We produce application software and hardware integration for product designers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. Our work is done both directly and in collaboration with complementary partner agencies we trust. Our simple mission is to contribute all profits to organizations that promote sustainability and improve lives through skills mentoring, arts, and education. We do this in the form of direct donations as well as grants toward projects aligned with our core expertise.
For years I went to Apple’s developer conferences and studied the areas of opportunity. I found there were a lot of entrepreneurs and visionaries that simply didn’t have the ability to realize their vision. This seemed like a great opportunity to me, being a technologist, to help people with ideas. There’s a growing popularity with devices and software but a need to demystify the integration between them. There’s sort of a hardware camp and a software camp, but people don’t usually sit in both. My background is electrical engineering and I enjoy working with both hardware and software so it seemed like a great fit.
I had done consulting since college with the typical layout of CEO, a layer of executives, sales, and operations. I understood that business model, but for me it didn’t seem like the ideal. I wanted to find a way to create something where profits (instead of covering a lot of overhead) were hard-wired toward something greater. I found I wasn’t the only one with this ideology, so I started forging relationships. As we started growing and adding members, the concept of a ‘cooperative’ stood out. Not a co-op in terms of shared ownership necessarily, but a pooling of things more valuable to me (experience, skills, talents, and time). With minimal operations, clients enjoy direct, honest interaction with technologists. The complex becomes uniquely accessible. This fundamental camaraderie resonates with me.
Having worked in traditional consulting, I can appreciate now that my vision of having flexible surroundings, working with like-minded people that I respect, and doing interesting work is now a reality. Right now I’m sitting by a lake shore and just before this interview I took a walk through the forest. I like my surroundings to be as natural as possible, and find the dichotomy between nature and high technology design to be inspiring. This is something that is quite different from the business norm, and what I had always pictured, but never thought it could happen. The other great thing about doing something new and fun, is that you are constantly re-evaluating. That agility keeps things interesting.
The biggest challenge is definitely finding time for sales, marketing, and recruiting alongside my usual work. More and more now we generally share these across the company, which helps a lot. What I love is that we all work together to create jobs for one another that can be done practically anywhere, with like-minded folks.
Before Billings Pro, we had no way to keep track of our accounts receivable. I went on Twitter and asked a few people that I trusted what they used. Another iOS developer responded that he used Billings Pro. What I like about Billings Pro is that it has a way of managing multiple clients with multiple projects that makes sense to me, even though I am not a traditional “business professional”.
Flexibility I like the flexibility Billings Pro offers with tracking work in slips via quantity or timer. Timers work for some consultants, but for us it is a lot cleaner to work by quantity. With Billings Pro I can also use blueprint slips to easily share a standard rate and configuration across clients and projects.
Retainers & Discounts The retainer and discount feature are also really helpful because we sell retainers at a discount. It’s sort of like buying a gift card so the amount they pay is the discounted amount and we account for a retainer at the rate they’re billed at. This way they know the value on their statement is the face value of the retainer. Over time the client can see the retainer balance on the statement and see what is going toward their invoices.
Customized Invoices Billings Pro also gives me the ability to customize invoices. We need to be able to separate invoices per project because we partner with other service companies complimentary to what we do, so we end up working on a number of projects for a single client. With Billings Pro, I’m able to customize a template to do exactly that.
Reporting The reports in Billings Pro allow me to see total revenue, how much we have collected, and a breakdown of my projects. Because we are in uncharted territory, it’s gratifying for me to see how far we have come over the first fiscal year.
Native Application & Good Customer Service On top of that, I like that Billings Pro is a native application with good value and a low initial price plan. And even having the lowest possible price plan, I still get the same level of customer service as someone with a more expensive plan. When I ask a question I still get a response right away from a real human being, which is huge.