Meet Patrick Krekelberg, An Entrepreneur with an Against the Grain Approach to Business

Our Customers / November 20, 2014 / Kristie

krekeltronics_tiny_logoPeople start their own business for many different reasons. For some, it’s to put food on the table for their family, or to be able to turn a passion into a career. For others, it’s to make an impact that no matter how small, makes the world a better place. Patrick Krekelberg started Krekeltronics for all of the above reasons. Patrick wanted to take his skills in technology to start a business founded on the concepts of charity and camaraderie

He had started nonprofit Living Honestly in 2011 to raise awareness about sustainable practices such as biodynamic farming, construction, and land stewardship. Attempting to make a direct impact felt right, and by 2013 it was clear for Patrick and his wife Mary that everything had changed. Somehow, his work would need to make a real impact as well.

krekeltronics_patrick_founderWhile technology consultancies are nothing new, Patrick took inspiration from Jacque Berglund and brewer Finnegans which uses 100% of profits to benefit hunger. Building a product design firm around this concept, he felt an appropriate target would be to help provide mentoring, arts and music education, and shelter to those in need.

Patrick realized that his business model was against the grain, but felt the need to make a difference and was fortunate to meet many others that shared his ideology. This led him to start Krekeltronics, specializing in simplifying the middle ground between software apps and hardware. We interviewed Patrick to learn more about how his business came about, and how Billings Pro helps take one added stress off his plate.

Starting Krekeltronics

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.

krek_patrickWorking to Pay it Forward

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.


Krekeltronics_natureMost Enjoyable Part of The Job

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 Challenges We Face Regularly

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.

Finding The Right Solution

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”.

How Billings Pro Fits My Business

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.

patrick_krekeltronicsRetainers & 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.

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.

Keep up with Patrick on Facebook and Twitter.


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