- Botkeeper, a Boston-based bot startup, just raised $18 million from Greycroft and Gradient Ventures, Google's investment arm.
- The idea for Botkeeper came from the shortcomings of a college business project, when founder and CEO Enrico Palmerino's business ran out of cash for a month because accounting couldn't keep up.
- Botkeeper automates bookkeeping and accounting using artificial-intelligence technologies. The company plans to use the money it raised to improve its software and hire team members.
- The company says its tools are in use by everyone from software companies to Uber drivers.
When Botkeeper founder and CEO Enrico Palmerino was in college, he started a business to automate the design of lighting systems. It began as a class project, but the business ended up growing quickly.
Ultimately, he just couldn't keep up with the logistical day-to-day busywork of accounting, and Palmerino's business ran entirely dry of cash and stayed that way for an entire month.
"It was very painful," Palmerino told Business Insider. "It was the first time I encountered how important bookkeeping was to a business. Bad bookkeeping could cripple a perfectly good company."
This gave Palmerino an idea for another business: What if he could automate bookkeeping?
"People aren't capable of entering the data fast enough," Palmerino said.
So in late 2015, Palmerino, who has a background as a venture capitalist, recruited a team and started building and testing an early version of an accounting bot. This would evolve to become Botkeeper — as in "robot bookkeeper"— a Boston-based startup that automatically ingests a company's financials and spits out dashboards and other up-to-the-minute data. It officially launched in 2016.
Now, Botkeeper just closed in on $18 million in a Series A round, led by Greycroft and Gradient Ventures, an artificial-intelligence-focused investment organization within Google. This marks one of the largest Series A rounds ever closed by a company based in Boston.
With $18 million in hand, Botkeeper will continue working on its AI technology and will invest in hiring, marketing, and enhancements to a new accounting partner platform. In the coming months, Botkeeper will launch a new version of its software that lets its clients manage everything from paying bills to payroll.
"What's cool is we can do the work using machine learning and AI instead of a large team of people," Palmerino said.
In January, Botkeeper raised $4.5 million in seed funding. It's been expanding its team ever since. As of right now, it has 52 employees, with plans to hire more, and customers of all shapes and sizes using it to run their business — the company says that everyone from software companies to restaurants to Uber drivers are using it to manage their financials.
"I think our biggest challenge has been keeping up with some of the growth," Palmerino said. "We didn't expect we would grow 10 times faster in terms of client acquisition. That meant onboarding a ton of companies and understanding those nuances, as well as the different niche and industry requirements of accounting."