Customer Portrait: Homestars crosses 10,000 invoices in FreshBooks

September 6, 2011

Congratulations to, a FreshBooks customer, who recently crossed over 10,000 invoices in their FreshBooks account! We sat down with Brian Sharwood, president of, to find out how they got their start and how hiring the right people for their team has been key to their success.

Tell us a little bit about how Homestars got started?

HomeStars was started when founder, Nancy Peterson, was in the middle of a challenging renovation and realized there must be a better way of finding great contractors. Inspired by TripAdvisor, she set out to create a site where homeowners could share their experiences on home improvement so others could find the best contractors and avoid the nightmare of a home project gone wrong.

Why did you join the business? Or how did it come about?

About 5 years ago I bought a one-hundred year old house in downtown Toronto and undertook a full top-to-bottom renovation. Before I stared the project I ran into Nancy at her first Home Show and loved the HomeStars concept. At that time in the home improvement space, there was very minimal information available, especially not social media content like reviews. HomeStars became my go-to site to find people to help on my project. Two years later I joined Nancy and the team, inspired to continue to grow the company and change how the home improvement is marketed online.

What’s your favorite part of running Homestars?

I love working with great, motivated people who share in our belief that we are building great online tools for homeowners to have successful home improvement projects. When I started there were just five others, and now our team is almost twenty. Each of them bring their own skills and energy to the team and inspire me to continue to build the company. I am also inspired daily by the experiences of our customers who see their businesses grow. Like those at FreshBooks, we are privileged to have some great entrepreneurs as customers who care deeply about their businesses, and we love it when we can help them grow.

If you had to tell other businesses one piece of advice, what would you tell them?

The core of any great business is a great team and a great culture that goes with it. Be sure to hire people who are as inspired as you are behind the idea.  Great people bring inspiration to others who join the team, and success comes from all those people working together behind a common goal.

What other “cloud” based applications do you use at Homestars?

The HomeStars team is based across the country. We have members in places such as Peterborough, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Orlando, Barrie. While we have an office, we only use it some of the time, so we rely on many “cloud-based” applications.

FreshBooks – for Invoicing
GrassHopper – virtual phone service
MadMimi – eMail marketing
Skype & Google Hangouts – Messaging and Communication
Basecamp & Redmine – Project Management
Google Documents – Document Sharing is a growing online community of homeowners and home improvement companies throughout Canada and the U.S. HomeStars offers a free service for homeowners to find reputable renovators, repairmen and retailers by searching its database of almost 2 million companies.

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.