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Dev Blog

FreshBooks loves entrepreneurs and billing

by Sunir on June 10/2011

FreshBooks loves entrepreneurs and an awesome place to find aspiring entrepreneurs is StartupWeekend. Every weekend, somewhere in North America a hundred or two hundred entrepreneurial spirits gather together with the same goal: start a company in 54 hours. From Friday to Sunday, you have to come up with an idea, create a team, prove the idea works, build a prototype, and pitch it to a panel of judges and investors.

It’s glorious.

At the recent StartupWeekends Bay Area and Toronto, FreshBooks has been doing something new. We hold the nearly heretical belief that businesses should charge customers money. I know in the “new economy” that is a strange idea, but we believe it works.

StartUp Weekend Award for Charging Users

To support this idea, we have given away the FreshBooks First Dollar Earned Award to the startup most likely to earn money directly from their customers. Small businesses have a certain pride framing their first dollar. It’s the first step on their way to success.

And the winners are…

We’ve given out two of these awards.

At StartupWeekend Bay Area, a group of undergraduates from UC Santa Barbara weren’t sure they were going to come, but Thursday night whilst grinding on homework, Christian, a anthropology and computer science major, convinced his friends to drive up and crash StartupWeekend. Arriving without tickets, Christian and his friends Jason and Justin, showed up and begged to be allowed to enter. Good thing they did. They won the competition.

The idea? 1night.me lets students share textbooks with one another for a very limited amount of time, eliminating the cost of purchasing books every semester. They solve the problem that many students slack and don’t buy textbooks until the last minute before their finals. On a mad scramble to find a textbook, there is high demand and low supply, forcing these students to pay money to rent their peers’ textbooks. Add late fees and lost textbook fees, the service could be lucrative.

Last weekend, FreshBooks was hanging out at StartUp Weekend Toronto. There were over 150 people there and over 20 impressive pitches! The winning team, titled VERTEX.IO was lead by Geoff Flarity, Steven Birk and Bria Watling, a group of tight-knit software developers who work in the finance industry.

VERTEX.IO is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) aiming to solve some interesting problems. There are too many platforms (Android, iOS, Windows Phone 7, Mac OSX, Windows, iPhone, iPad), scalable back-end infrastructure is hard to get right, offline synchronizations in challenging. VERTEX.IO aims to leverage open-source technologies such as nod.js, CouchDB, jQuery and Sencha to solve these problems.

This weekend, we’ll be at StartupWeekend in New York City. Be sure to shake hands with Jamaal, our developer community manager, who will be there sweating it out all weekend.