ExpenseMatters : The Source for Expense Management

Interview with Xpenser

By on December 10, 2009 in Interviews with 0 Comments

ExpenseMatters.com Interview Series by Cary Strange: Interview #11 – Xspenser

Next up in our interview series, we have a couple of innovative companies with a unique take on the expense dilemma. I want to welcome and thank Parand Tony Darugar, CEO or Xpenser, who is joining us today. To get started, could you provide some basic information about your company?
Xpenser is a mobile time, expense, and receipt management company based in San Diego, California. We focus on being with the user everywhere, on any device, and allowing expenses to be captured easily, immediately, and in-context, using simple natural language – for example, as soon as you get out of the taxi call and say “taxi $27 airport to Client X”, or take a picture of your lunch receipt using your mobile phone and email it to Xpenser with the subject “Lunch $49.14 with George”.

We support voice entry (call and say your expense, both in the US and internationally), Email, SMS, IM (Yahoo, MSN, AIM, Google Talk), Twitter, FireFox hotkey, the browser search box, and of course the Web.

We pride ourselves on being customer focused – our users have been wonderfully vocal in interacting with us, and we always devote a significant portion of each release cycle to implementing user requests.

What do you recognize as your primary and secondary target markets, and why?
Xpenser primarily targets small business – 3 to 300 employee companies, although we are also working with some larger folks. Our sweet spot is saving people time and effort in getting expenses recorded, approved, and managed, so it appeals to people who want to spend time on their core business instead of dealing with ugly, cumbersome forms or expense tracking systems.

Our secondary market is accountants and bookkeepers. Our users introduced Xpenser to their accountants, and soon we had a ground swell of accounting and bookkeeping firms requesting features to make their lives easier – to deal with the “remote transaction capture” problem (i.e. the client with the shoe box full of receipts). We’ve introduced a number of features that appeal to accounting firms and departments, opening a new market for us.

It appears that there are quite a few players offering expense technology solutions. What separates your company from other companies providing similar products & services?
Most of the other solutions look very similar – mimicking the paper based process in an electronic form. We attack the problem with the goal of making it as quick and painless as possible. Xpenser was born of personal need, so we experimented with many different models and found recording expenses and receipts immediately from any device to be the key – what we like to call “fire and forget” expense management. There’s no sense in trying to put together an expense report based on a wallet full of receipts and spreadsheets full of credit card statements weeks after the trip – record expenses immediately and never think about them again.

We also found that people don’t like to learn complex systems just to manage their expenses – they’ll submit expenses in whatever form makes sense to them. We’ve put a lot of effort into making sure we’re flexible enough to understand what the user means – for example, “dinner $58.11 with Jack of Client X yesterday” will automatically get categorized as a meal with the amount of $58.11, be filed in the “Client X” folder, and be dated for yesterday.

What are some specific key product differentiators that provide you with a distinct advantage over your competitors?
Our availability on any device, anywhere, and our ability to understand user input without forcing awkward commands. For example, NetBanker called the ability to record expenses via the browser search box “so clever, it’s almost creepy”, and the LA Times called Xpenser “so useful and so incredible, truly something astonishing.”

Xpenser also integrates time tracking, allowing both time and expense to be recorded with the same ease – for example, an attorney can call and say “conference call 27 mins matter X” immediately after taking a conference call in the car, or a service professional can clock in by IM’ing “time start design review” to the Xpenser IM bot, and later clock out by SMS’ing “time stop 15 mins ago” from the parking lot while getting into the car.

Companies particularly like Xpenser because it provides a much more current view into expenses, reducing expense submission time, allowing more accurate bookkeeping and more immediate cost control.

What are the most important questions that a company (looking for a solution) should ask before selecting an expense management provider?
Will this system save me and my employees time or will it waste their time with antiquated models and processes?

Think of the amount of time and frustration your employees experience in managing their expense reports, the amount of effort involved in reviewing and approving the reports, and in getting the information to your financial systems. Pick the system that minimizes your time loss and allows you to concentrate on your core business.

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?
Xpenser is SaaS based – expenses are collected on the Xpenser site and categorized, submitted, and approved via the Web. This makes it extremely simple and fast to adopt – no internal installation, no administration hassle, and so forth. Combined with the ability to export the expenses and synchronize them with the internal financial systems this provides the best of both worlds.

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?
We’re very pleased to have a wonderful group of partners – FreshBooks, Outright, Jott, and Dial2Do to name a few – but we’re most excited by the adoption of our APIs. Even though they’ve only be released for a few weeks we’re already seeing people building new device specific interfaces and connections to backend systems with them. We’re strong believers that your data belongs to you and aim to support as many ways to interact with Xpenser as possible, and fully support API based integrations.

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?
The current economic conditions have brought focus to managing costs more directly and in real time, allowing a better handle on the bottom line while making it easier and faster to invoice customers. Xpenser helps with all of this, so we see the market opportunity only growing over the next 12-18 months.

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?
Think about the amount of time currently wasted struggling with expense reports, then sign up for a free Xpenser account ( http://xpenser.com/ ) and see how easy and efficient it could be. Try Xpenser and have your employees and accounting department signing your praises instead of dreading and delaying expense reports.

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

Roohi Khan
Director of Sales
(858) 227-4583

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