Hosted by Tech Crunch and Venture Beat, the 8th Annual Crunchies Awards will be presented Thursday, February 5, 2015. This competition celebrates the best startups, internet and technology innovations of the year.

Each company has been nominated and hand-selected by the Crunchies Committee based on their accomplishments during the year 2014. Each category includes five companies and voting is open to the public. Today is the last day to get your votes in!

Drum Roll Please…

Expensify is excited to announce our customers who have been nominated in the following categories:

Best On-Demand Service
Choosing a favorite in this category is impossible with so many great services used daily. Whether we are traveling and need a place to crash, in a time crunch to ship out our swag, or stranded across town, these on-demand services all deserve a Crunchie.
Hotel Tonight’s motto involves planning less and living more. If you give them 10 seconds they’ll get you a great deal at your soon-to-be favorite hotel.
Lyft is easy, and affordable with some of the friendliest drivers you’ll meet all day.
Shyp is the easiest way to ship anything, anywhere by simply request a package pickup and they take care of the rest.
Uber seamlessly connects riders to drivers through their app making cities more accessible.

Best E-Commerce Application
We are busy little Expensifiers who need fuel throughout the day. We are huge advocates for this application, ordering sometimes twice a day!
Instacart connects you with personal shoppers in your area who deliver groceries from your favorite local stores in as little as an hour.

Best Design
Medium is a platform for everyone from professional journalists to amateur storytellers and non-profit leaders so they encourage writers if you’ve got something to share, jump in.
Our designers, Shawn and Leanne, are totally aligned with this nomination. Medium has a beautiful interface, easy navigation, and the photography… oh, the photography!

Best Bootstrapped Startup
Grammarly‘s flagship product corrects contextual spelling mistakes, checks for more than 250 common grammar errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and provides citation suggestions. With more than 4 million registered users worldwide, there is no doubt they’re going home with a Crunchies.

Best Enterprise Startup
Github is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over eight million people use GitHub including us Expensifiers!

Best Education Startup
What’s not to love about startups bringing easily accessible classes to better this generation and the next? We love them both… who will you choose?
AltSchool is a collaborative community of micro-schools that uses outstanding teachers, deep research, and innovative tools to offer a personalized, whole child learning experience for the next generation.
Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

Best New Startup of 2014
Shyp (see above)
Product Hunt is a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.
Two totally different concepts. We suggest you purchase great new gadgets on Product Hunt & summon Shyp to surprise your family across the country!

Best Overall Startup of 2014
Another toss-up here with two applications everyone at Expensify HQ love. A good SnapStory on a night out followed by a safe ride home is what millennials’ dreams are made of.
Snapchat is a photo messaging service where users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a list of recipients.
Uber (see above)

Fastest Rising Startup
Reddit is an entertainment, social networking service where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links.
Lending Club is the world’s largest online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors.

Founder of the Year
Not only do we love Zendesk as a customer, but we are huge fans of their application. Expensify’s support team relies on their tool to efficiently answer users’ questions daily. Mikkel Svane, Alexander Aghassipour and Morten Primdahl, founders of Zendesk, are clearly getting our vote!

We hope you love our Expensifers as much as we do… what are you waiting for? Vote now!

 MSP Logo black text

This week’s Expensifier of the Week is MSP Leadership, a London based company developing and inspiring leaders of all levels through executive coaching, leadership development and team development workshops.

MSP-Leadership was founded to push the limits of leadership in pursuit of excellence. A former Concur user, expense reports used to take time away from that. The MSP team used to “spend years scanning receipts and filling out spreadsheets,” says Director Aaron Penwill. With more complex reports on their horizon, they knew it was time for a change. As a result of the switch, the team agrees they work at least 20% faster than Concur and 200% faster than their old expense reporting process.

All It Took Was One Click

The most beneficial asset to using Expensify is the simplicity. “Everything is easy to use and the mobile app allows every team member to capture expenses on the move.” They also love the ability to save reports as a PDF to provide clear evidence of expenses in-line with clients’ policies. Aaron says “Bye, bye depressing stock piles of receipts with your crinkled paper and small font, hello Expensify! Your slick app, nice colors, and snazzy photos of receipts are highly recommended to improve your workplace, your work, and your well being!”

It’s More Than the App

Aaron agrees saving time on approving expenses leaves him more time to “concentrate on causing anarchy in the face of doing good.” He recommends Expensify because of ease of use and customer service. He says, “…you get a sense they [Expensify] want to know who their customers are. They seek feedback and listen to it.”

Not only does Aaron agree our app is great, he also agrees people are the backbone of an organization. Creating the right environment for employees to flourish is a major part of creating a team that believes in organization and works towards its goals. “Creating a ripple effect, starting with the leadership, takes something small and makes it legendary. Not only has Expensify’s app changed our organization’s financials, but working alongside a company who sees eye to eye with our values gives us that added trust. We are so glad we switched from Concur,” says Aaron.

Ready to see for yourself how Expensify can help you have more time to focus on the important things?— It’s free for the first 30 days!

You might have read recently that we added merchant auto completion to some parts of our product.

Merchant Auto completion

Merchant auto completion on the new expenses dialog

This “simple” addition required some thinking on how people are using our product and what would be the best experience for them.

Like every product change, it is crucial to define how important this feature is and how important the flow supported is. Editing the merchant name of an expense is part of the expense editing flow. While important, this is kind of a secondary flow for us. We are optimizing the usage of our SmartScan and bank import technologies to automate the process of creating expenses in an user account. By using these two technologies in conjunction with Expense Rules, users can automate the vast majority of the expense reporting experience.

Despite that however, the ability to manually change a merchant name is still necessary because:

  • SmartScan can fail
  • The name of the transaction in the bank account might be terrible
  • The user simply needs to create a cash expense.

Having auto completion for this step is not mandatory, but it can make the user experience much smoother. Details like this make the difference between a great experience and an amazing one.

Prepping the Build

With all that in mind, we can only spend a few hours building this auto completion mechanism. Why? We are a small and dynamic team, and we need to aggressively prioritize our development hours to projects with the highest ROI.

The first question we asked ourselves regarding auto completion is the origin of the data. Where does the merchant we are suggesting come from? Are they merchants the user has previously used? Or are we picking our suggestions from all merchants in our system?

1. Using Data From User History vs. All Data History

Basing auto completion on a user’s past expenses runs into issues quickly as a new user with a brand new account. With no historical data, it would be very difficult to find merchants for auto complete. On the other hand, if we pick from all merchants in the existing Expensify database, there is a much higher chance that someone else has bought something from this merchant, so we can easily find that merchant and offer it as a suggestion.

2. Variations – What Should We Do?

Expensify’s database holds millions of different merchants from all over the world and in every business area imaginable. Sadly, this amazing source of data can not be used directly, because for each merchant, there can be a dozen variations due to inconsistent cases, typos, location, or other extra information.

Let’s take the Hilton hotels as an example. We have “Hilton”, “Hilton hotel”, “Hilton hotel San Francisco”, “Helton”, and possibly many other variations. This level of variation can be due to user input but mostly comes from our bank import technology, which allows users to automatically import their transactions coming from their bank account and into Expensify. The same merchant can show up completely different depending on the bank; for example, you might have noticed that merchant names in your bank statements are not exactly nice or accurate, to say the least. We have a few ways to “clean up” the data imported, but the number of possible variations makes it impossible to be perfect.

3. Solving the Variations Issue

Why is this diversity is a problem? Well, if the user starts to type “Hilton,” the suggestions he could get include  “Hilton”, “Hilton hotel,” “Hilton hotel San Francisco,” or “Hilton New York,” which are in fact the same exact merchant. What if the user was looking for a merchant called “Hilton BBQ”? It could have appeared immediately if the hotel suggestions were collapsed into one.

To solve that issue, we could just clean our data set by removing the extra suggestion and keep only “Hilton” for the hotel. Problem, we would need to review every single merchant in our database to check if we want to offer a suggestion with it or not. What we can do instead is to build a smarter algorithm that weights the results.  The autocompletion will not just be based on the merchant that starts with the same letters, but it will also take into account the frequency/popularity of the merchant. As a result, the most popular merchant will be shown first, and the more letters the user types, the more precise the suggestions become.

Auto completing "S"

Thanks to weighted result, we can suggest popular merchant even after 1 letter

In our current implementation, we are using a combination of both: we have extracted and cleaned merchants and we are using their frequency for the suggestions.

Building Out the Feature

With all these parameters, how did we actually build the auto-categorization feature?

We couldn’t go with a pure JavaScript implementation because we have way too many merchants to send with the site, and if we wanted to offer the same functionality in our mobile app, we would need to recode the same algorithms.

So instead, we need an API around that. The API has to be extremely fast to allow us to autocomplete as people are typing. It has to scale with our spiky traffic, should not wake our ops team at night but still be up all the time, etc. To do this, we decided to use Constructor.io, a brand new service offering autocompletion as a service. We send them our data set, and in exchange we get a purely functional, worry-free, API endpoint to get our autocomplete suggestion. And because autocompletion is their business, they offer a feature that we would not have thought such as typo handling.

Handling typos in suggestion

Even if the input is “Stor”, Starbuck is being suggested at the end, to handle the case of a typo

Thanks to Joanie for the proof reading. This post was originally published on my site.

We rolled out our NetSuite integration to much fanfare in May of 2014 and saw a tremendous response from both new and existing customers. The integration combines the best of both worlds — the user-friendly Expensify UI with NetSuite as the powerful backend and system of record. Since May, our customer success team has been hard at work getting companies set up on NetSuite and we’re excited to announce a new feature that is going to make the already best-in-breed integration even stronger — custom fields!

Expensify presents NetSuite Custom Fields gif

Now, for all transactions (both those exported as Expense Reports as well as Journal Entries), we support three mapping options — NetSuite Employee Defaults, Tags (line-item classifications) or Report Fields (report-level classifications) — for the following NetSuite classifications: departments, classes, locations and/or customers. This makes it more seamless to assign classifications in the sync options dialogue and will allow us to more easily add new functionality to the integration in the future.

Interested in learning more about the integration or getting it set up for your company? Check out our Help page on connecting with NetSuite where we outline how to easily get this set up in just a few minutes. As always, our customer success team would love to help out if you have questions. Please reach out to us at help@expensify.com.

Zagster and Expensify

In a world that zigs, Zagster is giving people a better way to go. Since 2007, Zagster has been adamant about one goal: get people riding bikes. By focusing availability to areas that traditional city-wide bike shares can’t reach, Zagster has drastically changed access to efficient transportation.

Zagster’s popular Breezer bike

How it works

Using the Zagster mobile app, available on iPhone, Android, and online, riders simply enter the unique ID number of the bike they wish to use and an access code is provided. Once the bike is returned to a Zagster location, the touch of a button ends the rental and releases the bike for the next rider.

A fork in the road with expenses

While Zagster was making big changes in the bicycle sharing world, their expense solution needed to be retired. “Believe it or not,” recalls Timothy Ericson, Zagster’s CEO and Co-founder, “we were using good old-fashioned spreadsheets.”

Zagster and Expensify

The push behind the pedal: Timothy Ericson, CEO and Co-founder of Zagster

Moving to an automated process was the obvious next step for Zagster. The only roadblock? Finding a tool to fit their technical requirements. “We needed the new solution to integrate with Quickbooks,” says Ericson. “We were looking for a solution that would reduce the administrative workload on our team, not just shift it to another department.”

Aside from the seamless integration, Ericson and his team was impressed by Expensify’s other features. “We’ve been really pleased with Expensify so far. The employee credit card feature is a great feature that will allow credit cards are paid by the company to be properly categorized and go through the proper policies, reducing time and effort by an internal manager.”

“We hate paper,” Ericson continues. “The mobile app allows us to keep on top of the many receipts that stack up when we all travel. An app that allows us to take pictures of receipts is among the best benefits of Expensify.”

Zagster’s advice to other startups?

“If you’re a startup and you’re not using Expensify, you and your employees are spending too much time on the wrong things. Expensify reduces the administrative work on your team so they can focus on what they do best- building your business.” 

Ready to see for yourself how Expensify can help you avoid speed bumps?— It’s free for the first 30 days!

Want to ditch the single life, but too busy to date?

Lucky you, we’re featuring our neighbors in SOMA, Coffee Meets Bagel, as our first Expensifier of the Week in 2015!

Coffee Meets Bagel Logo Loves Expensify!

Not only are they an awesome Expensify user, but CMB could also be the answer to those nights on the couch watching Frozen… alone.  Continue Reading…

A new year is always the perfect time to break the cycle.  Stop doing what you hate, and find something you love to take its place.  This includes job hunting — if you hate your job, do something else.  Like everyone else, we’re eagerly hiring, so if you are intrigued by what we do, here’s what we look for:

Plan out your projects

Have a side project you’re passionate about? Figure out how to get it done!

Continue Reading…