Open Sourcing TallyAssist — a mobile business app for MSMEs

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What is TallyAssist? And, why we thought a mobile business solution for MSMEs was needed?

Beginning of 2020, Akash and I got excited to solve a problem for MSMEs aka micro, small, and medium enterprises. From our personal experiences of working with MSMEs, or with family businesses in our close circles, we realized that most MSMEs that we know we’re not able to make sense of their data. And, most MSMEs were primarily using accounting software like Tally ERP 9 to maintain their data around customers, products, sales, purchases, etc.

The idea wasn’t novel, but much needed, to create something that can help MSMEs make sense of their business — a simple dashboard for the business owner, important reports (accounts payable, accounts receivables, etc.), and the ability to create a quick invoice, or send PDFs of invoices to the customer from mobile phones appealed to us. We checked out existing market products around taking Tally data on mobile and didn’t find them very user friendly, but we found people were actively using these products, and therefore, got down to creating a better user experience for a business assistant for small-medium businesses.

Two months of brainstorming, learning Flutter, creating an MVP, getting a Tally connector built, we were ready to launch. And, then, we heard the news — Tally (the most used desktop accounting app) had released a web version that allows people to access data on the web directly, as well as on mobile, so now, we were in direct competition with Tally. We decided to drop the bomb on the project. We thought our product would naturally be killed in due course. A few weeks later — we realized that our approach was wrong, and we should focus on getting one workflow right for our users, so we decided to pivot to an invoicing app or a billing app that can make invoices very fast. And, we put our second iteration of MVP on PlayStore. The early users and testers who tried our quick and dirty Flutter app did like it and demanded more features, but we figured that during the COVID-19 times, we won’t be able to market the product. While most of our target market is busy making ends meet, digital transformation is something that wasn’t the primary aim (contrary to most articles online) for our target users, and we decided to close down the project.

But, we are open-sourcing the code!

Here’s the codebase:

TallyAssist was built on open source technology — Flutter & Dart — that could help us create the MVP in such a short time. A non-developer and a data engineer came together to create a fully functional and integrated application in Flutter, thanks to its great open source community. We think the modules we created for TallyAssist can be very useful for people who are trying to create mobile billing applications for MSMEs, or at least to drive POCs whether within businesses or at product companies. And, therefore, we have decided to open-source the codebase. So, what can you use from TallyAssist:

  1. A PDF generator: we created a way to generate invoices as pre-styled PDFs, similar to Tally’s format.
  2. Invoice generator: one module handles creating invoices from the app itself- the entire workflow can be really useful for companies or products trying to create mobile billing experience.
  3. A ledger or a khata: we created a way to build a simple ledger app in Flutter for businesses to track quick transactions.
  4. Simple business reports for MSMEs like accounts receivables, accounts payables, customer profiles, etc.

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