Katana was founded in 2017 with the vision of a world where manufacturers love the software they use as much as the products they make. After crafting an idea for a streamlined manufacturing and inventory management solution, the team set about making their vision a reality.
Raising the needed funds and building a prototype in 2017, Katana—a name that was chosen to pay tribute to the Toyota Production System (TPS) of lean manufacturing processes—went live with their first paying customer in early 2018. Katana is now an end-to-end, cloud-based manufacturing solution that connects to the world’s leading business tools and platforms, including QuickBooks.
Says Cohen, “Native e-commerce and accounting integrations with platforms like Shopify and QuickBooks Online allow our customers to embed their manufacturing software into the tech stack they already use, making Katana the central source of truth they can reliably build on.”
He adds, “Thousands of manufacturers trust Katana’s cloud manufacturing platform to get the visibility they need to stay aligned and make the right decisions. Manufacturers rely on Katana day in and day out for inventory management, production planning, scheduling, and more. Their ratings place us as an industry-leading solution in multiple categories, particularly for ease-of-use and flexibility.”
The overall 4.7 rating in the QuickBooks App Store bears out his claim. Five-star reviewer Daniel writes: “I am growing a small manufacturing start-up business. I needed an affordable solution that is scalable. I found Katana and am so glad that I did. I am constantly impressed with the functionality of this software and could not recommend Katana more for anyone trying to figure out a smart and efficient way to handle their manufacturing processes.”
He also notes that the support he’s received from the Katana team has been “exceptional”—a sentiment echoed by reviewer Hans, who writes: “With limited experience on setting up a manufacturing software product I had my doubts on being successful. Two factors played a major role though in my eventual success i.e. a broad spectrum of training videos and, especially, online support. This is going to be a very effective and efficient tool for monitoring our margins.”
In addition to superb support, Katana’s success can be attributed to recognizing that the all-in-one approach to manufacturing software that was so popular 10 to 20 years ago is no longer applicable today. According to Cohen, times have changed with the advent of open APIs and traditional manufacturing software is “clunky, complex to adopt, and frustrating to use for modern manufacturers.” Cohen adds that “in the modern world of APIs and seamless integrations, manufacturers today want to use best-in-class software from various software categories rather than a single system.”
Overcoming Challenges with the Developer Growth Program
For Cohen, Katana and QuickBooks Online combined are a “powerful way to run a modern manufacturing business”. As active participants in the Intuit ecosystem, he and his team decided to search for opportunities to make a meaningful impact. When they found Intuit’s Developer Growth Program, they were immediately drawn to its ability to not only enhance their joint customer experience but also help overcome their challenges.
“The biggest challenge is catering to the diverse needs of manufacturers—different workflows, business models, industries, and tech stacks. On top of built-in inventory, production, and reporting features, Katana’s cloud manufacturing platform integrates with the services manufacturers need to be an end-to-end manufacturing software solution without the bulk,” Cohen says.
By working directly with Inuit’s UX and engineering departments, the Katana team has been able to leverage Intuit’s expertise as they expand their service and products. And Cohen believes the accountant panel that includes Helina Patience, CPA, CMA, Entreflow Consulting Group, and Jacint Tumacder, Solutions Engineer, Intuit, has offered them a different—and necessary—perspective.
“Katana integrates with QuickBooks Online, so accountants, bookkeepers, and controllers get a real-time view of inventory, purchases, sales, and costs to improve their daily and monthly tasks,” he says. “Katana works with many accountants as key partners, many of whom have QuickBooks Online accounts. Understanding their requirements is essential in order to ensure that we are covering the necessary workflows and data points to support their needs.”
Looking Forward to the Future with Intuit
Though Katana’s participation in the Developer Growth Program is still in its early days, Cohen believes it’s already been a beneficial process. For example, the feedback they’ve received from the Intuit team—who Cohen describes as “helpful, organized and supportive”—has confirmed that Katana’s focus and priorities for its cloud manufacturing platform are in the right place.
When asked whether a partnership like the Developer Growth Program is helpful for other app companies, Cohen says, “Leveraging expertise from Intuit helps us continue to build a product that serves accountants as much as it does manufacturers. The Intuit team has experience in scaling and developing multiple solutions for the accounting community, and their understanding of accountants’ needs from a software perspective is critical in guiding Katana as we continue to develop our integration with QuickBooks.”
And Cohen appreciates Intuit’s desire to be an authentic partner. “There’s a genuine eagerness to help drive true partnership and many opportunities to share feedback both ways. What’s been most impressive is the support from senior leadership. Not only are they participating in meetings, but they continuously solidify their strategy and QuickBooks Online’s approach to building a platform to cater to the needs of SMBs and keep us aligned.”
In fact, Cohen indicates that he’d love to establish a similar process at Katana to help support their ecosystem of partners. “It’s been an inspiring collaboration, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future brings.”