1. Hello Lionel, can you please tell us a bit about you?
Hello, I’m Lionel Charles, founder of IndiaFilings.com, a platform dedicated to helping budding entrepreneurs. A bit about my background, after completing my schooling in Chennai, I moved to the US to pursue my undergraduate degree in accounting and computer science. At the same time, I worked towards obtaining a commercial pilot license. I followed this up with an MBA in Airline Management and a Certified Public Accountant license. On graduation, I worked with Lufthansa Systems as a marketing professional and moved to India in 2010 to start my own entrepreneurial venture. After a couple of entrepreneurial hits and misses for 3 years (can’t help being a serial entrepreneur), I started IndiaFilings.com in October 2013.
2. What are your focus areas and why?
My focus has always been to change the landscape of business services in India. I want to make entrepreneurship a reality for each and every person in my country and to be responsible for the inception and compliance of over 1 million businesses over the next couple of years. I endeavor to ensure that each and every individual, be it in a town or a big city has access to business services at affordable costs and the ability to operate the same without regulatory/ legal glitches. We are now transitioning to becoming a SAAS company with a diverse set of GST software and GST return filing solutions for SMEs and Medium Sized businesses in India.
3. What influences your work? What makes you want to wake up every morning?
The ability to make a difference in people’s lives keep me going every day. Earning a decent livelihood is at the top of each individual’s priority and starting one’s own business is a major milestone. The ability to help these budding entrepreneurs is what helps me wake up and work long hours every day.
4. What should people expect when meeting you in person?
Most people who meet me comment on the boundless energy levels that I possess along with the passion for making a difference in the community that I live and work in. I also like everyone around me to have lots of energy and enthusiasm for the things they do. That’s why I named the company that operates IndiaFilings.com as VERVE Financial Services Private Limited.
5. Where do you think you are making an impact?
We are making an impact in the lives of millions of Entrepreneurs by making it affordable for people to start and operate a business in India. Before we started, the process for starting or maintaining compliance for a business used to be a cumbersome affair costing a lot of money. So many Entrepreneurs shy away from Entrepreneurship or end up creating companies that become non-compliant over time. With our services, we have been able to change this and provide an online, easy and affordable way for Entrepreneurs to start and manage a business.
6. Can you tell us more about IndiaFilings?
IndiaFilings is India’s business services platform offering a range of services from company registration to trademark filing to tax return preparation. We help Entrepreneurs on the legal, tax and regulatory requirements, and be a partner throughout the business lifecycle, offering support at every stage to ensure the business remains compliant and continually growing.
We started in September 2013. We now operate 5 different offices and have a team size of over 250. We have served clients across the Globe and we are growing at a very healthy rate.
7. Where do see yourself in the next 5 years?
GST or Goods and Services Tax was recently introduced in India, completely overhauling the indirect tax regime. We are now aiming to help a lot of businesses with their tax compliance. Under GST, businesses would have to file 37 tax returns a year. So, we are developing our tax compliance platform called LEDGERS to automate much of the tax filing work and reduce the compliance burden for business owners.
So, I believe IndiaFilings will pivot to a SAAS company over the next few years and help millions of Indian businesses file their tax returns and maintain compliance.
8. What can you tell young entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dreams?
I feel young entrepreneurs need to dream big. Being an entrepreneur and starting your own venture is a tough experience which requires enormous hard work and sacrifices so do not limit your dreams and sell yourself short. Dream big and rise against the odds so that your efforts are worth the outcome in the end. Entrepreneurship is synonymous with failure and that too repeated failure. Hence it is important to develop the resilience to deal with failure and rise against the odds. Learn from your mistakes, continue to work hard and never give up no matter how difficult the circumstances. It is important for everyone to take responsibility for themselves. It is the responsibility of the entrepreneur to fight for and obtain success even if it comes at the cost of relationships, peace, sleep etc. If all resources are put to use with faith, strength, wisdom, confidence, discipline and hard work, then wonders will happen so work hard and keep the faith. Respect all individuals who have impacted you as well as your business no matter how big or small their contribution has been. Respecting and spreading positivity has a boomerang effect and you will certainly benefit from the same. Least but not the least set small goals and take small steps every day to make your dreams a reality.
9. What are you most excited about at the moment?
I am most excited about the GST rollout in India. With our GST software solution and GST offerings, our addressable market has increased by over 100x. So, we are excited in helping out millions of businesses with their compliance. Also, with GST there is extensive use of tech and this excites me very much, given my background in Computer Science and working for the Airline Industry.
10. The last word or final thoughts?
Never give excuses. Never give up.