ExpenseMatters : The Source for Expense Management

Interview with Expensify

By on September 23, 2009 in Interviews with 0 Comments

Expense Interview Series by Cary Strange: Interview #2 -Expensify

Our last interview was with the industry leader Concur, but today we are talking to one of the industry innovators – Expensify.  David Barret, CEO of Expensify has joined us to answer some important industry questions with ExpenseMatters. David, I heard about your company from some of the PR & awards you have received this year.  Could you provide some basic information about your company?
Expensify is a 4-person San Francisco startup shaking up the online expense reporting market, one small business at a time.  Expensify has been featured on TechCrunch and VentureBeat, in Inc. Magazine and the Nilson Report, on stage at the San Francisco and Palo Alto New Tech Meetups, and as a finalist in the prestigious Finovate Startup 2009 and Silicon Alley Startup 2009 competitions.  Expensify is listed as an AlwaysOn 250 “innovator and disruptor”, was awarded “2nd place DemoPit Winner” at the TechCrunch50 conference, and was recently picked as the “audience favorite” at the Salesforce Cloud Computing Challenge as well as a finalist in the ongoing Force 40 competition.

It appears that you have built your application around the small business market.  What do you recognize as your primary and secondary target markets, and why?
I’d say the primary and secondary markets are “small businesses” and “very small businesses”, respectively.  Basically, you’re at the high end of our target if you’re under 1000 employees, getting warmer at 100, and in the bull’s eye at 10 or even down to sole proprietors.

As for why, frankly, small business is where all the action is.  The inexorable grind of technology has finally made it possible to offer the best high-end functionality to the smallest end of the market.  This means it’s a land rush to lock up the >90% of small businesses who are still stuck on Excel and email, and who are thirsting for a better way.

It appears that there are quite a few players offering expense technology solutions.  What separates your company from other companies providing similar products & services?
Expensify is built to support the existing ad-hoc, email-based processes that small businesses already know and love (or at least, know). So adopting Expensify doesn’t mean committing to some rigid process that – despite the best of your intentions – you’ll probably abandon in favor of the tried and true. With Expensify, keep your process, no matter how crazy it is. We’ll just make it go faster.

Expensify is for taming the wildest organizations; the others just teach already-obedient organizations better manners.

What are some specific key product differentiators that provide you with a distinct advantage over your competitors?
I’d highlight the following:

Expensify Salesforce.com Create

  • We import 94% of US credit cards directly online, straight from the bank.
  • We create IRS-ready, Expensify Guaranteed eReceipts for most purchases.
  • Our iPhone application offers mobile receipt scanning and expense logging.
  • Our “just works” receipts@expensify.com service converts basically anything you send it into an electronic receipt, ready for attaching to the report.
  • We export direct to QuickBooks, so you just hit Print and hand out reimbursement checks – without any typing.
  • We integrate directly into Salesforce.com
    so you can link expenses to specific accounts for tracking the cost of customer acquisition.
  • You can sign up for free and submit your first real expense report in minutes, without asking anyone’s permission.
  • We can reimburse expense reports up to $10,000 entirely online, directly through our integrated payment system, to and from any checking account or credit card.
  • Basic expense reports are 100% free, and we only charge $1/report to export to QuickBooks or reimburse online.

At the end of the day, for our market, we’re the cheapest, fastest, and most powerful solution.  We don’t try to do everything for everybody, we just do what our customers need.

What are the most important questions that a company (looking for a solution) should ask before selecting an expense management provider?
“How much will I need to customize your product to support my process?”

Lots of products will “work”, given enough effort. You want the product that works for you, right out of the box, without any customization. We feel Expensify does that: it just does want you want, on the first try.

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?

There are a number of common reasons why SaaS is handy: it requires no installation or administration, it’s accessible globally, it enables us to integrate with external systems without affecting your firewall rules, etc. But one often overlooked benefit is it’s actually more secure, too. Consider:


We import directly from bank accounts and reimburse real dollars online, meaning we deal with some of the most sensitive information imaginable. Accordingly, we adhere to the PCI security standard (the same standard that banks and PayPal follow). This is an incredibly detailed, 260-point standard governing everything from how often we change passwords to the incredibly powerful types of encryption we use for our most sensitive data.  Achieving this level of security requires detailed conversations and due diligence with our financial partners, constant monitoring, and frequent updates. This is a level of commitment that can’t reasonably be expected of a customer’s IT organization.

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?
Users choose us because we’ll have them up and running before a competitor even gets around to returning their call. We focus on the people who experience the most pain: the people who *submit* the expense report. They sign up, import their credit cards, and submit real expense reports in minutes – without asking their boss or finance department for permission, and without paying a dime.

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 we’re just at the start.  Over 90% of companies still don’t automate their expense reports. This is a land grab, and success will go to those who sign up the most companies the fastest.  Everything Expensify does is about speed: speed to sign up, speed to submit expense reports, and speed to reimburse. I feel the long-term trends work in our favor.

I think you are exactly right and the market continues to be ripe for solid expense solutions. Is there anything that we have not talked about that you would like to discuss with our readers?
I know it’s anachronistic in this faceless digital age, but we believe customer service is everything.  Write us at help@expensify.com, call us at 800-745-9064, or tweet @expensify to contact our crack support team. Alternatively, if you want to talk with me personally, don’t hesitate to email me direct at dbarrett@expensify.com, tweet me at @quinthar, or call me personally at 801-860-0540. We can’t wait to talk with you.


David, thanks for participating with us and I look forward to seeing Expensify continue to grow throughout the year!

To all of our readers out there, if you have any additional questions or would like to speak with Expensify about your T&E needs, please send me an email or contact David directly:
David Barrett
CEO, Expensify

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