“What’s more boring than accounting software? Business progress reporting!” says Duane Jackson, who previously founded and sold online accounting software startup KashFlow.
His latest venture, Supdate, aims to solve another pain-point faced by startups: how to provide investors with regular updates in a way that is useful to them but also reduces the time taken and cognitive load for founders.
Speaking about his decision Jackson said: “Since selling KashFlow I’ve been a seed investor in a small number of startups and I was struck by how badly most of these businesses keep their seed investors updated on monthly progress. It’s either neglected entirely or done in a rather ad-hoc fashion. I’ve spoken to other, more active, investors and they see the same problem.”
Supdate.com aims to solve this problem by making the process much easier for the entrepreneur and more useful for the investor.
“I can related to the problem from my own experience” says Jackson, “When you’re staring at a blank email at the beginning of a new month it’s hard to know where to start. It’s much easier to do something that feels more productive like the next software release or a sales call”
The software takes a formulaic approach to the problem. The entrepreneur spends a little bit of time configuring the software to suit her specific business – entering key metrics and defining business areas. Then each month they just fill in the blanks and are prompted for an update on each specific area. A report is then generated complete with charts and comparative figures for previous months and stated targets.
Whilst being attractive to time-strapped entrepreneurs, it should also appeal to investors who want their portfolio companies to keep them up to date. As well as benefiting from a consistent reporting format, regular updates should mean they can be aware of – and help resolve – business issues sooner rather than later.
The software is being provided for free and, whilst it solves this key problem, the features are relatively basic.
“I can think of hundreds of ways to improve what we’re offering and features people will be willing to pay for” says Jackson, “But I’m keen for our users to tell us what they want us to add”
This customer-centric development approach has worked for Duane before. He launched KashFlow in 2005 as not much more than a basic invoicing tool. It grew to become the industry leading SaaS accounting platform with over 20,000 paying customers before being sold to IRIS Software for a reported £20m in 2013.