Concept

Freee seeks to do just that – free people up from paperwork. The online service brings automation and online syncing to piles of paperwork. The tech is easy to use without accounting knowledge and can be used at every stage of a company’s development, from starting a company to managing it. Founder Daisuke Sasaki said, “At work, there was a person doing accounting, inputting information all day long on his computer. I just wanted to eliminate that task.”

How they’re disrupting

Freee have the largest share of both cloud “accounting” and “personnel and labor relations” software market in Japan. More and more people are coming round to it, because they can see it is simpler and efficient (both in terms of time and money) than the paper-based model.

Disruption potential

In Japan there are around 4 million small and medium businesses (SMBs), and only about 10% of small businesses in Japan use online banking. It is a country still tied to using paper for wages, supplier payments, wire transfers and fax communication, long after most other nations. This is a waste not only of paper, but also human resources, which are currently low in Japan. Freee can be used not only for small businesses and entrepreneurs, but also government agencies, which still use paper.

Investments and future

Freee is one of Japan’s hottest and best-funded startups, so far raising a total of $84.5 million from investors to fuel its growth. It is currently focusing on developing its AI lab, and becoming the go-to platform for Japanese SMBs for accounting and HR matters. There are also plans to expand within the Asian market in the future, as the technology can easily be applied to other countries.