Start-up promises to get small firms paid on time

13 May 2010 offers an easy-to-use online invoicing and cash-management system, helping businesses create and send invoices and manage payments in just three clicks. Rod Condell is co-founder.

Ireland is notorious for late payments to SMEs. What difference can make?

The idea behind it is we offer a free standard service for invoicing with cash management time tracking. And once people get comfortable with that, we will offer advanced add-ons such as project costing and inventory management.

Because we’re a new company, in order to get to know us and trust us we currently offer the system for free. The free version comes with just the basic system as an invoicing tool and we’ll offer add-ons. Most small companies will grow into that need. We’re trying to be the iPod of accounting systems that most small businesses will use.

What other services does the site offer?

We decided no matter how free or how basic the system is, aside from invoicing what other accounts do you want to your people to file? The decision we reached was expenses.

If you have a bunch of expense receipts in your pocket, the system allows you to file these expenses in a fast, coherent fashion.

How many firms have signed up for it so far and are they all Irish?

To date 2,200 small businesses have signed up – the top category is the US, followed by the UK, South Africa, Ireland, then Pacific countries. We even have Mauritius. All our systems are standardised to take into account the standard issues most firms around the world deal with when it comes to accounting, expenses and invoicing.

How did Billfaster start?

I had previously developed another online system that we sold then to a company that had raised lot of funding in the last year. It is a higher up, more mid-range system. All of this is done in the internet cloud.

The next thing we’re doing is upgrading the hosting service to carry 4,000 users and adding paid-for features. That’s how we intend to monetise.

Aside from PCs, can the system be used on iPhones and iPad devices?

We are developing a new version that is ideal for touchscreen devices. We are developing for high-speed entry for mouse and touchscreen devices as well as the iPad, the BlackBerry, Windows 7 Mobile and also touchscreen devices across across the Windows 7 range.

How will you fund the company?

We are at present an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up and we want to develop revenue streams on a global basis from day one.

The demand for the service is so high that we had to ramp up hosting for the system, which is built on SQL Server and HTML.

It’s a hard market to get funding, but for our type of business, because so many people are starting their own businesses across the world, they do look at services like ours. If they get something out of it they’ll pay for the add-ons.

The key to the system is simplicity. We’ve had firms who signed up at 10.45am and they had sent their first invoice to customers at 10.49am.

How do you market the service online?

We surveyed customers and found that we had a lot of referrals. We got known using Google Adwords. We got to move right up the ranks because we learned how to use search engine optimisation.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Rod Condell, co-founder of

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years