The best thing about having an API is that your customers can surprise you with really amazing and novel uses for your product. Recently, I learnt that two really interesting web application companies are using FreshBooks for their billing engine.
That’s fantastic, because building a billing system from scratch is a pointless hard problem to solve when you’re a startup.
Here’s an overview of what they are doing.
Last year, I wrote a little review about a great collaborative flow chart and diagramming application we use called Gliffy, that happens to be run by super friendly people. Little did I know that they would turn around and use FreshBooks to invoice their clients.
For their Confluence plugin they generate FreshBooks invoices directly from their pricing page. Based on the options you choose, they create an appropriate invoice in FreshBooks. Then, using
invoice.get to get the URL for the invoice, they redirect their customer straight to the invoice where they can pay by credit card. Nice!
StickyStreet is also using FreshBooks in a very clever way. A little background. StickyStreet is a gift card and loyalty management service. Unlike other similar companies, they have decided to not charge transaction fees because they are building it for small businesses. They are also investing a lot of time making the service user-friendly.
Ok, but what’s a gift card and loyalty management service? We’ve all seen them. StickyStreet allows you to create gift cards with a stored value, like $20. You can also give points to your customers for doing things like coming to your website or paying on time, which they can redeem later for discounts or movie tickets or whatever you like.
How do they use FreshBooks? They charge you automatically based on the number of customers you’re tracking in the system, which is what they call Pay As You Grow Pricing. So, if you’re using up to ten customers it’s free. As soon as you add the eleventh customer, they will automatically generate an invoice in FreshBooks and send it to you so you can pay by credit card.
The best part, Anthony from StickyStreet told me, “we implemented this for $150 and 2 days worth of time.” Holy moly!
What about you?
Are you using the FreshBooks API to automate your subscription billing? Please tell me about it. I’m keen to make this better.
Update: Learn how to use FreshBooks to manage your own application’s billing.