(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth article in a five-part series profiling the start-ups that are participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “CodeWorks” accelerator. “Demo Day” for the six teams in the program is tomorrow night, December 17.)
Financial Cents is a start-up co-founded by Shahram Zarshenas, a brand new graduate of the University of Tennessee (UT) with degrees in Supply Chain and Business Analytics, and Leroy Leese, a Senior Software Engineer at AVG Technologies. The company recently placed second in the “Fall Vol Court” business plan competition hosted by the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the UT Haslam College of Business.
How did you come-up with the name? Once I came-up with the idea for the start-up, I couldn’t really think of a good name for it. So I thought it would be a good idea to go talk to accountants and small business owners and see if it would just come to me as I learned more about their problem. After a while, the name Financial Cents came to me after an interview with a small business in downtown Knoxville.
What is the problem you are trying to solve or opportunity on which you are trying to capitalize? We want to help small businesses understand the story behind their numbers with simplicity and ultimately give them the opportunity to empower their business through financial clarity.
When did you first start thinking that your idea might warrant starting a company? This past January, several of my family members were going through some tough financial times with their own business. Seeing this I knew that I could find a way to help them and others like them facing similar financial situations.
What motivated you to apply for “CodeWorks”? I heard about it at the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and thought this would be a great way to put our idea and team to the test. I am excited to see what they have in store for us.
At this stage, what has been your biggest aha event where your eyes were opened to something that you had not considered? I think when I realized that accountants could also gain value from our software by helping them improve their customer service and client satisfaction. We have the opportunity to help them deliver a more personable interaction with their clients while exerting little effort.
What do you hope to achieve/where do you hope your company is when the 12-week accelerator ends? By the end of the 12-week accelerator, we hope to have our software fully functional with the necessary features requested by our customers. We also hope to be prepared for a public launch with close to 1,000 pre-registered users.