Julian Kingman is a GetApp community member who left a review for ActiveCampaign and is now joining us on this episode of our podcast. Julian is a web designer and developer who uses WordPress to help small businesses reach their goals.
Jodie Hebbard is a certified life coach running her own business from her home in Canada. We learn about how Jodie got started with her life coaching business, the process of starting up and the challenges of getting her name out there. Jodie gives us her thoughts on with rejection and coming out on top.
Offering her coaching services remotely to people all around the world has come with its own set of problems. Scheduling clients across multiple time zones led Jodie to discover her favorite client scheduling app, Acuity Scheduling. Listen in to discover how she started to look for it and what led her to choose Acuity Scheduling.
In this GetCast we catch up with Brandon Dierickx, director of Ascent Real Estate Solutions, who reveals how Zengine helped grow his business. Brandon’s business is dedicated to helping people with numerous properties navigate and comply with local laws, functioning as a complete property manager for his clients.
Ascent’s information, employee, and field worker management system is crucial. When Brandon was shopping around he discovered Zengine, which has become an integral part of his business. So much so that he’s joining us on this show to share with us the story of his company, and the role of Zengine’s awesome customer service in helping him understand the platform.
You don’t often find someone with over 12 years of experience in the SaaS industry. Rick Chapman is a SaaS expert who has been there from the dot-com bust to today’s world of hyper appification. Rick joined us on this episode of the GetCast to talk about the evolution of SaaS, sharing his predictions about the future of the industry, and offering insider tips to anyone looking to build applications to serve the coveted ‘Generation X’ market.
We also talked about some of the apps that Rick has used over the years while working with large teams. You’ll definitely want to listen to the reasons he gave in making those decisions.
Rick has released the second edition of his SaaS Entrepreneur book, which is intended to help entrepreneurs build successful SaaS businesses.
David Leary, QuickBooks developer evangelist and the apps they use to grow.
QuickBooks has been around since they sold software in a box. Now they have moved to the cloud and opened an app marketplace to expand the functionality of their product. Learn about all the timesaving things that you can do with QuickBooks and the growing number of apps that work with it.
*This is a machine generated transcription please excuse any typos*
Jimmy: Hi and welcome everybody back to the GetApp podcast, how apps help me grow my business. I’m Jimmy and today we’re joined by Mr. David Leary from Intuit QuickBooks but before we get into all the wonderfulness that QuickBooks is, I’ll tell you a little bit about GetApp.
GetApp is a directory where businesses can find their business applications. So, here’s an example. The easiest way to understand it is, let’s say: you you’re looking for an application for customer support or customer assistance. Basically, you have a business and you need to deal with a lot of customers and make sure they are nice and happy.
You could go around and spend an hour or two hours just googling everything and trying to put the correct strings of keywords to figure out if you’re landing on the right page. What GetApp does is it helps you by putting everything in a type of directory to where you can get to GetApp, you go to customer support applications and you’ll see a list of probably a good deal of all of the options that are out there in the internet. You can choose up to three.
You can compare them, contrast them. You can see costs for each and then once you’ve decided which one looks like the best solution for you, you just click through and you land on their page and you can continue learning more about them. So, we make this discovery process of apps a lot easier.
Have a look at GetApp if you’re looking for any applications and a word of warning, a lot of times you’re going to find that apps exist for problems you didn’t even know you had so you will probably find yourself signing up to a bunch of new things because they’re that awesome. So, word of warning, you might end up signing up to more stuff but it will all solve problems.
With that being said, Mr. David Leary, thank you so much for being on the show. How are you?
David: Not bad. Thanks for having me, Jimmy. Hello everybody, everybody watching.
Jimmy: So, before we get into this, you know, you are developer evangelist for Intuit QuickBooks, correct?
David: Yes. Developer evangelist.
Jimmy: Now, what is it that you do right now as developer evangelist and what is it that you’ve done in the past that led you to this?
David: So, what do I do now? Developer evangelism is somewhat new as a career, I think, in general. In the grand scheme of careers, I think they’re 10 to 15 years old, developer evangelism itself. It’s fairly, fairly new. It’s more important than ever now for companies because everybody has APIs. Everybody wants to be a platform. Everybody wants developers to build on their platform. So the short answer I think I give people is like, I seduce developers to build small business apps that work with QuickBooks. That’s the short answer.
What that involves though is tech support, hugs, counselling, quality assurance, a little marketing, getting them connected with the tech support answers, the right person to help them get something escalated or resolved. It’s a full range of stuff that’s involved to be a developer evangelist. It’s not just standing on a microphone and saying, “We have an API, come use it,” right? Ultimately, it’s driven about by developer success. So when they can build an app and have it successfully in the hands of a small business owner, which in turn, really helps small business owner run their business better. Kind of what you’re saying about the apps at GetApp. It will really, truly solve a problem.
Jimmy: So, just so I understand that as simple as possible, what you’re doing is you are going out and encouraging developers to build stuff that works great with other apps and QuickBooks so that your end users basically have more integrations, right?
David: Yeah, it’s that and at some other level, it’s convincing developers that maybe have never considered solving a small business problem to check out the space. Maybe it’s another developer that’s building the next Facebook, or a fart app on the iPhone, or the next Angry Birds and that’s a tough market and there are a lot of opportunities for small businesses. And, a lot of people have never considered that in solving a small business problem, there might be a business model there. There might be revenue there. It’s fulfilling, etcetera.
Some of it is not just finding existing guys but just getting other developers and other entrepreneurs to consider solving small business problems. That’s probably half the apps at GetApp, right? Most of the apps are really for small business owners.
Jimmy: Right. I think even Salesforce, which is massive, at some point, it’s even appropriate for small businesses as well. I don’t see why they can’t use something like that. But, I think sometimes it’s cost prohibitive but definitely, a lot of people tend to just sooner rather than later just merge over.
I’ve known of several start-ups that were getting traction. They were using old, outdated stuff and it was just so clunky that the worst thing is they just have to bite the bullet and say, “Okay, we’re going to go and we’re going to merge everything over and we’re going to learn to use new stuff.” But once they do, they’re really happy.
And going on to what the work you’re doing with QuickBooks, one of the things that I think is super valuable is that the new apps that you’re beginning to on-board in your business work well with a whole bunch of other stuff that you have there. I think one of the worst things is signing up to a service that you discover within three weeks that after giving it so many hours, it doesn’t do the two or three things that you really, really and expectedly needed it to do.
So, how do you work with developers to discover these new needs that they might not know even exist? What is your internal working to how you discover these needs and how do you go about pitching them to developers?
David: I kind of play an interesting middleman role. One thing that’s very influential to small business owners are the accountants. So I know lots and lots and lots of accountants. The accountants will come to me and maybe they will say, “Oh, I have a client. Are there any good interior design apps?” And I’m like, “Hmm. I don’t know. Let me go see.”
So if I don’t have one already on Apps.com or maybe I can’t find one on GetApp, I just start searching at Google. I track them down and then start reaching out. So really, the problems are brought to me usually from either accountants or small business owners themselves.
I don’t talk to as many small business owners directly as I used to. Part of it is just a scale thing. But they do come up through tech support and I’ve talked to about twenty thousand to thirty thousand small business owners. So it did come up. Those are my roots. Still, fundamentally, it’s a small business owner.
Most problems, they come to me from accountants now. I have this clients that is x, I have this client that has this need or they need to get their Shopify to work with their Vend, to work with Krupers online, and all of these to work together so they can expand and open a second retail location.
It all comes in really from accountants and then I go find developers to either find a match in existing products that’s on the market or try to plant seeds in some developers. Every so often, you’ll find developers that are like, “I want to make something,” and I’m like, “Here’s a couple of options.”
Jimmy: That’s interesting because I’ve collaborated here with basically the local start-up community and there’s a lot of times, a lot of technical people who know how to build stuff but they just have no idea what to build. And so, when somebody builds something for QuickBooks, does QuickBooks provide some type of marketing push for them? Because, I’m pretty sure you probably get a lot of people who build stuff and not a lot of people who can market and sell it to the right user. So how do you help them deal with that?
David: So once a developer actually gets their app integrated with QuickBooks online, we have a marketplace called Apps.com. Apps.com is a standalone website where small business owners find apps that work with QuickBooks online and though indirectly, Apps.com is actually inside of QuickBooks online.
So as a developer, you’re getting exposure to get a one-click sign-up for your app from inside of QuickBooks. So that’s kind of the first level layer of marketing we do and then what we do is we kind of watch developers and see how things kind of go.
And so, if we see developers getting a little bit of traction and what I mean by that is they’re getting subscriptions, or getting sign-ups, or getting good reviews. I mean, that’s very, very important, the user reviews, because you don’t want to try to market an app that gets a one-star review. Once an app gets a little traction and we see there’s possibility there. We start doing things to help them like get them in front of more accountants because the accountants recommend their practice to small businesses.
We help them out at the accounting shows. For some of the early, early on developers, we just have them stand at a booth next to us on an accounting show just to get their feet wet so that way, they’re not spending a bunch of money going in blindly to an accounting show and then renting some big, huge booth. We just let them come and stand next to us. We kind of almost like wade them into the water and have a lot of developer hand holding as we wade it.
Jimmy: So how many of these apps have you been witness to in the creation? How many have you witnessed that have been created specifically for QuickBooks? About how many?
David: It’s hard to say. I mean there’s some apps that are just existing apps that integrate but I can argue that we have a whole new category of apps that’s because of open APIs and with the Web 2.0 and the internet, like accounts receivable management. These apps didn’t exist before. I mean they existed in the desktop world but I think with open APIs, and the internet, and Web 2.0, an app now can read invoices let’s say from QuickBooks, figure out who your overdue ones are.
But then now, that app in the other end can either connect to banks or clearing houses to sell those invoices. Maybe you want to get financing against your invoices. And so, you’re in that end to end picture and that wasn’t really available to be solved before. So you’re seeing it, so that I think that when you’re asking that of the new apps, we have a whole category of accounts receivable apps that basically just launched and we’re built in the last two years or three years – brand new start-ups. You can have Funding Gates or FundBox, Blue Vine. These apps didn’t even exist.
Jimmy: How many apps are on your app store?
David: I think right now we are at 170 something or maybe 180. We’ve been doubling the number of apps every six months. Those are apps that have gone through all the vetting process to get on Apps.com. I think we have about 400 to 500 integrations.
Some people do integration. Maybe they’re not ready to go to market yet so they do integration. They’re kind of in a beta test. Maybe they don’t have self-service on-board, one-click sign-up, and things like that. They’re just not ready to go to Apps.com yet so there are about 400 to 500 integrations and I think we’re at about 170 apps.
Jimmy: So with all of these apps, what are some of the things that you’ve seen that the really successful ones kind of do for their users? I know there might be completely different solutions but is there something that you find that is consistent across a series of successful apps that you kind of, for lack of a better term, see kind of a pattern that the really successful ones do?
David: Yeah, so if it offers a service, all the top apps have great, outstanding tech support. It’s software as a service, right? And that’s kind of the secret to the success of software service. People are signing up and if you don’t give them a reason to cancel, you just keep growing.
You do a marketing bump or you do whatever to get people to sign up but as long as they’re not cancelling, service, service, service is the most important thing. Any of the companies that are successful, they have really good service.
The other thing that I think the top apps and apps store all have is they all embrace the community. So, at some level, small business is big but the accounts that focus on small businesses, even QuickBooks itself is big, but it’s still a small community. It’s like a small town. Everybody knows each other. Everybody scratches each other’s back. Everybody helps each other out.
You can’t just get on Apps.com and have success. I mean there are outstanding apps that are on Apps.com that have yet to embrace the community and they just started getting traction. You have to jump in.
Jimmy: I’m going to shift directions a little bit but recently you mentioned that I think it was a hundred thousand small businesses were signed up to QuickBooks over the quarter, was it?
David: Yeah, slowly QuickBooks online now is I think going on thirteen or fourteen years. So QuickBooks online itself is old in internet years. But, it’s like eight years, I think. This is from a video on October of Dan [0:14:40]. He was talking at QuickBooks connect. It took eight years to get to one hundred thousand small business owners using QuickBooks online and I think this quarter, now we’re basically adding a hundred thousand small businesses a quarter to QuickBooks online. It took a long time to get there but it’s finally tipping.
Jimmy: So the question is, you guys are doing something very well, which going back to your example is customer service, because if they’re not leaving or unsubscribing, what’s some of those key components and key things that QuickBooks does as a company and Intuit does as a company that helps sustain that growth? I mean, getting over a hundred thousand subscribers to anything is amazing. So what are some things that you guys have been doing that helped you go in that direction?
David: I think a lot of it is fundamental in our DNA. I’ve been with Intuit for eighteen years now but I remember day one, getting hired for the call center. It was very like, “You own that customer. So you take that phone call. That customer is yours. You help them get their problem resolved.” As time’s gone on, if you find out how to scale that better.
We were the first companies to adopt net promoter score. Everybody uses it, you know, when they ask you the one to ten? So Intuit was one of the first companies to adopt the net promoter score, maybe the first company. I think it was a professor type book type situation first and then, I think, we were one of the first companies to really push and adopt net promoter.
We really jumped on the link start-up internally and did a lot of link start-up type things internally and doing a lot of rapid experiments and kind of had our own version of it called, Design for Delight. And so, we have ways to build products that are very customer-driven and customer-focused and because of that, we kind of killed a lot of products that are early experiments. We kind of narrowed it down on products.
Jimmy: What are some of the steps involved in building a product that is designed to delight a customer?
David: Some of it is rapid experimentation early. Historically, I think the way people would build a product, and this is something that is parallel to lead start-up to some extent. Historically, some product manager, some “visionary” of the company say, “We’re going to build this coffeemaker thing,” and you would spend all these money to build it, and design it, and you get marketing people in, help support people in, and you build this whole thing with millions, and millions, and millions, and millions of dollars on it and then maybe you don’t even want it when it’s said and done.
So I think, for us, we move a lot of the process way up early. That’s a lot of storytelling, to some extent. You really get in deep. You either follow a small business owner to their business and hang around, eight to ten hours like you’re a fly on the wall watching the small business owner, or there are other things we do where we do a lot of storyboarding. And you do a six-panel story and see if that resonates with the customer.
So you bring five or six small business owners in. Let’s say they’re payroll customers. Let’s say they do payroll by hand and they’re trying to understand why they are doing it by hand, what their business processes are. And by the end of the day, because you’re doing everything by hand, and post-it notes, and figuring out their values, and getting that story told, by the end of the day you can almost have a product that would fit those five people. You’ve done it all on post-it notes and scratch papers and exercises. You’re not actually coding anything.
Jimmy: So I guess we’re venturing a little into advice for start-ups.
David: But this is for a small business owner, too, kind of similar.
Jimmy: So, let me see if I can phrase this correctly. When would you recommend from your experience that a person says, “Okay, let’s continue down this road or this is a dead end,” because do you have to talk to five customers like you said? Five small businesses and say, “Okay, we have a product for them,” and just assume that there is hundreds more like them or do you need to go through various iterations of talking to groups of five, groups of five, groups of five to contrast your initial results?
David: I think it’s all about the iterations. That’s one of the bells that went off for me. I remember we’re doing an exercise once with some millenials in San Diego for a … product and it wasn’t about trying to make the product. You have that person sitting across the table from you so if you can expose them to a hundred iterations in a four-hour session, that’s the best thing you can do. Because then, you can test, “What about this thing or what about this thing?” So it’s all about making that hypothesis and testing it.
And so, if you’ve proven out your hypothesis, then you can take that next step to validate the market a little bit more. Now, it’s little bit more complete like, “Okay, what if we make a landing page?” But it’s similar to start-up growth but you still ease your way in to it. You’re not just going to drop, “Oh, we’ve talk to five people,” spend billions of dollars on a product to go make it. You have to ease your way in.
Jimmy: Coming back to QuickBooks, using this as an example of iterations and basically, getting to understand what your users and customers want as fast as possible, what are some of the changes along this evolution of QuickBooks that you’ve seen have been adapting themselves to new needs or to maybe unknown needs, or to something that you didn’t expect but it became a need and QuickBooks turned around and solved it for their users? What are some of those points that come to mind?
David: Scott Cook our founder always talk about finding the white in the surprises, in the unknown. And that’s when magic happens. Obviously, QuickIn was around before QuickBooks and that was for people’s personal finances. Well, the white mat was a lot of small businesses were using QuickIn to run their small business because at that time, there weren’t a lot of options in the market.
Think back to DOS desktop computers. You can try to do something yourself on Lotus 123 or you could try to bring in some custom, weird accounting package that probably cost tens or twenty or thirty thousand dollars. In the 80s, it was very expensive to do.
So people were using $59 QuickIn to run their business. And so from that, that really was almost in a way, you knew the market was going to be there before you release the product. You add market validation and so, I would argue just QuickBooks itself is because of that model.
I can link it the way we rolled out the new QuickBooks online has a brand new UI. It had, for the last decade, one version of the UI and now it has the new UI. We’re calling it, a design pattern Harmony. We actually rolled out and brought Harmony to all our products.
So if you use QuickBooks online today on the browser, tablet, or on your phone, or any devices, it all looks and feels and smells and tastes the same. So as an end user, you will have a comfortable experience. But we really eased in to that, so we rolled it out only to a very small set of users. We really did a lot of UI and feedback tests. It wasn’t just change the UI overnight.
We slowly rolled that out and got more and more feedback and more and more refinements on it. But in a weird way, it actually probably rolled out faster and more successfully because of taking that slower path than to just one night, just flip it on for the users and you realize all the things you did wrong. And then you spend two years playing catch up and just turn into an ugly mess versus easing into it.
Jimmy: So what type of involvement do your users have over these types of updates and changes?
David: Definitely, we use ability lapse. We bring a lot of users in. We let the new QuickBooks online, as this is rolling out, we let people opt in and opt out in a forty-day rolling window where they can try it out or switch back to the old one. So we let existing users opt out because not everybody is comfortable with change right away.
But overall, we listen to our customers. We used User Voice. It’s an app to get feedback for features that people want for QuickBooks online. We definitely involve them in the process along the whole, entire path.
Jimmy: In those little shifts, one of the biggest things that at GetApp that we see is that there’s probably one of the two crucial things that determine whether a person ends up clicking through to a software’s website is reviews that they may have; but the second thing is integrations. So if there’s a company on GetApp that has lots of reviews, whether a good mix of great reviews and you’re always going to have some bad reviews, but we find that that and then integrations, how many other services do they integrate with are two very big components whether somebody decides to go through to discovering a new service.
With QuickBooks, the first question is, who do you guys integrate with? But let’s cut that down to, what are the biggest integrations that are being used most by your users for QuickBooks?
David: So basic integration is probably our own. So we have a parallel product that used to be a parallel company we acquired, called PayCycle, eight or ten years ago. That’s a saas-based payroll product. It looks, smells, and feels like QuickBooks online but to some extent, that’s an integration because you can just get QuickBooks online payroll separate from QuickBooks online. So the biggest integrations is our own products that we integrate on top of that.
Some of the other big integrations we have are American Express, Square. These are big, huge, huge company-type integrations. Some of the other ones, that are maybe the next level down, are companies that aren’t as big as American Express but more of the independent-style developers. You have T-sheets and Smart Bolts.
I’m trying to think of massive integrations. So there are other big ones. It’s always like I get interviews like this and my mind just goes blank. So you see that I’m on Apps.com and it’s easy to see all the apps there. Because I don’t want to leave anybody out – Shoebox, Transaction Pro Importer, Youbility, Fun Box, Tally, Fun and Gates, Bill.com. So there’s a bunch of big integrations that are on there.
Jimmy: That’s cool. How has it been for companies that have built integrations for QuickBooks? Are there some success stories that you dealing directly with these developers that you can share with us?
David: I think we talked a little bit about the accounts receivable, right? That’s a whole category and those developers have done all brand new apps. They didn’t even exist three years ago, to some extent. They’re solving a small business problem that’s probably been there for a long time for small businesses, which is, how do I get people to pay me from my invoices?
So they’re solving that problem that’s existed but nobody can ever solve that before. So I think that as an industry, that’s a huge success that we should all celebrate. It’s an individual app.
I look at other apps, for example, T-sheets is out there. They’ve been around for a couple of years. They were out there in Boise, Idaho just chipping away making progress. But then once they integrated with QuickBooks and they really embraced the QuickBooks community, they’ve really taken off. They jumped in and then they became one of the top apps.
They weren’t even on Apps.com two years before. So it’s a really fast developer story. They’ve had a lot of success. They had an old QuickBooks integration through old formats that we use to support .iaf files and some oldest decay integrations. So they integrated with QuickBooks online. They got into Apps.com and embraced the community. So there’s been a lot of success stories like that for the tier level developers.
There’s another example, Paul Jackson, it’s his second company. He’s been basically doing QuickBooks integrations his whole life, to some extent. And this is his second company. It’s called Method CRM but it’s more like Play-Doh or LEGOs or maybe Minecraft. You can make Method be whatever you want it to be. And so he has a really deep integration. Every field that he syncs to QuickBooks is bi-directional sync. So it’s about, are you a deep integrator?
And as you find, you were also asking about the other things that make apps successful. I think the top apps have deep integrations. There are a lot of people that want the checkbox that says, “I work with QuickBooks,” or integrate. People want, “I integrate with a thousand things,” but then if you start getting into the surface, they only sync first names or phone numbers or something very, very basic. And you can almost argue that it’s not even an integration, right?
They’re just doing the bare minimum to click the checkbox to say they integrate but small business owners three weeks in, six weeks in, digs under the covers and they realize that, “Oh my gosh. You don’t move any of these data that I need back and forth.” It’s mostly that you’re loved widely versus loved deeply. So the apps that are starting to separate themselves from the pack have deeper integrations.
Jimmy: Before I start asking you about other apps that you guys are using, what is one thing that you think that a person who is looking for a solution in the online accounting space would encourage them to give QuickBooks a try?
David: To encourage them to try QuickBooks specifically? A lot of it is the easy use, the UI definitely now. The new QuickBooks online is amazing looking. It’s customized for the industry. It’s very affordable; I think the entry-level plans are $10 a month.
If you’re a brand-new small business owner, would you go back to the late 90s or 2000s? If you wanted to use QuickBooks, you had to go to office depot or Costco and drop $350 right out the gate. But now, if you’re a new small business or a new start-up, you can just spend $10 a month and just ease your way into it. And then if you want more features, you can add on more.
If you need an app that wants to work with QuickBooks, you can add an app and scale and grow but yes, QuickBooks online was available before but without all the apps and the ecosystem around it. To some extent, what we have right now going to 2015 has never been available for a small business owner before.
I mean, yes, you could technically argue that it was available in 2013 but we’re at a tipping point. This is the first year that add-ons that customers really need are starting to be easily available and with the always on internet, I mean, on airplanes, everywhere you’re at, it really makes sense to do online accounting at Saas now. It just doesn’t make sense to have strewn data on your kitchen table on a hard drive.
Jimmy: Yeah, I still have the scene of that in my own family’s house. It’s just like paper just thrown everywhere. My dad ran his own construction company. It’s a nightmare – paper everywhere.
David: Yeah, and I think as an industry across the board, all of us in the small business space, we’re all competing with pen and paper, post-it notes, and Excel. I can’t believe how many people you talk to and that’s how they’re doing – post-it notes, pen and paper, and Microsoft Excel. And you see some of the crazy stuff small business owners have built on Microsoft Excel. It’s almost mind blowing.
And then especially if you be, just like I said, a fly on the wall and just watch them run their business, you’re like, “Wow! You do all that?” Sometimes I don’t think the bell goes off that they spend two hours a week, let’s say, doing payroll. I think payroll is an easy example of this – doing manual payroll translations.
When at some level, if they just use [0:32:39] Payroll, or Zen Payroll, or some other payroll product, the calculations will just tapped in for them and now payroll takes them 6 minutes instead of taking them an hour. And sometimes I think for small business owners, they don’t consider how valuable their time is versus $40 to get a nice payroll product.
Jimmy: Yeah, and that’s kind of a great segue into the next part which is what apps you use because the intent is, like I mentioned before, when somebody discovers that QuickBooks can help them shave hours and hours and hours off of tasks that they would much rather not be doing because there’s a much more efficient way to do it. These are tools that really make a difference in people’s lives.
So, one of the things that I want to know is what are the tools you’re using. What premium apps is QuickBooks using internally to run its business? But before that, because I think it’s also curious to know what tools are solving your guys’ problems. Before that, what stuffs are on your phone that’s helping you manage your day to day – app that you can recommend, apps that are fun for you?
David: I’m in a Podcast so I use Pocket Cast. I use that a lot. That’s a really good app. Rentkeeper. I couldn’t live without Google Maps because there’s publisher registrations in it and there’s travelling and I’m on the road a lot. I actually keep a spare battery with me because I’m deadly afraid I’m going to get in a situation I have no phone that works. I don’t know what to do.
I can go to cities without maps now. So definitely, Google Maps is really important. I really fell in love with Any.do.
Jimmy: Any.do. What does it do?
David: It’s like a task list. It’s really, really simple. But what I like about it is every day you can quickly go through all your tasks and prioritize them. I’m going to do this today. I’m going to do this today. I’m going to do this today. So it’s really, really clean. It’s simple enough and then they have a web version or a browser tab when you’re on a device.
So Any.do, Evernote – obviously I use Evernote a lot for almost everything. I’m always putting things on Evernote. I’m trying to think of what else I use. I use Contactually for contact management because it’s gives me just enough email tracking to have a good intro feature if you have to do intro emails and just enough if you want to do drip communications and merge all of your contacts. So if you have contacts on your phone, you’ve got contacts on your Outlook or Exchange server, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, they get everybody into one spot, which is kind of nice. Contactually is a good product for that.
I still use the Twitter native app. I use Jeneteer. I use that app for Twitter occasionally on my desktop version. It reminds me of the old version of Tweetdeck, if you remember that from the olden days. Other than that, I use different apps. Those are the big three though.
Jimmy: What’s the biggest business that you’re giving your phone? Is it mostly like to-do list or just checking email?
David: It’s sad. It’s email. I use Nine for Exchange Server. It’s definitely Email and Scheduling Calendar for sure. But it’s got into a point though in the last two business trips I’ve only taken a tablet. So I have a Nexus 9 tablet. I’ve not taken the laptop because I’ve got a little Bluetooth keyboard.
You get set in your ways like, “I need my laptop. I need my laptop. I need my laptop.” And I’ve gotten to the point now where I’m comfortable not taking a laptop. So it’s kind of an experiment at the tipping point a little bit because you can’t do everything you need to do on a tablet. I’ve seen situations where using maybe somebody’s website on the touchscreen on the tablet and then you fat finger something and you do a select all or a select none when you didn’t mean to and that would’ve never happened on a device with a mouse because you got very accurate clicking.
So there’s definitely drawbacks to that but I think that the apps themselves now and the quality you get on a tablet device is pretty amazing to where I can still be pretty productive and roll with this tablet. And if you offset the weight of how much this laptop weighs and versus a small nine inch tablet, it’s a big difference.
Jimmy: Cool. That’s on your own personal phone. What are some business apps or some premium stuff that you guys are using at QuickBooks that are helping you do the things that you’re doing?
David: I think across the board for all, some customer phasing ones that we use that people would see and recognize is Zendesk in some spots at Intuit. We use User Voice. So we use User Voice. So these are the ones that are out there that customers are seeing and interacting with.
Behind the scenes, we definitely use a lot of Quick Base. Quick Base is our own product. It’s an online Quick Base. To some extent, it is similar to a Salesforce type of product and that was actually before Salesforce, to some extent. But the Girl Scouts use that, for example, to manage all the Girl Scout cookie sales across the whole country. So it’s really just an online database. It has an API. It’s very customizable.
But because we have that as our own product internally, it gets used for a lot of things. A lot of product managers use that. Anything a manager wants to track builds a Quick Base for it. So we definitely use that.
Some of the more corporate tools that we use are Salesforce, a lot now. We’re actually on our developer side that powers our back end. Our developer side powers a lot of Apps.com itself is under the covers behind the scenes a lot of Salesforce. Because that’s essentially your database, right?
We use for a lot of product design and product development, JIRA. Yeah, we use JIRA. For smaller email campaigns, I think my team uses MailChimp. So there’s a lot of smaller, individual apps
we use to get things done. Even services like SurveyMonkey gets used a lot. There are a lot of smaller apps that get used, probably a lot more that I’m not even listing.
Jimmy: About your team and the way you’re working with JIRA, are you just using a regular scrumboard or is it a canban board? What are you guys using?
David: I don’t know for sure but I think they’re using the scrumboard as part of JIRA. I think we’re using a bunch of teams with a bunch of different apps on project management – the packages they were using then. The company standardized on JIRA. And so I think, they’re using JIRA storyboard.
David: Tool or Add-on for that but I don’t have the exact answer.
Jimmy: Right. And on your day to day, what are some web apps that you’re really engaging with on a daily basis or stuff that you’re weekly touching up with?
David: So from the work perspective, we definitely use Salesforce for my immediate team.
We started to use HipChat a little bit more and only because we used to use a big Microsoft communicator in the company before, at some level. And that was great except for you can only use the communicator on your computer. But HipChat now, they said if I wanted to get a device and I wanted to build a chat, I can do that because I can use it for my phone, I can use it for all other devices.
Still, even Outlook Web, the Exchange on the Web in the browser tab is amazing. Microsoft did an amazing job with Outlook for the Web or Office265 now, whatever the Outlook web version is currently called. That’s pretty amazing considering how stuck in your ways you are if you’ve used Outlook for a decade or 12 or 15 years, how the transition to the web of that product actually is. I like it better than Gmail. That’s interesting.
Jimmy: That is interesting. So how are you measuring performance and keeping track of how things are performing?
David: I’m sure a lot of web tracking is done through Omniture, from Adobe and then we have a lot of reports. We have two guys on the team that are really heavy into Salesforce, building us reports out of Salesforce. So we’re using that.
We’re also using Tableau for a lot of number tracking now. That’s something that’s recently been orchestrated and implemented in the last six months to a year. We’ve been using Tableau. So I think those are the biggest two. We’ve been monitoring that.
Jimmy: From your experience, what would be the one thing that if someone took away from you right now, you would like throw your hands in the air and run around screaming and yelling, besides email? Let’s not get into that deep.
David: I think it’s a blessing and a curse. Part of me will be cheering on some level.
I’m trying to think one thing that got ripped away from me. I think at some level it might be Skype.
David: Skype lets me work where I’m at. I don’t have a phone per se and not everything works great on cell phones. You can’t see somebody’s space. I do a lot of Skype to call on meetings. I use Skype. I think if I lost Skype, I’d probably not have the ability to do things. Some of my emails are still there.
Overall, I feel it’s hard to say, “Oh, if I just lost this one app,” per se but definitely, if the Internet is not there, I’m dead in the water. To some extent, every app, if there’s no connection, that app is useless. It’s completely useless to you. So that’s probably the bigger one or the fear of losing a device. To have the phone not work or something like that, it’s kind of like, “Now what?”
Jimmy: Having everything in the cloud. It’s really cool because all of the sudden, I have a work machine but because really I don’t have any standalone apps aside from some Adobe stuff, I can have my home machine browser synced up and everything is just there.
David: Yeah, and that’s why I started to use Firefox sync. Everywhere I go, my Firefox stuff is still there – my usernames and passwords. I’ve started to make that transition to just be 100% cloud. It’s a hard transition to make when you have 4GB .psd files and you’re locked into this old desktop world.
And that’s a transition happening not just for me or you. That’s a big thing happening for small business owners. There are five million QuickBooks desktop users that are now moving from desktop applications for small business to online products like QuickBooks online and online apps. So the transition is happening across the board for everybody.
It’s not something unique to me, or you, or anybody else but I think as it happens, I feel like really in the last year and a half, it just got easier. It just got so much easier to really make that jump and to just be all in. Because even in a tablet, you can do tablets before but Bluetooth keyboards are still at a hundred bucks. But now, you can get a Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon for $29. So you can get a decent tablet.
You can really go remote for a very, very affordable price. It seems like the WiFi is everywhere you go now. You can always be connected and I think it was harder to do that two years ago and now, it’s finally here. Jimmy: I think that’s one of the things that it’s becoming key for everything cloud. WiFi needs to be as available as really it should be. So, this is cool.
So let’s see, to start wrapping things up, going back to apps and the developer community because that’s your forte. What are some things that you would recommend anyone curious about developing for QuickBooks to solve a problem for small businesses? What are some beginning steps that you would recommend that they consider?
David: Talk to small businesses. Get out there and really be aware of problems. Just be out there.
Jimmy: I’m sorry to interrupt. Let me ask you a question because you have tons of experience with this. How does someone begin to approach a small business to have these conversations with them? How do you begin to break the ice with these small businesses?
Let’s say, I’m a developer. I have technical skills. I just don’t know any small businesses. How does David Leary recommend that somebody starts knocking on these doors and not get them shut on their face?
David: Historically speaking, and you’ll see this on both sides of the fence where we’re at, accountants are sometimes introverted and developers are introverted and sometimes, those conversations are a little bit difficult because they just stand staring at each other and nobody wants to reach out and shake somebody’s hand and talk. I think it’s kind of the same problem.
Accountants are horrible at marketing their businesses, to some extent, and I think developers are horrible at being social and going out there and just talking to small businesses.
Because if you go to any small business and just sit down and just watch what’s happening, you can start spotting. You can just identify like, “Why didn’t they just do that,” and you start seeing problems. I think the easiest thing a developer can do is watch a small business owner open up their computer and watch how many times that thing will open.
Maybe they open up notepad or Microsoft Excel or write down physically with a pen. And all those times they’re putting something in Excel, or in Notepad, or on a post-it note, or writing with a pen and typing it in a computer, those are all integration points. There’s a problem there to be solved. And so you have to dig down on that but you all just have to find one small business. It always starts with one, right?
And then after that, you can be like, “Oh, is this true for all dry cleaners?” So maybe it’s a dry cleaner. You’re watching them and you’re like, “Why are they doing that?” And you can ask them why and then you can talk to more small dry cleaners and just be, “Okay, I’m a developer and I’m thinking of creating this thing for small dry cleaners.” I mean it all goes back to lean start-up type of stuff.
Maybe for developers who are not sure, head down that path with lean start-up but if you just step back and watch any business, you just see all kinds of problems. And they’ll tell you, you can just go in and say, “Hey, what’s your biggest headache this week?” Chances are, their biggest headache that week can probably be solved by an app that already exists or a potential app.
I think that’s why a lot of the time sheet products do really, really well because it’s a very easy value proposition. A small business owner can be every day, some employee just jacks up their time sheets or “I can’t read their handwriting,” when they write with pen. Somebody tried to use purple ink with little hearts over every one. There’s little things like that and so it’s very easy for a small business owner to be like, “Okay, that time sheet app is $40 a month but that solves me $100 in headaches a month.”
So don’t go and build something or an app because you think people will want it. Because there’s a lot of technology that’s out there but it’s not solving a small business owner’s problems. So solve those problems and I think you’re going to be safe.
Another thing is to go niche. I truly, truly believe the future for small business apps is niche. So an example of this will be let’s take a time machine a little bit to the late 90s, early 2000s, so you have a pet sitting business and I’m your accountant.
So on day two of your business, you come see me and say, “Hey! I started a pet sitting business yesterday. What should I do?” And I’m going to tell you as your accountant, “Go to Office Depot or Office Max. Go buy QuickBooks desktop.” You’re going to buy QuickBooks desktop.
And I’m going to drive my car because I’m your accountant over to your house because chances are if you’re a pet sitter, you probably don’t have an office. You just have a house. I’ll drive over your house. I’m going to customize QuickBooks. I’m going to train you in a way to use QuickBooks in a very special way because I just customized it for you and not only that, maybe you have some employees. I’m going to let them get their hands in there and at best, when it’s all done, you have an 85% solution, which is good enough. That is the best you could do in the late 90s, early 2000s.
Now, let’s try to sort it today. So you’re a pet sitter; you come to me. I’m going to put you on powerpetsitter.com and QuickBooks online. So it’s a suite of two products together. Everything that Power Pet Sitter doesn’t do, for example, bank reconciliations, paying your bills, those types of things you’re going to use QuickBooks online for. Everything to run your pet sitting business is done by this pet sitting app.
So you’re going to use that eight to ten hours of your day and it’s going to be way better. So when you’re all set and done, you have a true, 100% solution that’s way better to run your business that you would in that kind of let’s-customize-it way. And not only that, now because it’s all online, I don’t have to drive to your house. I don’t have to physically be there in your presence.
Your employees are in QuickBooks. Now your employees are not mucking up the accounting data because your employees only use the Power Pet Sitting software.
And so now, take out pet sitting and put clear a law firm software or construction software. Every industry, I mean, I’ve talked to guys making veterinarian software. That’s Saas space. That’s only for veterinarians who work with thorough-bred horses in the field. Jimmy: Wow. That’s niche.
David: It kind of makes sense. If you go niche, you can actually charge more for your product. And then on top of that, you can finish your product. There are a lot of field service apps. If you think about field service, a lot of field service apps try to be the everything-field-service apps. “I’m going to be the field service app that plumbers use, HVAC guys use, painters use, carpet cleaners use, landscape guys use,” all that stuff.
Well, you’re just constantly adding features to your product and you’re probably not doing any of it perfectly. But if you decide, I’m going to be the field service app that just is the best one for landscapers or window washers, sure maybe you’re not going to get the entire base of field service people out there, but whatever that niche is there’s probably 5,000 and you’re probably going to win 4,000.
So if you’re a developer and you’re thinking about getting into small businesses, I think you look at niche. It’s really easy to chase. Everybody has time sheet problems. I want to try to win this huge market of time sheet problems but there are a lot of people competing for that space so I think if you only get niche, there’s a lot of opportunity in niche right now I think. That’s very, very hyper focused, hyper niched is probably the way to go in the future. You’re kind of seeing it more and more and more. Jimmy: Cool. So to wrap up, what’s something that you’d like people to know about QuickBooks that we can end on?
David: I think we’re not your mom’s QuickBooks anymore, if that makes any sense. I think a lot of people, their impression of QuickBooks or the way they think of QuickBooks. Intuit is a thirty-year old company. QuickBooks is twenty years old. And I think a lot people think of QuickBooks as like, “Oh yeah, I remember QuickBooks. My mom used to use that in the 90s.”
And then that’s just in their head. It’s not your mom’s QuickBooks anymore. It’s a young, Web 2.0 start-up. I mean Intuit’s a huge company but it’s really ran like a start-up.
QuickBooks online is a young, attractive product in the grand scheme of things. And so, I think it’s just dropping those stereotypes. It’s really one of the biggest one, I mean. People haven’t looked at QuickBooks in a while and I think that’s the reason why. If you take a look at it, people will really be surprised, I think. They’re like, “Wow. It’s not 1990s ugly software. It’s a very beautiful package now.” It’s the biggest one. Take a look at it again. Jimmy: I think people really are underestimating how, I don’t know if that’s a stretch but I was going to say fun but I think I’ll say, how absolutely useful and time-saving online accounting tools are. If you just begin to understand them as the problem-solver that they are, and like you said earlier, the amount of time it’s going to save you and how much value your time has, it’s a no-brainer. It’s anyone running a business that is making over $50 a month I think they should definitely consider checking out QuickBooks.
David: Hopefully. Maybe hopefully a little bit more than that – $50 a month. But then again, if you compare that, they could be using $50 a month in post-it notes.
Jimmy: I’m pretty sure they probably are.
David: So for the price of a month’s worth of post-it notes, you could use QuickBooks online instead now.
Jimmy: There you go. A clearer value proposition, impossible.
So, thank you Mr. David. It was very fun talking about apps. I think the thing that you’re doing is really important because integrations and getting people to build stuff that adds functionality to an application is absolutely crucial. The more options you have, if you land on a service-like QuickBooks that has an actual market place to where there is actually community developing for that, that’s super valuable because any problem that you might have down the road, likely there’s already a solution for it.
So instead of having to go and re-shop around for another solution that does what you now need it to do, having all those integrations is absolutely fundamental.
Jimmy: So I will thank you for the time and any last things?
David: No, thank you for having me. I do appreciate it Jimmy.
Jimmy: QuickBooks solves problems and the idea is just to communicate it to people and everyone more or less migrates to the thing that they’re more comfortable with and the best thing we can do is help people make their discovery process as easy and as fun as possible. Hopefully, after our chat, somebody will say, “Hey this David guy talking about QuickBooks on online accounting. Maybe I’ll give it a shot.”
So, thank you again and from my side, anyone who’s out there, please go to GetApp.com and leave a review for QuickBooks. These reviews help people like yourself when they’re shopping around to better gauge the quality of a product, of a service. So go leave your reviews because they help every other person that’s landing on QuickBooks better make a decision and I’m pretty sure that there’s some deity out there that appreciates it when you leave a review. So leave a lot of reviews.
With that being said, thanks a lot, David. Go visit QuickBooks.com, check them out. Also, check out Apps.com for all integrations to QuickBooks. I’m pretty sure you’ll find a million and one solutions for your problems. So until next time, thank you very much. Talk to you all later. Bye!