Abukai: Generate Expense Reports With A Snapshot

Expense reports are a pain. And, as if tabulating the amount you’ve spent on each trip wasn’t enough (not to mention keeping track of all the receipts), many businesses have archaic systems that make submitting a report even more arduous. Fortunately there are a few services looking to help make things easier — and some of them make it as simple as taking a snapshot with your phone.

One such service is Abukai, a startup that was founded last summer. Here’s how it works: first, you take photos of your receipts using the service’s iPhone, Android, or Blackberry applications. Hit submit, and the service will try to generate a full expense report, complete with categorizations.

The service uses a variety of tricks to make the report as complete as possible — if the receipt has a phone number on it, for example, the service will automatically look it up in a location database. You can annotate each submission with notes (for example, if you want to point out that a dinner was with a client). In addition to generating reports in standard Excel and QuickBooks formats, Abukai also works with businesses on a case-by-case basis to create custom templates.

The 10-person company has been self-funded so far (CEO Philipp Schloter sold his last company to Nokia).

Of course, many of the employees who stand to benefit from this kind of tool aren’t necessarily in a position to switch — they’ll need to convince their bosses that it’s a good idea, too. To help with this, Abukai has built a ROI calculator that produces rough figures on how much money a business will save, based on how much less time their employees will need to spend on expense reports. Granted, this is a biased calculator (Abukai wants to show that you’re saving a lot of money), but it’s hard to ignore just how much time is wasted on expense reports.

Abukai isn’t the only service looking to make expense reports less painful. One competitor is Expensify, which also offers a photo scanning feature.