ExpenseMatters : The Source for Expense Management

Interview with ExpenseBay

By on December 18, 2009 in Interviews with 1 Comment

ExpenseMatters.com Interview Series by Cary Strange: Interview #12 – ExpenseBay

With only two more vendors that will be reviewed in our current series, we will be speaking with Eric Sikola, CEO of ExpenseBay. Eric, thank you for joining ExpenseMatters to provide your insights to our readers. To get started, could you provide some basic information about your company?
ExpenseBay is a software startup based in Santa Monica disrupting the on-demand expense reporting business. The solution is designed to automate employee expense reports, streamline company approval processes, and cut operation costs when reimbursing an employee. The product has been live since this July 09′ and has been adopted by hundreds of companies. We have partnered and built direct integrations with NetSuite, Intacct, OpenAir, SalesForce and Tripit. In a matter of minutes, an employee or entire company can be set up and submitting expenses, including directly into their accounting or ERP packages.

What do you recognize as your primary and secondary target markets, and why?
Our primary target is small to mid-size companies using excel as their expense reporting systems. 90% of small businesses fall into this camp and you would be surprised how many mid-size companies have the same issue. Our secondary market is end-users who want to utilize ExpenseBay in conjunction with the existing expense management systems their company uses. NetSuite, Oracle and Openair are great examples here.

It appears that there are quite a few players offering expense technology solutions. What separates your company from other companies providing similar products & services?
A few players are an understatement. I suspect there are 25-50 players, if not more claiming to be in the expense management space. I have used a few of these tools throughout my software career. Here was my conclusion; Very feature focused for accounting departments (Approvals, Policy and a report at the end of the month showing if more Hertz cars were driven then Avis). From the end user perspective, I still spent hours manually typing in expenses and scanning, taping, faxing receipts to the accounting department. On the accounting side, they spent a bunch of money integrating their accounting systems to these expense management applications, the review process was still manual, and when they wanted to change something, an army of experts had to arrive on their doorstep. So we set out to solve these problems.

From the end user perspective, the first thing we did was making it so they didn’t have to manually type data in. Each night we download their credit card activity, properly categorizing the transactions and make sure the display name is cleaned up. Then a unique feature we have built is automatically creating an expense reports for the users each week based on rules they set up. Another unique feature is viewing existing transactions from a mobile device and being able to take pictures of receipt images from the camera phone.

Next, we’ve giving the end user the ability to turn their expenses in the format or system their CFO requires, so if NetSuite is the company standard for expense management, the ExpenseBay user can send them directly in there with a username/password. If they need the expenses exported in a spreadsheet mandated by their CFO, we can support that also. When the finance department wants to send the employee expense reports into their general ledger or accounting package, they can do so by just adding their log in credentials. If a company wants to use an existing approval process (say in NetSuite) we plug into it. If they don’t, they can use ours within the application. The key thing that separates us; we give companies lots of choices that plug into existing processes and applications with no set up cost.

What are some specific key product differentiators that provide you with a distinct advantage over your competitors?
Here are a few I think show our competitive advantage:

– Set up and submit an expense report in minutes. We don’t require any set up fees to integrate with their company ERP/Accounting/PSA systems, just a user license.
– Support for 4000+ different credit cards (Personal or Corporate Cards). Activity is downloaded each night, properly categorized, and the merchant name is displayed properly.
– Expense reports are automatically created every week. These recurring reports can be set this up to run by time period, category, client, project, or by a TripIt itinerary.
– Users or companies can select an expense template from our library. If they have a specific one that is not in there, we can add it.
– Support for TripIt. Expense reports can be automatically created based on your Tripit travel itinerary. We also mash up transactions with trip markers, showing when you took off and came home.
– ExpenseBay Mobile is the only mobile application that allows users to view their credit card transactions and edit/attach receipt images from the camera phone. Cash transactions can be entered in with three clicks.
– Out of the box support for NetSuite, Intacct and OpenAir. No set up, just a username and password makes the integration work. We will be releasing Quickbooks and other accounting packages over the coming months.
– Native Salesforce.com application (Q4 09′ release date) that will bring all the benefits users get with ExpenseBay today into the Force.com platform. This includes approvals, reporting, budgeting, and integrating to other applications.

What are the most important questions that a company (looking for a solution) should ask before selecting an expense management provider?
There are simple rules companies should look for. Number one is the cost to set up needs to be near zero. That should eliminate most of the expense management solutions (if not all). The second rule is that it needs to seamlessly plug in with their accounting /payroll system. The reality is more complex ERP systems have more customizations and will require some work to integrate. But we have proven this can be done with the leading ERP vendors like NetSuite or Intacct, by simply adding the login credentials. Third is to make sure the people who will be using the software on a daily basis are bought in, not just the decision maker. Is it is easy to use? Can it help make their life easier, is there a credible cost benefit to company, is the company being locking into a long-term contract and the provider has proven their support to be responsive.

One of the most frequent questions we receive involve how the products are licensed and installed. What are your thoughts regarding the traditional licensing model versus the software as a service model (SaaS)? Which does your company provide and recommend?
The perpetual license model is on a massive decline. Buying a perpetual license and paying years of maintenance is no longer attractive to a company (especially the SMB space). The main reasons why SaaS is so great; no hardware, no software to install, no maintenance costs, updates are handled by the vendor and the ability to access the application anywhere from a broswser . ExpenseBay is 100% SaaS. Best of all, our set up is seamless, quick and free. If you want to utilize premium features like connecting to NetSuite, all you need is a user license.
Do you have any new customer or partner wins that you want to share with our audience? If so, why did they select your company or product?
There are many customer wins recently, many that have come from our partners Tripit, NetSuite and Intacct. HealthCare IP Partners is one new customer who has selected Expensebay as an add-on to their NetSuite ERP. Credit card automation, receipt management, mobile applications and ease of use tend to be the main reasons why all our partners are bring us into their customer base.

This industry has been in a high growth mode for a couple of year now. What do you see happening with the industry, and the need for these types of solutions, over the next 12-18 months?
I think the biggest trend in expense management is the mobile device. Everything from taking pictures of receipts, to submitting and approving reports can be done from a mobile device. Native expense management applications on these devices make employee’s jobs easier. Fortunately, these devices have delivered much higher quality cameras this past year. So capturing receipts with a camera is no longer a myth but reality. The cost savings and time saving is amazing. Customers tell us they are capturing an entire page from the hotel bill with the camera phone and it is crystal clear. The second trend we see happening is more automation around creating expense reports. An example is having the solution go get my Verizon bill when it comes available and matching it with the credit card transaction.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. Is there anything that we have not talked about that you would like to discuss with our readers?
We encourage your readers to take us for a test drive. Users can sign up for free and try us out. When they are ready for more premium features, they can simply upgrade. We got a great support forum that many of our users post questions, comments or issues too. This is a great place for potential users to see what people are saying about us and how we as a company support the users. You can find the forum on our home page at www.expensebay.com. Please also follow us twitter @expensebay.

If you have questions, shoot us an email at support@expensebay.com or call us at (866) 367-3105. We promise you will not be disappointed.

Eric, thanks again for your time. One of the most intriguing players in the space for sure. If any of our readers have any questions or comments, feel free to contact myself or Eric directly:
ExpenseBay
Eric Sikola
Founder/CEO
1-866-367-3105
Email
www.expensebay.com

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