Few jobs require more boring drudgery than what accountants have to deal with on a daily basis when performing an audit — they literally spend their time making sure that numbers in one column reflect what numbers in a bunch of other columns should add up to. Beyond the nature of the work, the actual process for verifying all those numbers isn't pretty. According to AuditFile CEO Steven Bong, most CPAs he's encountered built their workflow on top of the Microsoft Office suite, keeping track of accounts in massive spreadsheets and audit progress in Word documents. A typical audit will have hundreds of steps of verification, and some don't have to be done depending on the results of other steps. But because they'd have to go back and search through Word documents to see those results, huge swaths of time are wasted just figuring out what to work on next. Bong saw this inefficiency as an opportunity, and in 2011 set out to create a service that would put the entire process in a simple web app. After two years of development, AuditFile landed its first paying client in 2013 — a 15-person accounting firm based in San Francisco. Once it was able to prove that it could significantly increase productivity, Bong says the company began to hunt down bigger game. Today, AuditFile's clients employ 300 accountants on average, and the majority of accountants at each firm use their software. To expand, the company is increasing the size of its sales force and building out its app so that it can be used for internal corporate audits, in the hopes that it can become a killer app for finance teams at Fortune 500 companies. Neither of those plans are cheap, which is why the company recently raised $3 million in a round led by Banneker Ventures that also included investments from Tim Draper, the rapper Nas, Rothenberg Ventures, and Ray Tonsing. As part of its new sales efforts, the company is rolling out a nationwide ad campaign that includes some old-school strategies for getting attention. Cold-calling, a direct mail campaign, and print ads in the Journal of Accountancy are all part of the plan, which sounds outdated in 2014 — until you remember that this is the same group that managed one of its most important tasks by manually logging progress in Word documents.
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