FreshBooks’ easy recurring invoicing and payments, and "fantastic" customer service allowed tech startup Streann Media to be nimble in a fast-moving industry. Click here to watch Gio's video.
When Gio Punzo walked into one of his first meetings with prospective clients for his new company, Streann Media, he asked the room, “How many of you are using Netflix?” No one raised their hand. That was 2015.
And when he told them that soon their cable box would be replaced by their cell phone? They laughed.
But Gio and his founding partner, Antonio Calderón, knew something most of us hadn’t realized yet. The broadcast media landscape was changing at lightning speed.
That vision has paid off. Today, Streann Media is a fast-growing SaaS platform that allows content providers to distribute, engage, and monetize video and audio on pretty much any device out there: iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and more.
Streann’s customers include TV stations, radio stations, sports, eSports, influencers. Anyone who wants to stream their own content and build their own digital content apps.
We sat down with founder and CEO Gio Punzo to talk about how FreshBooks has been an important partner in their upward mobility.
What inspired you to start Streann Media?
Gio: At the same time as Netflix was starting to make noise and growing, I was working for a company called LiveU. They replaced the satellite on a truck or van with a backpack. This was the beginning of a big revolution in broadcast media. They moved into this new technology, distribution of content using cellular bonding. This was the beginning of streaming for broadcasters. The cost difference was huge. A satellite content distribution operation would cost you $45,000 for one day, versus LiveU, which would cost you $2,500 a month. So we saw a revolution, OpEx versus CapEx, and this new way of distributing content at the same quality.
And then we said, okay, so everybody’s going to do this. What else can we do? We realized these breaking news organizations had all these hours of content they didn’t know what to do with. So we said, we can take that content and do more with it. That was 2014, and we started building the infrastructure for Streann from there.
Why did you decide to base your business in Miami?
Gio: At the age of 14, I moved from Italy to Miami with my family. And then I went to study in Boston and I came back to Miami in 2000. It’s amazing what’s happening in Miami. I’ve been very involved with the local startup community since the beginning, and right now, there’s a big Miami movement. Mayor Francis Suarez basically sent out a Tweet directed to California and New York and Silicon Valley companies. He was saying “You don’t pay state taxes here, come to Miami, relocate. Everybody can work out of their house in front of a beach. We’re the best place to be right now.”
There’s new money, new companies moving down. There’s a buzz in terms of companies and tech that is starting to happen. And we’re very happy to be part of it. Ten years ago, Miami was not on the radar. Nobody talked about “Miami tech”. They’re talking about it now. It’s exciting.
Miami is also a great place to be because it’s the bridge to Latin America. About 40% of our revenue comes from Latin America, so that plays a huge factor. We have a team of Streanners also in Argentina and Colombia, so it’s one flight coming into Miami instead of doing multiple flights. So for us location was very important. So we’re very happy to be in Miami.
Okay, so let’s talk about FreshBooks and you. Why were you in the market for something like FreshBooks?
Gio: We did not like the recurring payment and invoicing options that QuickBooks had. We had a lot of customers in Latin America, some of them paying big bills. We needed the integration with Stripe. With QuickBooks, you had to go through their system instead. So that was painful because we had bills and frustration, missed payments that we thought were paid. All these mistakes were happening. And it was really because we did not have the right accounting software in place. So that made us run right away and to look for an alternative.
We were growing, our bills started getting bigger, we needed to give more options to our customers to pay, and we just could not find a good partner in QuickBooks on that side of the business.
Gio: We looked at different options. Xero was one of them and FreshBooks was the other one. FreshBooks’ integration with QuickBooks was very good and the customer service you have is absolutely insane. You actually talk to people. We believe in that as well as a company. We provide WhatsApp chat and our phone numbers to all of our customers. And we expect the same type of service. At FreshBooks, you call and you get somebody on the phone right away and they’re knowledgeable. So it’s fantastic customer service. As a growing startup, this is exactly the type of partner that we needed to grow our business.
On the technology side, we decided to go with FreshBooks for Invoicing, Recurring Payments, and different options of payments. The Stripe integration was very important for us because we were a Stripe partner for many years.
The Recurring Invoice feature is beautiful: easy to do, easy to create and manage.
You mentioned the Recurring Invoices and Recurring Payments features. How do you think they have helped Streann grow?
Gio: The speed and the ease of creating the invoices. As we sign new customers, creating the accounts quickly. Even the invoices already have a preset of wording that we can use. It impacts our growth and our quality of messaging back to our new customers as well.
And then scalability. You helped us scale globally, allowing us to use different methods of payments, invoicing, and recurring. Especially for a SaaS company, Recurring Invoicing and Payments are essential. So that aspect of the business was huge for us. If you’re looking to expand globally and have a recurring payment offering, FreshBooks is the right partner for you.
If you could advise other business owners that are growing, what would you say about FreshBooks—or why should they consider FreshBooks?
Gio: I think number one is great customer service. You can talk to a representative on the phone, which I think is amazing. And as you are growing your business, you want to have a partner that you can talk to because you don’t have all the accounting answers.
You are acquiring so many customers around the world! What’s one of the most exciting events you’ve covered?
Gio: For a big sports fan, streaming the Champions League and the World Cup in Brazil was exciting. I was actually physically there, inside the pitch. It felt like I was in a video game because next to me were all the best players in the world. There was a game, England vs Uruguay. When Rooney scored, I thought he was coming to hug me! He was coming straight at me. It was fun.
about the author
Shannon Kelly is a Content Marketing Manager at FreshBooks. Her background includes travel writing, cookbook editing, and managing an online business directory. She loves karaoke, lives in Toronto, and always roots for the underdog.