November is here, and we’re rapt to reveal our app partner of the month is Aider – a digital financial assistant that delivers valuable business insights from your apps and financial data, when you need to make decisions. Aider takes a user’s business questions, like “what’s our revenue today?” and gives smart succinct answers.
Small businesses and their advisors are increasingly using technology, and generating stores of rich business data. But accessing that data and turning it into meaningful actions can often be difficult and time-consuming. Aider’s CEO and Founder, Brendan Roberts, takes us through how Aider makes this process fast and simple, and what that means for small businesses.
Digging into the data
After working alongside small businesses for years in previous roles, Brendan saw how many small business owners lacked the expertise and time to make the most of their business data. In 2017, Brendan, along with Pete Weaver, founded Aider to make that data more accessible to small businesses.
“There’s often friction between a business owner and all their organisation’s underlying data, which makes it hard for them to know what’s really going on inside their business,” he says.
Other apps use dashboards to tackle similar challenges, and Brendan saw an opportunity to create a unique solution using a ‘digital assistant’, a similar concept to Apple’s ‘Siri’ or Amazon’s ‘Alexa’. The technology that powers these solutions combines a user’s favourite apps and artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to requests. For example, a user can ask Siri to book an Uber, or give today’s weather forecast.
“Aider takes verbal or written queries from a business owner, and then scans connected apps and datasets, using algorithm-fueled AI to provide a response. To put it simply, Aider looks for the information that could be hard to find and provides a simple answer based on a business owner’s app use and data. For example, a cafe owner can ask Aider how many coffees they’ve sold, or when their next tax payment is due. Aider is also trained to understand business language and gives a response in real-time. It’s like having a rockstar employee that knows everything that’s happening,” Brendan explains.
And at the centre of Aider’s functionality lies Xero, and the detailed small business accounting data business owners count on.
“Aider’s vision is to be a digital financial assistant. So integrating with Xero was a natural first step,” Brendan says. “By plugging into other apps such as Vend, iPayroll and Google Calendar, Aider pulls all kinds of information together quickly, giving small business owners the answers they need, fast.”
Getting info on the go
Aider’s especially beneficial for small business owners on the go. The ability to connect to a business no matter where you are has been game changing for joint Xero-Aider customers, Melissa and Sank Macfarlane. While running their business, Melissa became pregnant with her second child. Trying to stay connected with the business during the first pregnancy had been challenging, and dominated her and Sank’s end-of-day conversations. Discovering Aider before number two came along helped bridge that gap.
“Having a digital assistant like Aider really helped to simplify our business and made everything less overwhelming,” Melissa tells us. “In our experience, Aider allows us to interact with our business on our own terms, and we love that it gets smarter the more we use it.”
Now with young children, Melissa works mostly from home. When Sank gets home, she’s already up-to-speed on what’s happened that day in the business and they have more time to spend together as a family.
Building towards the future
Aider has already achieved some significant recognition since its 2019 release. This includes being a Xero 2019 emerging app of the year finalist, and the first New Zealand business accepted into Mastercard’s 2019 Start Path Accelerator program.
Brendan is proud of what Aider can do, and can’t wait to make it better. The future is where Brendan and his team are focused: they’re concentrating on the next 12 months.
“For us, the key thing is next year. We’re working on a collaborative tool for accountants and bookkeepers that provides a smart overview of all their small business clients. We’re committing the next year to refining the product so it really adds value to busy accounting practices,” he tells us.
Part of what makes Aider unique is its simple, user-friendly approach that makes it easy for small business owners and advisors to make smarter decisions.
“It’s simple to set up Aider, and we love getting feedback. We think what we’ve created is new and different, and we’re excited for more people to give Aider a try,” Brendan concludes.
Access your business data quickly and get the answers you need with Aider via the Xero app marketplace. Aider is currently only available to our Australian, New Zealand and North American customers, with plans to reach more regions soon.