Interview with Jim Secord (Kashoo)
Kashoo is an online accounting service for freelancers and small businesses.
I interviewed Jim Secord, Kashoo CEO to find out more. This is the hundred and twenty fifth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Jim!
Give us the elevator pitch. How would you describe Kashoo in under 50 words?
Kashoo is simple cloud accounting software for small business owners on the go. Few people like bookkeeping, but our highly rated iPad application makes invoicing, expenses, and taxes a breeze by taking the complexity out of managing your business finances.
Describe yourself in one sentence.
I’m a total tech geek that loves accounting.
What were the main factors that led you to become CEO of Kashoo in October 2009?
The founders received a strategic investment from a large financial service provider in and the investors wanted someone with experience in building a SaaS business. I had built two successful cloud based product lines in the real estate vertical, but more importantly I have a passion for accounting software (not kidding) and saw Kashoo as a great opportunity to disrupt a very large market.
How involved is founder, Dobes Vandermeer?
Dobes Vandermeer along with his co-founder and wife May Chu founded Kashoo because they were frustrated with QuickBooks. They are serial entrepreneurs at heart and once they got the company off the ground they decided to move halfway around the world and start a new venture. They are still involved at a board level, but not on a daily basis.
You are also the founder of Kurio, the first smart phone application for REALTORS and consumers. How do you balance your time between your role at Kashoo and at Kurio?
Today I’m an advisor for Kurio and I help the team with product strategy and related issues. From a time perspective it’s only a few hours a month, but I get totally inspired by working with both teams and ideas often cross pollinate. It’s great to draw on the experience and diverse talent of both groups. I highly recommend having a couple of projects on the go to gain a wider perspective.
Who uses Kashoo?
Business owners and entrepreneurs who want to save time and gain better insight into their business by doing their own bookkeeping.
Who is the team behind Kashoo?
We’ve got a small 12 person team, with most of our energy directed towards product development. Our team is very flat and unstructured. My partner is Chuck Clark, who joined the team in 2011 as CTO. He was the chief architect at Orbitz travel and understands how to scale cloud and mobile platforms. Not only is he one the smartest and most practical people with whom I’ve worked, he also has great people skills and has helped build our stellar team.
Do you have any new features in the pipeline?
We don’t like to talk about anything too specific until it’s ready for release, but I will say our focus is simplifying the whole bookkeeping process by leveraging the platform offered on mobile devices such as touch interface, location, voice, camera, contacts database, calendars, and NFC (near field communications). We’re working on some amazing things to streamline bookkeeping!
What do you wish you’d have known 5 years ago that you know now?
Umm… other than Apple stock was a deal at $80 in early 2009? Seriously, I had a hunch that native apps running on smartphones would trump mobile websites. There is always this tectonic shift in technology every 5 or so years and you need to move with conviction. We wasted a lot of time debating mobile web development vs. native apps when we should have just focused on what provided the best experience for our customer.
Has Kashoo got the feedback and growth expected in order to turn Kashoo into a leader in the online accounting market for small businesses since your recruitment in 2009?
In the past year we’ve had over 50,000 people from 150 countries setup their business in Kashoo and we’re the most popular iPad accounting app on iTunes today. In June 2012, our team was recognized as the “Startup Of the Year” from the British Columbia Technology Industry Association, which is an amazing honor. We think we’re definitely on to something!
Where do you see Kashoo in 5 years time?
We will change how small businesses approach bookkeeping. Invoicing, payments, and receipt capture along with access to all their financial statements and client data will be available in real time to business owners on their mobile devices. At Kashoo, we’re going to be the leader in bringing accounting systems to mobile.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor?
Our biggest competitor is the shoe box and pen and paper. Until we make it simpler and faster to capture transactions on your smartphone or tablet that will always be the case.
What do you like most about being CEO of Kashoo?
It’s amazing to get emails and tweets from customers about how much they love Kashoo and how it has made their life simpler. At the heart of Kashoo it’s all about the business owner and making them successful. Very rewarding.
What is the hardest thing about being CEO of Kashoo?
Every time I talk or exchange emails with someone that has signed up for Kashoo I feel personally responsible for their experience and satisfaction with the product. I’m not sure that’s a healthy burden. There is so much we’re always working on and constantly improving, from my perspective the product is “never quite perfect” and I tend to feel guilty we’re not pushing out changes faster.
What is the biggest hurdle you, personally, have faced or are still facing?
I like to think I’m a very good leader, but recognize I’m a very average manager. Holding people accountable is a challenge for me. With Kashoo, I’ve built a small team of very driven and skilled people and I do my best to support them.
Who helped you get to where you are today?
We have a great investor and board member, Steven Ibbotson who not only provides financial resources but really understands the challenges and nuances of selling to small businesses. He challenges our assumptions and strategy on regular basis and keeps us focused on our goals. I also participate in a mentor group through the British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC.CA) and have two seasoned software executives in Sandra Wear and Kirk Hamilton that I’ve been working with over the past year to bounce ideas and strategies off.
From your experience, what piece of advice would you give to someone starting up their own business?
Do something you really love. It’s probably the most common advice given to people starting a business, but it matters. For the amount of time, energy, and emotion that goes into building a business, it better be something you are passionate about.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
The new reality of the software business. You don’t need a team of hundreds of people, offices around the world or millions of dollars in infrastructure to build the next killer app. I love the App Store ecosystem with standardized platforms, worldwide distribution, user reviews, and the ability to reach millions of customers.
Can you convince the reader to start using Kashoo in under 50 words?
Worrying about company finances and bookkeeping keep me up at night. With Kashoo I’m always on top of cash flow, sales, and our budget. It’s the simplest app you can adopt to gain control and peace of mind over your business finances.
Finished reading? Check out Kashoo!