“InvoiceBerry” offers an online invoicing software which is simple and easy to use targeted towards small businesses, start-ups, sole traders and freelancers.
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Dreissigacker’, regarding his start-up “InvoiceBerry”;
1. What is it exactly that you do and what “InvoiceBerry” is all about?
Invoiceberry offers an online invoicing software which is simple and easy to use.
We target small businesses, start-ups, sole traders and freelancers and help them to create, send and manage their invoices and quotes.
Businesses can also keep track of their expenses, payments and unpaid invoices when using our web-based software.
Directly after logging in our users see their customers unpaid and overdue invoices and can either add new payments which they received from their customers or they can send an invoice reminder to their customers.
2. When has “InvoiceBerry” been founded? And what stage is “InvoiceBerry” currently at?
Invoiceberry officially was launched in September 2010.
I had the idea since a long time, back in Germany when I was working as a freelance web developer.
In my last year at university I used my dissertation to create a first business plan for a project similar to Invoiceberry.
I then started looking for a team and create the first code for the online invoicing software. In summer 2010 we launched our first design and user interface and finally incorporated the company in September 2010.
The year 2011 was all about bug-fixing, improving the user experience and adding features as well as responding to early beta users.
So far in 2012, we experienced an incredible growth. The success story continues….
3. What is “InvoiceBerry”’s business model and how does it work?
Invoiceberry works on a so-called freemium Software-as-a-Service model. We offer three account plans:
The FOREVER FREE account, which is totally free but limited. Business can manage up to 3 clients and have no additional staff logins. This is mainly for start-ups, freelancers and businesses who want to check out our invoicing software.
The Solo account, which is charged at £10/$15 and let’s businesses manage up to 35 clients and create one more staff login.
The Pro account, which comes at a cost of only £20/$30 and offers unlimited clients and up to 10 extra staff logins.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
The idea and first coding for Invoiceberry came from Uwe Dreissigacker (MD & Founder). SHortly after realising a first alpha version of Invoiceberry, Uwe contacted a designer team and closely works with them since then.
We also had several marketing and customer service team members as well as mentors since we started. At the moment our team counts seven people.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Invoiceberry uses a minimal approach towards invoicing and does not try to capture the entire market.
We offer one specific functionality for businesses (sending invoices / getting paid) and thereby focus on this one very important part of running a business.
We don’t try to offer a fully-fledged accounting package which most small businesses, sole traders and start-ups just don’t need. This creates the simplicity which only Invoiceberry seems to offer on the market.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “InvoiceBerry” achieved so far?
In 2010 everything was about launching, in 2011 we had our first 100-200 businesses using our software and everything was about improving the user experience.
This year (2012) everything is about growing the business. So far we were very successful in doing so and experienced double to triple growth rates every month.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is “InvoiceBerry”’s competitive advantage over them?
There are plenty of other companies which try to compete with us. These include invoicing software as well as accounting packages.
Our advantage over accounting packages such as Sage and Quickbooks is our simplicity and our limitation to invoices, quotes, payments and expenses.
New businesses can understand how Invoiceberry works far faster and easier compared to other software.
The same counts for other invoicing software which is hard to install, backup and maintain.
Other online invoicing software often tries to solve too many problems (e.g. too many functionality) or is too limited in key functionality (only one invoice template offered, whereas Invoiceberry offers a choice of different invoice templates).
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
As usual we had too much work and not enough time and unfortunately had to delay our launch date several times. But this is a common problem for most start-ups.
Later on we had some problems with our payment gateway provider and had to change them. This is always quite hard and complicated.
Other than that, everyone here at Invoiceberry loves our product and the experiences we had together.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
A lot of businesses don’t understand that they don’t need a fully-fledged accounting package if they run a small business or if they are freelancing.
A simple and easy-to-use invoicing software such as Invoiceberry is perfect for them.
Everything else is a waste of their precious time and money.
I would love if people would understand this before wasting their money on too expensive and too complicated software.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We succeed because we believe in ourselves and in our software.
We love what we do (providing a fantastic online invoicing software), we love how we do it (relaxed and innovative working atmosphere) and we love who we are doing it for (small business, freelancers and start-ups).
In my opinion more businesses have to start loving what they are doing. This is the only way they will survive and succeed nowadays.
11. If “InvoiceBerry” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We love invoicing and helping small businesses as well as web development.
We already try to write as many blog posts as possible about small businesses, freelancing, home offices, etc. on our blog.
We try to write even more to help our customers and other small businesses to succeed in today’s business world.
We also offer free invoice templates to businesses who don’t want to use our software (for whatever reason).
We probably will offer even more free tools and advice over the coming months and years.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “InvoiceBerry” based on?
I started my first business and some freelancing work when I was 14 or 15 years old. Since then I needed to send invoices and manage business finances.
It always was a pain for me as I wanted to concentrate on growing the business and not on “boring” things such as invoicing, checking payments and creating financial reports.
One day I decided that I should help other businesses by offering a simple web-based invoicing software and other free tools such as free invoice templates, advice and blog posts.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
The entire team learned a lot while starting up Invoiceberry.
We re-designed the entire user-interface several times as well as the entire website.
We also added features, talked for hundreds of hours to beta testers and other businesses and improved the invoicing experience.
We learned that it is a hard and rocky way until a software is ready for small businesses and even harder to convince business owners to stop using one solution (old-fashioned, over-blown accounting packages) and start using a better solution such as Invoiceberry.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
That’s a very good question. If I would know the answer we probably wouldn’t have the problem in six months time as I could prepare the company for it. However, I guess most tech companies have scalability problems, so this could be one possible problem.
We did as much work as possible before we started the first version of Invoiceberry to not run into bigger problems later on. However, you can never plan for every single possible outcome.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Our customers can be sure that for no price at all or for a very small price per month they get a simple and innovative invoicing software which is entirely online based.
This means that they don’t have to install, uninstall, update, maintain or back up anything.
They don’t need to worry about anything technical. All our customers have to do is market their products and services, sell them and use Invoiceberry to send out their invoices.
16. How did customers/users find out about you?
At the beginning we contacted all our friends, old study partners and work colleagues to give us some feedback.
We are located in a business incubator in the vibrant Shoreditch in London.
It is said that this area of London will be the next Silicon Valley and there are hundreds of new businesses located here.
We just started contacting businesses in our incubator, our office building and our local area and asked them for feedback.
17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?
Our target customers are small businesses, freelancers, sole traders and start-ups.
By limiting the amount of extra staff to a maximum of 10 with our highest paying plan we basically force larger companies to not use us.
We did this on purpose to only have small companies with up to ten employees.
This helps us to focus on the needs of them.
We are also actively helping larger businesses to find more appropriate solutions (accountants, accounting packages, different enterprise solutions).
It’s all part of our customer service and goal to help business to grow.
18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Most of our new customers come through referrals from existing customers who love Invoiceberry so much that they recommend us.
Other new customers come through search engines and blog reviews.
We realised that if you provide businesses with a good product, such as Invoiceberry, they will sign up and give it a try and they might even recommend you, blog about you or send out a tweet to their friends. Word-of-mouth is everything nowadays.
19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?
So far we received a lot of positive feedback about our software. We published some of these texts as testimonials on our website. So feel free to read some of them.
We often get emails with questions or feature requests which include a lot of positive words about how good and simple the software is and how fast and nice our customer service is.
For me it was especially important that our customer service is as fast, friendly and efficient as possible. Every customer, potential customer or visitor needs to receive a fast and detailed reply within a few hours. It is even more rewarding when you get email replies which acknowledge our superb customer service.
20. How are you going to scale?
Since the very first day of developing Invoiceberry we put a lot of work into making it as scalable as possible.
The software, database structure as well as server structure was crated with scalability and thousands of businesses in mind.
We can easily increase our capabilities to have a larger customer base over night.
Our customer service team also has plenty of free time to welcome new customers and treat them in the usual friendly and fast Invoiceberry way.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
It depends what customer you ask. In our opinion, which most customers share with us, Invoiceberry offers all features needed for a small business or freelancer.
However, as businesses grow they sometimes request new features which would complicate and over-blow Invoiceberry.
This is often the time when we recommend even to our most valued and best customers to look into different solutions for their business needs.
We often actively help them to find and implement these new solutions. It’s all part of our customer service promise.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Invoiceberry was created to be internationalised into every language and region of the world. The basic system is therefore very flexible and any business around the world can already use us today.
However, at the moment we offer the software interface and website only in English and invoices and quotes can be created in English, Spanish, Italian and German. More languages will follow while we are growing.
We also help customers from certain countries, such as the UK, the USA, Australia and Europe to set up their Invoiceberry accounts with taxes and VAT as simple as possible.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
There are over 4 million businesses in the UK alone. Now think about Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, China, India and all the other countries in the world.
As every business needs to send invoices and take payments the sky is almost the limit.
We are planning to grow as long as it doesn’t affect our existing customers, our customer service or any of the other promises we make to our customers.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
Our team is pretty good at the moment and we are not actively looking for any new addition to our team.
However, if you feel like you would be a good addition to our team and like what we are doing then feel free to drop us a line or pop around our office for a coffee.
We also have lots of friends who run their own tech businesses, so we might be able to forward your CV and email to them and you might be able to find a job that way. You never know.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are always looking for new partnerships and interesting people. If you want to resell Invoiceberry, review us, promote us, talk about invoicing, business, web developing or anything else, just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reply to you as humanly fast as possible.
Also, if you feel like you want to share anything with us, give us feedback or request some new features to improve your Invoiceberry experience, don’t hesitate to contact us. We love receiving emails.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Young Entrepreneurs should listen a lot, talk a lot, share ideas and enthusiasm, work hard, network, go to meet ups and workshops, look for a mentor and just try their luck.
Believe in yourself and be ready to work hard and long before you see anything happening and any success. It often can take years before you might succeed.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Start a business. Believe in yourself. Miracles will happen.