Thanks to the guys at DocketBank for reaching out, hot on the heels of Pocketbook, DocketBank is another financial software startup out of Sydney but going after a much smaller but potentially very lucrative SME market with an interesting alternative to traditional MYOB and other small to mid tier accounting applications.
Launched with Web, Android and Iphone Apps straight out of the gate they are aiming to take a chunk out of the SME market, either recruiting Micro businesses who are working without an accounting system (and I have to believe there are 100s of thousands of these) and those that don’t want to pay MYOB $400-600 a year for their accounting software and who are not accounting or even financially literate in many cases and operate out of a shoebox.
When I asked Matthew about some of the funnier moments of getting the start-up launched (we all look back and laugh but often they were not that funny at the time) it seems like there was a number of false starts, “Well, we have almost launched three times since January this year and each time there has been a ‘whoa’ from our founder (Mat) … ‘I’ve got an idea!’ Of course our marketing person (Elizabeth) would say – ‘let’s go anyway and develop it on the go’, the manager (Bruce) would ask ‘how long will it take to implement?’ and then the developer (Jon) would say ‘we need an elegant solution’ … eventually we developed a product that we were all happy with and launched in on the 1st July. Worth the wait as it is now perfect with the Apple and Android app singing … and syncing automatically with the website … but many sleepless nights!
I have been through this startup situation a number of times over a 15 year period and have implemented numerous accounting systems, I was an MYOB customer and shareholder during the Dot Com boom float and got the shares (thanks Craig), but I have previously noticed during the intervening 15 years that they crawled up from running small and micro businesses to attacking the mid tier and their pricing and complexity reflected this.
I think Saasu.com validated this micro market but they too seem to have climbed up the food chain albeit not as far as MYOB. I think its a very interesting market one which is ripe for better accounting solutions (read easier).
I asked founder Matthew Phillips about their positioning and who their main competitors were he commented “We don’t really regard Pocketbook as a competitor as they are aiming at the personal finance market whereas we are focused on helping SME’s who have teams on the road and need to capture receipts and spending in real time. This market finds our shared user feature invaluable. DocketBank is designed to be the starting point for business owners and managers concerned about their finances and tax reporting”.
What is not clear to me is if they simply aim to compete with Expensify.com capturing receipts and spending (albeit in a sophisticated way) or if they plan to be the full accounting system for the new micro business.
I don’t think they will take existing customers from MYOB, I think those that are moving will probably default to SAASU, however I think there is a place in the market for a micro business accounting system, my feedback after looking at the Web app is that it needs to get a lot easier to setup, I want a full set of accounts to start with rather than have to manually set all of these up (remember I am not an accountant, oh actually that’s not true, I do have an accounting degree :).
Whilst they are seemingly focused on collecting and categorising expenses and managing budgets it just wasn’t clear that they could actually output them to an accounting system, which in my mind means that an established firm with an existing accounting system might find something like this useful to capture spending and feedback to field personnel their budge position, without a link to their accounting system its hard to imagine the accountant manually transferring the data.
As to suitability for a starter accounting system for a micro business, it didnt seem to have the needed BAS generator or profit and loss and balance sheet aspects.
I don’t want to trivialize the startup process, its a tough game, but in order to win it you need to know exactly what problem you are solving and who you are solving it for, I think Docketbook is a good place to start for collecting receipts but I think they need to decide if they are an SME accounting system or a mid-large business expense capturing tool and then focus exclusively on those customers and build the features that market wants.