Well…100,000 users…quite an accomplishment. I predicted we’d reach this milestone, but I figured it would not happen until December and here we are in early November.
Milestones like this inspire reflection. Here is a brief summary of what we’ve done, what we’re doing and where we’re going to go here at FreshBooks.
What We’ve Done
Joe and I founded the company in January 2003. We were doing web design and development projects for various clients. We built FreshBooks for ourselves and very quickly realized that other businesses needed a painless billing solution. We put our heads down and got to work.
March 2004 we hired Levi and May 2004 we released our first public version of the service. Since then we have released 16 upgrades of our service and have grown our team from three to six by adding Jeff, Kathy and Daniel. We still have 5% of our users with us from 2004…amazing when you think about it. They’ve been with us as we’ve grown and sent us the feedback we rely on to continuously improve our service. They stuck with us as we re-branded our service from 2ndSite (don’t ask me what Joe and I were thinking with that name) to FreshBooks.
What We are Doing
To date we have been on a mission to redefine invoicing. We are succeeding in many ways. Through case studies with our users we know we are changing people’s behavior around the process of billing their clients.
Instead of waiting until the end of the month to prepare invoices, FreshBooks users consistently tell us that they invoice as they work because the process with FreshBooks is so quick and easy. The result? FreshBooks users get paid faster because they send their invoices earlier. Most FreshBooks users report they actually collect MORE revenue from their clients thanks to FreshBooks. This finding STUNNED us when we conducted a survey last year. Why do they collect more revenue? Because when they wait until the end of the month to invoice they forget about work that they did and under-report their hours. When they use FreshBooks, they don’t wait to invoice and they don’t forget the work they did. Here are some of the results from our FreshBooks users:
- On average all respondents spent less than one third the time invoicing with FreshBooks than they did without (from an average of 7 days down to 2 days)
- All respondents were paid faster (an average of 20 days faster)
- 75% of those surveyed were collecting more money on average (31% had more than a 15% increase in collections)
We are very proud of these results, but we did not stop after we’d done all that.
Next we released a service that allows our users to send their invoices, not just by email, but via first class mail through the US Post. Our partner sends over one billion pieces of mail a year. We receive our invoices in two or three days in our Toronto office. They seem to take about four days to get the United Kingdom. We also updated our API and added the capability to send ground mail invoices through the US Post via our API so businesses could leverage our billing platform and integrate with their existing systems and processes.
Just last month we raised the bar again and reshaped what our industry can be by making strides to deliver industry benchmarks to our clients that they can use to measure their performance against similar businesses. Once we have benchmarks for various metrics, we are going to seek out best performers for the metrics and interview them so they can share their insights with other FreshBooks users.
Where We are Going To Go
What we have in store next is perhaps the most exciting piece of the puzzle so far. In the coming months we are going to release a new version of FreshBooks. It will include a redesign of our timesheet. Here is a sneak peak:
On the surface this may not seem like anything special – but under the hood it most certainly is. Included in this redesign will be the capability to add fellow FreshBooks users – who have their own FreshBooks accounts – to the projects you track time on. Today FreshBooks allows you to add staff to your timesheet projects and you pay the bill. But in some cases this does not make sense, so you need to add other FreshBooks users.
Imagine a scenario where your company brings in a project and you have to contract freelancers for your project. You force those workers to log into your time tracking account and submit their hours. For them, logging into your account is a pain – especially because those same contract workers might be working on other projects and therefore may have to log into multiple time tracking accounts to submit their hours. Since this is a pain and we’re all about painless billing, we’re relieving this pain in our next release.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be delivering to our users and their contractors and co-workers this new dimension of our service. And believe it or not, this announcement is just the tip of the iceberg – we have a list as long as Santa Claus’ up our proverbial sleeve…a list that will aim to completely re-invent invoicing and time management.
In the meantime, all you FreshBooks users our there, help us get the work word out about our service. Go visit your FreshBooks referral page by logging into you account, clicking the “Refer FreshBooks” link on your Home tab. There you can get banners and links for your website as well as something new – a co-branded referral page. Here is a sample of what it looks like.
Next stop: 1,000,000 users. We can do it with your help. Thanks for reading and please stay tuned for more goodies.