Muhammed Shafeekh, CEO of Finance AI company Finanshels
The Dark Side of Building a Business
Shafeekh's personal experience as a founder and CFO highlights the dark side of building a business, particularly the financial burden that can cause entrepreneurs to go into debt and crisis. He shared a story about a friend who went through financial troubles, he commented, "There is a dark side about running a business when it fails which is not much talked about. Many founders take risks, put all their life into starting a business and there is a huge hit when they eventually fail. I have seen two suicides in my past from founders due to the high debt."
This underscores the importance of financial management and the need for improved accounting practices, which is what Finanshels aims to provide.
He added, "If you dig down deep, it's not the problem with founders, it's the problem with finance operations as a whole. Accountants run stills on conventional models, just counting beans rather than becoming business advisors. Excel sheets are flying back and forth, and most of the time, founders are blind about their financial health while making decisions."
The Importance of Improved Accounting Practices
Shafeekh emphasized the importance of improved accounting practices to address the high failure rate of SMEs in the Middle East, "Why are many failing? I'm seeing a lot of SMEs dying due to poor financial decisions. If you look at the statistics in the Middle East, which is 50%, out of which 82% of SMEs failure rates are due to poor finance management."
To tackle this problem, Finanshels is developing a digital platform that enables founders to monitor their financial health in real-time, using a dashboard and a chatbot that can provide immediate answers to financial queries.
Finanshels' Business Model and Services
Finanshels' business model and services are tech-enabled and based on a subscription model. They help founders and CFOs improve their financial performance by managing their finance operations. Shafeekh believes that in the next decade, 90% of accountants' operations will be automated, and accountants will become business advisors rather than number crunchers.
Finanshels.com is dedicated to fostering the growth of resilient businesses in the Middle East by implementing a purpose-driven expansion strategy that empowers them to thrive sustainably.
The Changing Accounting Industry
Shafeekh noted that the accounting industry is changing and becoming more automated, with heavy operational and human-intensive processes being automated. He believes that all operations in the accounting industry can be automated in the future, and Finanshels is ahead of the market because it recognizes this shift and is mission-driven.
"However, a lot of this excel crunching can be automated and can give real-time insights to founders on their financial health.”
The company's approach to market research and identifying new opportunities for growth involves heavily relying on macroeconomic trends in the region and speaking to as many founders as possible every day.
The Role of Technology in Accounting
In terms of technology, Shafeekh explained that Finanshels is using generative AI and Google Products, rather than blockchain. He acknowledged that he does not have a background in programming or AI but has worked closely with technology professionals in the past and understands how technology works.
Shafeekh believes that the appropriate use of technology can revolutionize the accounting industry, but cautioned against becoming too reliant on it.