SIIA recently welcomed, Canadian company, Wave Accounting to the membership. I spoke with their Co-founder and CEO, Kirk Simpson, to learn more about their business. Read the full interview below.
Rhianna: Welcome to SIIA. Tell me about Wave Accounting and what differentiates you from other accounting/payroll products?
Kirk: Wave Accounting is a free online accounting application that is ideal for small businesses with 9 employees or less, as well as bigger companies. Wave offers small business owners easy accounting with unlimited invoicing, expense tracking, reporting, personal finance, multi-user/multi-business access and more—all 100% free. More than 100,000 small businesses have signed up for Wave in more than 200 countries around the world. In its first year alone, Wave eliminated 1,173,712 minutes of manual data entry. The company also recently secured $5 million in Series A funding in Q4 of 2011.
We differentiate ourselves from the competition with smart technology and an innovative pricing model. Some competitors have incorporated some of the features we’re using (bank data aggregation, for instance), but none of them has the whole package, and none have the focus that we do, of fundamentally changing the user experience for small businesses with accounting needs.
Rhianna: I see that you are planning to launch a US version of your product later this year. What hurdles have you faced taking the product across borders?
Kirk: Wave Accounting is already in over 200 countries, including the US. Our Payroll product (Wave Payroll), is scheduled to launch in the US later in 2012. Payroll is a far more challenging product to take across borders because of the tax & legislative compliance that is required. In order to meet that challenge, we’ve been focusing on hiring talent and forming partnerships with organizations to help get us there.
Rhianna:Last quarter you were recognized with a couple of industry awards, including the Deloitte Companies-to-Watch Awards, and the People’s Choice at CIX. What has that type of recognition meant to your business?
Kirk:It’s been incredibly helpful in that these awards have generated a lot of additional awareness for Wave that we might not have otherwise received. Additionally, winning these awards has also given us credibility in the market, which has led to both increased customer acquisition AND customer retention.
Rhianna: Now you have an interesting business model, your accounting product is absolutely free. You monetize from advertising within your product. What feedback have you received from customers and advertisers alike?
Kirk:As you can imagine, our customers LOVE the fact that Wave is free. We target very small businesses (under 9 employees), so keeping an eye on their expenses is obviously top of mind for many of them. Our customers tend to be very web savvy, and often rely on many other free web-based tools (like Dropbox for example) to use in their business. From an advertising perspective, the offers that we serve up in the application are extremely relevant to small business owners, so they appreciate that not only do they have a great free accounting application, but they’re also getting some very rich & exclusive offers on products & services that they are probably already spending money on for their business (office supplies, small business banking products, email marketing services, etc.) From an advertisers perspective, Wave has provided them with an ultra-targeted audience, and they’ve been very happy with the results. We’re able to match targeted offers against aggregated spending levels in various categories.
Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA.