This CA quit his lucrative job as a Partner at a leading accounting firm in Canada to be a tech entrepreneur
- Hi, I am Atin Gupta a professionally trained Accountant from India and North America and now turned tech entrepreneur.
- The biggest goal of my life has always been to seek more and be more, because of this I kept moving on to newer jobs to learn newer things. I was basically chasing a never-ending tail!
- When I joined MNP, a leading accounting firm in Canada, I found the right place to grow. I became a partner in 2011 and the regional lead for Technology practice in the Toronto office.
- In 2019, after 13 years at MNP, I took a leap of faith, quit my job, and co-founded Countable.co - an online platform to make engagements simpler for small to medium-sized accounting firms.
- Here is my story that goes all the way from Ludhiana, India to Toronto, Canada.
A brief look at my roots!
I hail from a city called Ludhiana in the state of Punjab, India.
My journey from the age of 11 has been nothing short of “an adventure”. My dad passed away when I was very young and my mom and stepdad raised my sister and me.
When it was time to make a decision on my career path, my mom was sure that accounting should be my subject in grade 11-12 with the intent to register for CA alongside. I got hooked to accounting and loved every minute of it and pursuing CA seemed to be a natural progression.
I qualified as a CA in the year 2000.
Like most 20-year-olds, I had no idea what to do after I completed my CA.
I come from a part of the world where most people ran small businesses, however, I didn’t have enough resources to start a new business or set up a practice. So, the obvious option before me was to seek a job.
I started my career working for a local accounting firm that was well known for a certain type of work. The work was mostly - search and seizure cases and so I got good exposure in appellate tribunal cases and supreme court citations.
I realized that if I continued working here, I would climb up the ladder and go from junior manager to senior manager and to a Partner in a few years. I was not sure if this was what I wanted.
CPA US, starting my own & Canadian immigration
I wanted to do well in life and moving to a bigger city or maybe another country seemed to be a good idea. So, after 6 months at the firm, I quit and decided to do CPA US.
I have to mention, that while pursuing CPA US, I applied for Canadian immigration. (I always loved the cold weather and taking into consideration the opportunities available, Canada made sense.)
I had to move to Delhi to do the Becker CPA course for US CPA and after completing that course I went to America to write the exams.
Fast forward, the first attempt I cleared all the exams but one, so I had to go again to Denver, USA to write it again. This time I got a job offer to go to Phoenix to work on a project basis. Here I found a fraud that led me to win the trust of the owners and they wanted to outsource the business to India.
I took this as an opportunity to start BPO in India along with a friend of mine who was already an established partner of an accounting firm in Delhi. This was in 2002.
My career suddenly started taking shape.
Off on a new adventure - Immigrating to Canada
As I was running the BPO serving some of the clients in the US and was happily settled in Delhi with a decent income, I got a notice that I got through immigration! This was after almost 1.5 years of my application. (Back then, the application process was not so transparent and no real-time updates were available.)
It was really a tough call to make, however, as a 26-year old, I decided to move to Canada and make the most of this opportunity.
I had made up mind not to stay in Canada forever instead my plan was to gain international work exposure, make some money and return to India in a few years, to start my own practice or business in Delhi! (Do things ever happen as we plan? I wonder!)
In March 2004, I landed in Canada as an immigrant!
Setting up my career in a new country
Once in Canada, I was eager to work as I was done with getting degrees (Indian CA & CPA US) and had family back home that needed money as well!
I was under the impression that with very little public accounting experience, I wouldn’t be able to get a job as a manager with a CPA firm.
I didn’t want to start in a junior position after having worked hard to obtain two degrees so, I registered for CGA (Certified General Accountants).
After struggling to find a job for almost 6 months, owing to a fortunate turn of events, I got an offer from one of the recruiters at Robert Half temp division! They found something for me in a Not for Profit organization for minimum hourly wage rate.
I was so happy that things were just going to work out now and I decided that I won’t let anything fail from this point forward.
After working with them for 3 months, I was offered a permanent role, however, this new offer was for significantly less pay than what I was looking for.
So, I turned it down.
Forging ahead in a big public accounting firm
The recruiter really liked my work ethic that he made it his mission to find me another job and he did find me one as Finance manager.
By now, I had excellent accounting knowledge and did everything I could to keep that job. In a few months, I was made permanent. However, I soon realized that I wouldn’t be able to make any “real” money unless I went into public accounting. (That’s just what my beliefs were back then.)
I started looking for firms that could possibly give me a junior role with the possibility to move into a manager role quickly.
After three months of dedicated search, I finally got an offer in Sept 2006 to be a manager in the private equity practice of a well-known local boutique firm.
In 2008, this firm merged with MNP a leading national accounting, tax, and business consulting firm in Canada.
Making partner within a few years in the Technology practice
MNP had already quite a few tech clients but they were scattered among different partners. The firm decided to start a niche segment focused on technology, media, and telecommunications.
In 2011, I became a partner.
Since I was a new partner with a lot of passion for technology, the start-up world, in particular, we started building the practice and had an amazing run.
I then became the regional lead for Technology practice in the Toronto office.
MNP firm gave me a gift for life that transformed me...I had become a butterfly that could never go back to being a caterpillar.
Entrepreneurial leap after a 13-year stint at the firm
I loved every minute at the firm but public accounting, in general, is a stressful field where expectations to deliver your best is the norm.
Of course, this is what is expected from any professional so our profession was no different.
I was making more money than I needed; I had more stress than I cared to have; I was running through time without really enjoying the benefits of what I had. I felt drained and exhausted by the end of the day, every day.
I couldn’t remember a time when was I truly at peace. There was some sort of anxiety and stress that became a part of my mind and body alike. It was as if I was conditioned to take on that stress.
There came a time I did not want to live such a stressful life and I decided to quit the firm where I worked for almost 13 years.
I went ahead and gave my notice to the firm.
By Oct 2018, while serving my notice period, I got an idea to create a platform for accounting firms to help manage their practice, their workflow, their documents, automate their work, gain efficiencies every step of the way and much more.
However, as I got relieved from the firm, I had no insight into what I was going to do with my idea.
In a few months, I met a friend and client who is now my co-founder and has been in the tech field for quite some time. He liked the idea and we worked on this vision (at my condo) for almost 8 months before we could make sense of anything.
We tried out a few different prototypes and wrote a whole bunch of ideas and things started to fall in place.
More and more people came along to buy into the process. My connections and relationships I had forged over the years supported my vision and helped shape it over time.
We launched our platform Countable on Oct 12, 2020.
We are at a very infancy stage and there is way too much to do. Our goal is to improve people's lives and give back the most valuable commodity “time” so they can choose to either make more money or enjoy time with their family as they choose.
Now that I look back on the journey of my life, I feel that it has been nothing short of a miracle.
My career has been always challenging with little to no stability. I just keep leaping into new things and doors keep opening for me.
My message to you would be:
- Find out who you are and what your true nature is and what your purpose in life is
- Learn to have a relationship with pain. This is where growth happens. You can’t grow in comfort
- Practicing Acceptance/surrender/letting go to live a more conscious life
- You don’t plan to make money. It's just an outcome – when you enjoy the process of aligning your passion with a purpose bigger than yourself, money just comes in
- Learn to be curious about everything
- Learn to leap through your fear and life happens on the other side of fear
- Be kind to everyone
Atin Gupta is the Co-Founder and CEO of Countable an end-to-end online platform that makes engagements simpler for small to medium-sized accounting firms.
Now It's Your Turn...
Have questions for Atin or need some guidance, Atin is more than happy to help. Comment below and let us know. Also, would you ever quit your lucrative job to be an entrepreneur?
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