If you’ve ever gotten stuck, frustrated or bent out of shape using QuickBooks, the team at Kashoo wants to talk to you. The company is developing what they describe as super-simple cloud-based accounting software for small business owners.
We chatted with Jim Secord, a Bellingham resident who commutes to B.C. three times per week, for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We make small business accounting fun! (Seriously!)”
Inspiration hit when: “As a startup you’re always concerned about cash, runway, revenues, and expenses. I would keep a spreadsheet with all of the numbers, but it was difficult to share with our investors and accountant, never really up to date. And that further reinforced just how important it was that we needed to build a clean, elegant, easy-to-use accounting application.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We have angel investment from our biggest customer, a national tax preparation firm that wanted to provide a simple cloud solution to their business clients. Not only do they provide capital, but they have an expertise in working with small businesses – and that has been invaluable.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Essentially, we’re rethinking accounting and record keeping for the mobile age. Business owners already manage their schedule, email, customers and projects from their smartphone (and increasingly, their tablet). So that’s where we’re taking accounting: to where the business owners are.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Not listening to people when they said nobody will want to use their iPad for business.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Early on we focused on distribution channels, app stores and partners to promote Kashoo. Despite a lot of promises, most of these relationships didn’t result in sales. In hindsight, we should have spent all of our time on direct customer acquisition until we clearly understood how and why people were using Kashoo.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Definitely Jobs – and not just because we recently pushed out a Kashoo iPad app. Like so many developers of our generation, I’ve always wanted Jobs to demo our product at an Apple keynote event. With everything we build, I imagine presenting it to Steve. I imagine his possible reactions: “Insanely great!” or… the exact opposite of “insanely great.” That’s what drives us to try and perfect what we do.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “It starts when people get over their fear of accounting and understand just how easy it can be.”
We are truly unique because: “We actually really love accounting. It’s sometimes kind of weird.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Interesting story: Kashoo was founded by a fantastic husband-and-wife entrepreneur team. When what would become the lead investor came along and saw the potential in the product, the need to build a team – led by an experienced tech CEO – became clear. That transition – from a founder-centric environment to a company-centric environment – was a unique experience. From process changes to owning roles and responsibilities to uncertainty as to who defers to who, that sort of transition is something I think a lot of companies face. And it’s rarely easy.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Validate your idea, product and market early in the process. Sure, people rattle of that sort of advice all the time, but if you can’t get people to pay for product early on you need to go back to the drawing board. And it’s better to do that sooner than later.”