of CPAs, Ziptr is offering a 20 percent discount on the price of the software. It comes with 2 gigabytes of free online storage.
So far, about 200 accounting firms are either using the software or trying it out. Bhathena and Stern have also been visiting various accounting-related trade shows and tech events, and reaching out to accounting technology consulting firms like Boomer Consulting, K2 Enterprises as well as the Thriveal CPA Network to gauge their interest. For more information, visit www.ziptr.com.
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