Archives For January 2013

Have you ever dumped all of your receipts on your hotel bed before numbering them, arranging them, then snapping a picture to document those transactions… only to then make an excel sheet to explain those pictures and numbers to your accounting department?

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This saves time and hassle, right? THAT SOUNDS LIKE A MYTH TO ME.

Busting the Myth with Expensify

No more losing receipts, no more numbering, and no more playing receipt Tetris at the end of a long day! With our mobile apps and eReceipts, you can report your expenses more quickly and hassle free.

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The Expensify App

The Expensify mobile app (available on all major platforms) will allow you to simply snap a picture of your receipt and it will automatically be uploaded to your account.

Bonus buster: If you use our SmartScan feature, you don’t even have to create the expense. Our automated technology will automatically read your receipt and create a corresponding expense for you!

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IRS Guaranteed eReceipts

If you import a bank/credit card, you don’t even need to keep the receipt for expenses under $75! We will automatically create an eReceipt that is IRS guaranteed. Automatic expense imports save you time by eliminating the hassels of paper and excel system.

Anymore expense reports myths we can dispel? Email us at help@expensify.com.

In conjunction with SIGNALFIRE, Expensify threw an afterparty for their University Hack-a-thon… and it was EPIC. Of course we had a great time chatting with quite a few collegiate geniuses about their projects in the hack-a-thon, but that wasn’t the point. We wanted to give them a chance to relax and celebrate their hard work. So, thanks to SIGNALFIRE, all of our participants, and everyone who helped make the party a massive success.

EXP-AIC

If you didn’t make it, you missed:

  • Tons of dim sum and sushi
  • Milkshake bar (They do exist!)
  • RFID check-in/point system for the party developed by one of the university teams

And a photoshop booth manned by our designer, Shawn Borton (immediately below):

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Here are some of our favorite products of the photobooth:
Devang

DanVidal

DonaldDuck

pulakmittal

PuneetSmalls

SalTesta

Name: Shawn Bortonbort

Alter ego/Nickname: Bort, Shane Burton, Bortista (for his supreme barista skills)

Hometown: Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

Roles at Expensify: Chief Photoshop Officer & Part-time Designer

Expensify Start Date: 10:00 AM US PST on September 10, 2012

What is/has been your favorite project to participate on at Expensify?

Refactoring the sign in page. It turned out very well, and the team contributed some really cool images for your sign-ining pleasure.

Life outside of Expensify?

An abysmal chasm of confusion, loneliness, and darkness. (He’s on a pretty bad FIFA losing streak.)

Outside of Expensify and FIFA, you can find him wandering about the city by day, playing soccer by night, and getting $10 haircuts in the Tenderloin bimonthly.

What is your idea of happiness?

A 25 yard knuckler, 20psi of boost in my 1.8T, my Grandma’s meat pie. (Soccer banter, fast cars and Grandma Meola’s fantastic Easter-time dish to the laymen)

What is your idea of misery?

Spending a day with Internet Explorer.

Favorite hero?

My mother Linda – notably for her accomplishment as a back-to-back breast cancer champion.

If you could have a mediocre super power, what would it be?

The ability to untangle headphones with one hand.

How do you want to die?

In exactly the same fashion as General Maximus Decimus Meridius.

What would you look like as a statue of Buddha?

This:

Inspired by his recent trip to South East Asia.

Inspired by his recent trip to South East Asia.

Managing multi-page PDF receipts in Expensify is simple. To begin, just upload them as you would usually (forward to receipts@expensify.com or upload them to the site). Once uploaded, you are free to attach the PDF to an expense much like any receipt image. You’ll notice that the thumbnail image in Expensify only displays the first page; don’t worry, we’ve got the other pages too.

In order to view all receipt pages just open the ‘Edit Expense/Receipt’ window and click the ‘download’ button below the image. This will open the receipt, in its entirety, in another tab in your web browser.

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Alternatively, select the ‘Include full page images in PDF’ option on your report before printing a PDF and you’ll be able to view all pages of a receipt in the resulting PDF.

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If you have any further multi-page questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at help@expensify.com and we’ll get them smoothed out.

"You have no reason to trust me except that I said you should."

“You have no reason to trust me except that I said you should.”

Nearly everybody in Silicon Valley agrees on how a company is supposed to be run. These are codified into a nebulous set of “best practices” — the pre-packaged advice that is handed out to nearly every startup, in nearly every market, under nearly every set of conditions. But if there’s one thing I’ve come to believe is that “best practices” generally aren’t.

I do a lot of thinking, but I rarely have the chance to share it. Granted, most of that thinking is probably not worth sharing, so you’re not missing much. But I was suggested to share the below advice sent to an entrepreneur friend, who had remarking on how advice received from another entrepreneur made him feel stupid (is that confusing enough)? Here goes:

Also, I’d suggest avoiding hanging out with people who make you feel stupid. It’s possible that you are stupid and they’re brilliant; I’ll grant. But in my experience, I’ve dealt with countless people over the course of my career who made me feel stupid, and history has shown most of them to be idiots. On the other hand, some of the smartest people I’ve come to trust make me feel smart too — they find a way to build upon and improve my ideas, rather than convincing me my ideas are bad and jamming their own ideas down my throat.

As for enterprise versus individual pricing, I think that is a secondary to a far more important question: what is your strategy to acquire customers? If your plan is to advertise your way to growth, then I’d agree: you’re an enterprise company.

That means you should stop trying to sell to individuals or small businesses, and immediately reorient around a strategy of selling to companies with 1000+ employees. (You’ll have a lot smaller than that, but you’ll lose money on them.) Turn off self serve and instead require everybody to just fill out a marketing form. You’ll likely charge what feels like an absurd amount of money per seat, and you’ll need a heavy top-down sales organization to do it. Customers will pay even though most seats will go unused, and you’ll laugh at their folly. You’ll likely have a classic top-down sales structure: a marketing team that generates “marketing qualified leads (MQL)”, handed to a sales team that has a front-line group of people who just qualify the MQL’s into “sales qualified leads (SQL)” by confirming they have the “BANT” (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing). You’ll probably sell custom-negotiated annual contracts, sold by a salesperson making a 15% commission on first year’s revenue. Then it’ll be handed over to an account manager who is bonused by reducing churn. You’ll need to get your metrics dialed in pretty early, demonstrate that your CCA>LTV, then raise a ton of money and spend it immediately, then go raise more. It’ll have a pretty heavy management structure — VPs for everything as early as possible, each running a large, aggressive organization underneath it — something like 30% marketing, 50% sales, 20% engineering. The sales team will be super aggressive with huge quotas with minimal base and large commission, but it’ll be hard to hit so you’ll have maybe 30% annual churn, in a boilerroom setup.

Some variation on this is basically how every top-down enterprise company sells. They don’t always start out this way, but they usually end up this way. This is the best practice for a silicon valley startup: it’s what everyone tries to do. It’s what everyone will tell you to do.

It works about 5% of the time.

Remember, 95% of all startups utterly fail. No return to any investors. That’s why VCs have a portfolio theory: they invest in 20 companies with the expectation that 1 will pan out. They really don’t care which one — they have no particular reason to hope that you succeed over the other 19 companies. They just push them all as hard as they can, knowing that 19 will fail, and 1 won’t.

The thing is, as an entrepreneur, you don’t have a portfolio. You have 1 company (a houston auto glass shop in my case). And are you sure you want to bet your whole company on a strategy that has a 95% failure rate?

To be clear, I don’t know that any other plan has a higher success rate. But I don’t know that other strategies necessarily have a *worse* failure rate either. I’ll also say that other strategies are a lot more fun and satisfying, and provide a better balance of risk/reward. (Though “better” is a judgement call: if you have it in you to pump and dump and endless array of startups, each 1-2 years in the making, than the former strategy is perhaps better. But if you want to build a company that users rave about, with people you like and hope to work with for a long time, while enjoying life outside work — you might consider alternatives.)

Furthermore, I will say that most of the truly great companies didn’t follow the above plan. Salesforce didn’t. They do now, of course, but when they started, they were all activity-based pricing and self signup in the SMB — up to something like $14M in revenue — retreating upmarket because churn was high and they couldn’t raise money after 9/11 to weather the storm and thus focused on moving upmarket as fast as possible to address cashflow concerns, essentially abandoning their SMB roots in the process. Concur — our ostensible competitor — was the same, layering on enterprise sales *after* succeeding in the SMB (and eventually leaving it behind entirely). Intuit — our *real* competitor — never did this. DropBox didn’t do it this way, and Box.net didn’t start this way (they were forced to go enterprise after DropBox dominated the individual and SMB — Box’s current business model is Plan B). Yammer does it this way now, but didn’t at the start: they got their start with viral in the SMB, but found their product only really provided value in a large company.

A good story you might investigate is BetterWorks. They bet the whole company on the above model. They had marquis investors, founders with near celebrity status. They were the darlings of “Silicon Beach” in San Diego — a pillar of that entrepreneurial community. They had amazing design, hired fantastic people, executed with extreme aggression. They raised $10M. Read this upbeat coverage: http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/13/betterworks/ Wouldn’t you want your startup to be regarded as highly? But then read this, just *eight months later* http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/24/betterworks-shuts-down/

My only point is: nobody knows what is going to work, and anybody who claims otherwise is an idiot — especially if they make you feel stupid for believing them. At the end of the day, you’re in this because you feel you’re smarter than the next guy. But that’s only true if you stop listening to the next guy, and start listening to yourself.

Have you ever been in the (simple, painless) throes of your expense reports but when you go to categorize and tag them your options are all sorts of crazy??? So you categorize/tag incorrectly and get slapped with report violations all over. No hope for submission?

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Signs and Symptoms that you may be in the wrong policy:

  • As a policy admin, you cannot see reports that your employees have submitted
  • Categories and tags are incorrect
  • You are asked to submit to the wrong individual
  • There are report violations that don’t apply to your desired policy

Changing your Report’s Policy

Chances are, you are operating under the wrong policy. Don’t fret! All you need to do is toggle to a different policy in the upper right hand corner of your report.

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Setting your Primary Policy

Different policies are designed to apply to different departments, teams, or subsidiaries, but naturally one individual may fall into multiple categories. There is no extra cost for having multiple policies so go wild! You can even designate a specific policy as your Primary Policy. You will see a list of all of the policies that you are a part of by clicking Settings > Policies. Your Primary Policy will be highlighted in yellow.

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You can easily set a different policy as your Primary Policy by simply toggling in the top right corner. The change will be reflected in the newly highlighted policy depicting your primary policy.

Crisis averted!… you’re welcome.

Each year, the IRS updates the reimbursable mileage rate for business travel to reflect the costs for operating a vehicle. With (still) prices going up, you are now able to claim $0.565 per mile travelled in 2013. Check out the full details on the rate change at IRS.gov.

All new Expensify accounts created after the mileage rate change takes effect will already be updated with the new rate.

For personal users, change your rate by going to Settings > Preferences and clicking the ‘change’ button to the right your miles unit.

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For policy managers, please go to Settings > Policies > (choose your policy) > Basics and change the ‘Mileage Rate’ of your policies if you are using the IRS rate.

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Disclaimer: We do not update everyone’s mileage rate because a vast many of our users utilize company rates as opposed to the IRS rate.