Web-based timesheet and invoicing system, Ixesha aims to help freelancers and consultants take the load off when it comes to billing clients.
Founder Sean Walsh acquired the intellectual property of Ixesha from a firm who wanted to upgrade their custom-built Microsoft Access system. Ixesha was entirely bootstrapped, with the developmental cost covered by the consulting firm for which it was developed for.
“It was painful to use (the access system) and they wanted to move to something web-based, but after doing a good amount of research into what was currently available, they realised that the access system had a lot of functionality that they had designed, which couldn’t be found in any of the existing offerings,” said Walsh in an interview with Ventureburn.
“They asked me if I could rebuild the Access system as a website for them. At my normal rate, that wouldn’t have been viable for them, but I was looking for an idea that I could turn into a software business, so I gave them a proposal to build it for them at a substantially discounted rate, on the condition that I could sell the software afterwards,” said Walsh.
“Effectively I was buying the IP for the system with my lost income. So it ended up that someone actually paid me to write the code for my startup. That lowered my risk and meant the opportunity cost was much less, say around R300 000,” he continued.
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Walsh has over 17 years of experience in software development, mostly from his time consulting with the public sector.
Ixesha allows freelancers and consultants to record and bill clients according to their time spent working on projects, while also providing users with a time planning feature and the ability to allocate budgets. The site gives users the ability to allocate performance targets as well as analyse the company, project, and team members’ performance using a wide range of reports. This all comes at a cost of US$5 per month after the free trial.
Ixesha aims to save freelancers and consultants time and money when it comes to billing their clients
The system can be configured to support different countries — you simply have to specify the client’s country as well as the currency code, tax and date format. Walsh has mentioned that he has plans to market it in English-speaking countries such as UK, US, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
Walsh commented on the growth the company experienced since their launch back in September this year.”The only sign-ups we got were within our networks, or from referrals of people we knew.”
“Initially, that kind of masked the fact that we weren’t getting many ‘cold’ conversions. We spent some time looking at how to improve our chances of converting people: we extended our free trial to a full year, we removed a number of fields and some functionality to make it simpler to use, we added a five-step guide to help new users get up and running, and we’re busy working on a ‘feature tour’ to help with explaining the more advanced functionality. Each of those changes has been hugely beneficial and is helping to grow our user numbers.”
According to Walsh, their service is cheaper than some of their competitors (Toggl, Harvest, Replicon) but they have faced their share of troubles.
“Once it (Ixesha) was done and ready to launch, it was like my job description got ripped up and I was given something completely different: sales and marketing,” he said.
“Getting the word out to new people, and then getting those people to try the demo and sign up — that’s the hard part. People have a lot of inertia — especially when it comes to their work habits. I speak to people that use Notepad and Excel and Word for their time sheets and client invoicing. When I tell them I have this system and how easy that all becomes, they can’t wait to try it out.”
Despite their challenges, however, their long-term goal is simple and attainable: have enough paying users to be profitable as well as attain investment.
“The journey is just beginning, but overall — so far, so good. A time-sheeting and billing system is by no means a new idea, but I’m confident we’ve got a good product and with time we’ll get where we want to be,” Walsh concluded.
Featured image: Brendan C via Flickr