CEO of Invitbox talks about world-first data extraction technology
No more paper bills or data entry ever again with Invitbox – the world’s first cloud-based data-extraction solution for bills that allows business owners to approve and file bills easily. CEO of the startup, Roger Gregg, shared with Shoe String the genesis, development and success of Invitbox over a period of two years since its launch.
All a client needs to do is ask their suppliers to email their standard bill as a PDF to their @invitbox.com email address. At this point, Invitbox’s patented technology takes over, stripping out all the data in seconds, and presenting the bill and the data to the relevant person to approve with the click of a big green button. The data is then exported to accountancy software and point of sales systems before being filed online for seven years.
Roger Gregg, CEO and Founder of Invitbox says on average, it will cost a business in Australia approximately $16,000 for the data entry of 1,800 bills.
“We process bills from as a little as $0.35 per bill and this means we can save an “average” business about $15,000 annually,” he says.
The inspiration behind the technology
Prior to the birth of Invitbox, Gregg was an Operations Manager for a Sydney-based hospitality group. He explains there were 35,000 bills a year requiring manual data entry across the company.
“We could not get the cost down below the $10 a bill mark. Basically we were spending as much on data entry in accounts payable as we were on marketing. I thought that surely there must be a better way than this? Surely there was a simple solution we could subscribe to? But there wasn’t,” he says.
At the time the idea behind Invitbox emerged, Gregg didn’t set out to create world-first technology, nor create a suite that could save businesses worldwide $2.8 trillion dollars. He was only out to develop a solution to a problem he was all too familiar with. But what the technology has been able achieve in the past two years has been phenomenal.
“Data entry costs Australian businesses alone nearly $60 billion dollars a year. That’s the cost of the National Broadband Network. Funny… you don’t hear everyone complaining about how much data-entry costs them, but that’s because everyone just assumes it’s a necessary evil,” says Gregg.
From idea to commercial reality
The Sydney-based company has grown rapidly since its launch in 2011 – now with a team of nine employees that serve customers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, the US and the UK.
Initially, they didn’t plan on raising money, but as they advanced further through the development phase, they realised bootstrapping was not going to help them reach their full potential – this is the same time they started realising they were “on the cusp of something really special”.
“One of our very first clients was so blown away that they offered to invest to get us to the next level,” says Gregg.
While their target market is small businesses, they’ve been in talks with more and more enterprise clients.
Gregg says the worldwide market adds up to $100 billion in bills per year, and they are hoping to secure 1 percent of that within five years with the correct strategic partnerships and funding.
The beauty of Invitbox is that it’s a cloud-based product and a no-touch service, which means they (the company) don’t have to manage the operation of the system.
Thus far, they’ve spent “well into the seven figures” on the technology and the business.
“We’re spending more today than during the development phase. Conception of the product came with a 12ft wide whiteboard, four coloured markers and a large coffee pot in a shared office in Surry Hills,” says Gregg.
“The wine importer and the photographer sharing it with us must have wondered what we were up to. I also didn’t have just as much grey hair back then.”
Some of Invitbox’s biggest clients include Riversdale Group, Pelathon Management Group, Keystone Hospitality and Abacus Solutions.
They’ve recently started a blog called ‘Meet the Gravy’ where Gregg regularly interviews up and coming entrepreneurs and personalities from the cloud and accounting space.
“This is a fun blog that seeks to create awareness about Invitbox as well as build networks and relationships with these like-minded people,” says Gregg.
He adds that the company’s marketing strategies are simply based around engagement and high quality customer service.
“The tech space is awash with absolutely rubbish customer support. We do not offer what people expect in that regard. We offer service above what they hope for. You then get chatter around that,” says Gregg.
The Invitbox client can pay from $19 a month to eliminate paper, data entry, price checking and filing.
“We charge much less than the price of a stamp to process a bill, as well as creating an easy way of accessing your data,” says Greg.
Australia’s software industry
He stresses that when small businesses and enterprises implement Invitbox, they are making a sound investment and supporting the development of the software industry in Australia.
“The bottom line is that Australia is far too expensive a place to do business. There is no way a US company would set up shop here if they have to deal with these costs; hiring a programmer in Australia costs about 70 percent more than in the US,” says Gregg.
“To build a more vibrant IT and startup industry in Australia, we need to create a vision that articulates the value and future of this industry – what unique advantages we can offer in a world that is increasingly commoditised and driven by cost – and we need to reduce the cost of doing business, but without sacrificing the quality of employment.”
In recent months, Invitbox has raised its profile at numerous industry events alongside their partner Xero, generating greater brand and product awareness across the globe.
“I just returned from XeroCon in San Francisco and I’ll be jetting off again to XeroCon in London, Web Summit in Dublin and the Sleeter Group Accounting Conference in Las Vegas in the next few months. I am very excited to be attending the upcoming Web Summit, not only because it is held in Ireland (I lived there until recently), but Invitbox is one of only three Australian start-ups attending,” says Gregg.
Invitbox also received an Emerging Add on Partner Award at XeroCon in Sydney. This annual award recognises organisations for their delivery of services using Xero and their high quality innovation and marketing.
“We are really excited about this award, as it proves Invitbox is growing to become a major player in the market and I suppose how much they and their accountancy and bookkeeping partners value us,” says Gregg.
For more information, visit www.invitbox.com.