An Open Letter from FreshBooks Co-founder Mike McDerment
I never do this, but today I want to let you in on a secret.
Over the last 18 months, we have secretly built a new FreshBooks — a totally redesigned version of our cloud-based accounting software.
Surprised? I hope pleasantly so.
Beginning in the summer of 2016, you’ll have access to the new FreshBooks. You’ll be able to move freely between both versions, and your data will follow. The choice will be yours. We hope you'll find the new FreshBooks so compelling you'll never look back.
This new FreshBooks is not just a visual redesign, but a whole new product — one that helps you solve the same old problems, but in simpler and more modern ways. It behaves differently. It has new features. It's been redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up so you can get new improvements faster than ever before. It's all part of our mission to help reshape the world to suit the needs of self-employed professionals and their teams.
Below I've included the backstory on how we got here, [frequently asked questions](#faq) regarding the new FreshBooks and a look at the goals of the new product, plus results to date. The point of this letter is simply to let you know a new FreshBooks is on its way this summer, and invite you to get early access if you are interested. For those interested in more information, I welcome you to read on...
Goals of the New Product and Results to Date
At the outset of building the new FreshBooks, three goals were established to direct the effort:
- Simple Product – To make your experience easier, faster and modern
- Natural Collaboration – To help you work seamlessly with clients and your teams
- Faster Product Improvements – To deliver you more improvements faster and more frequently
We believed that if we could achieve these three goals, we would be set up to serve you effectively for years to come.
Fast forward to today. Thousands of people are already using this new product, so the question is, “is it working?” The short answer is, yes.
We had small business owners use the current FreshBooks and new FreshBooks and then rate them across dimensions we believe define a Simple Product. While these are early indications, in my opinion, the chart speaks for itself and our first goal is clearly on track.
With regards to goals two and three, business owners using the new FreshBooks are on average working with more people, which suggests Natural Collaboration is improved.
In terms of Faster Product Improvements, it now takes weeks to release ambitious product improvements, where it used to take months or quarters. This is the biggest win of all because Faster Product Improvements make goals one and two happen faster and with higher quality.
I want you to know we recognize that change is hard, and that some of you may be saying to yourselves, “I love FreshBooks — why go build a new one?” At this point in the letter, I hope it's clear. For those who have concerns, I want to assure you that you won't be forced to switch to this new product, but we believe in time you will want to, and when you do, you'll never look back.
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions – we’ve received so far from our testing — I strongly encourage you to read them. I have also included the backstory for a behind the scenes look at how it was determined a new FreshBooks was necessary, for those of you who like that kind of thing.
There is still a lot of work to do before the official launch of the new FreshBooks this summer, but we know enough now to be fired up. In the coming months, you will see improvements to our current products and we will progressively share more about the new one. If you are a current FreshBooks customer, and are interested in the possibility of trying the new FreshBooks before it’s publicly available, please sign up here
Finally, for those of you still here, thank you for reading — and if I may be so bold: thank you for your openness to exploring something new with us in the months and years to come. We’re excited to take the next steps towards building a better world for self-employed professionals and their teams, and honored to have your support as we do.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will the current version of FreshBooks still be supported?
Yes. Not only will you be able to continue to use the current FreshBooks, but you will be able to try the new FreshBooks with your existing data, and return to the current FreshBooks if you are so inclined. We believe in time, everyone will prefer to run their business on the new product, but we recognize that change is hard, and you will need to change on your timeline, not ours.
Are you going to raise prices?
No. Your current monthly service charge will be the same on the new product. Over time as we build more capabilities, you may choose to pay more to use some of those new capabilities based on the value they bring. That will be your decision at that time. We are excited to do more for you, more that we hope you will gladly choose to pay for.
When is this happening? Can I get early access?
Our aim is to make the official launch of the new product in roughly 6 months — summer 2016. Between here and there, we will invite some people to have early access. If you are interested in the possibility of getting early access to the new product, sign up here.
Why are you building a new FreshBooks?
We have a vision for making your life better through software that’s easier to use, that’s updated continuously and faster, and is better suited to how you work with your clients and your teams.
What’s in it for me?
A product that’s easier to use, evolves faster and makes working with clients and teams easier.
What exactly has changed in the new FreshBooks?
We are still building the new FreshBooks. But to be clear, this new FreshBooks is a whole new product. It looks different. It behaves differently. It has some new features. We didn’t just rebuild the old FreshBooks using a new technology so we could improve your FreshBooks experience more rapidly (although this is true). We completely redesigned the product in support of our long term effort to deliver more value to you, in different ways.
Will there be training available?
Yes. While our aim is to build a simpler product that is easier to use — and therefore we anticipate less need for training — there will be webinars, videos and other online help resources, plus you will be able to phone or email our Support Rockstars (aka the FreshBooks customer service team) and get the help and counsel you need. Never forget — we are here to serve you, and we take great pride in living our promise to Execute Extraordinary Experiences Everyday for you and your teams.
What about on mobile? Will there be a new mobile app / UI?
Yes. You may have noticed that earlier in January we released a redesign of our iOS app. Underneath the hood, that update is all new technology that enables us to do more faster on mobile, and includes things like the ability to accept credit card payments in person. More mobile updates will follow alongside the launch of the new FreshBooks.
What’s the backstory on this? Why are you building a new FreshBooks?
Since FreshBooks started in my parents’ basement a decade ago, the world has changed and we’ve learned a lot — about building products, and about serving you. One thing that’s painfully clear to us FreshBookers is this: while self-employed professionals and their teams are a massive and growing part of the labor force — over 53 million in the USA alone and on track for 70 million in 2020; twice the size of the Fortune 500 — the world is not yet designed for you. Things that should be easy — like doing your accounting, securing financing, and collecting payments from clients — are hard.
At FreshBooks, our mission is to reshape the world to suit the needs of self-employed professionals and their teams. In July 2014, we took on a $30 million investment to further this mandate. Not long afterwards, we found ourselves asking a tough question: “Can the FreshBooks mission be realized using the current technology?” For a product company, this is an existential question. You see, our technology wasn’t benefiting from recent advances in the software industry, and sentiment was it was holding us back.
A difficult period followed. FreshBookers searched their souls. Strong opinions were debated. Several prototypes were attempted and failed. After lots of handwringing and sleepless nights, it was determined that to achieve our long term objectives serving you, the only choice was to build a modern user experience on modern technology — and that meant a whole new FreshBooks.