Rachael Power caught up with the co-founder of Receipt Bank at Xerocon recently to learn more about the mobile app that promises to simplify one of the messier aspects of small business accounting.
Michael Wood co-founded the app company Receipt Bank in 2010, because “I hated losing a day to data entry and found that in trying to keep track of paper receipts, some of which I would misplace, I lost about £1,000 a year,” he said.
Receipt Bank is a mobile app that lets users take pictures of a paper receipt with a smartphone or tablet and feeds the data through to a number of cloud accounting software packages, where the transaction is automatically recorded.
At Xerocon, Receipt Bank was hailed as Xero add-on of the year for the second year in a row.
Wood first came across the concept of consolidating paper receipts into one online report when working as a consultant marketing director and suffering from having to report his end of year expenses.
“I came across a company called Receipt Farm. You sent your receipts away in an envelope and they manually scanned them and sent back an email with all your data in,” he explained.
Wood found the service “incredible”, but was frustrated that the emailed data didn’t link up with online accounting software.
When he rang the firm to tell them this, however, he found out it was about to close down.
“So I contacted them immediately and asked if I could buy it.”
Wood got in touch with a former colleague at Triple Point Investment Management, Alexis Prenn, who helped him acquire the receipt service and became co-founder of the renamed Receipt Bank.
While sticking with the original idea, the pair decided to introduce a greater degree of automation by replacing the email exchange with a mobile app that could extract and feed data to the emerging breed of cloud accounting systems.
The app also creates a unique email address for each user, to which their suppliers can send invoices, and a Freepost service for those who still insist on using snail mail.
Wood and Prenn worked with accountants and bookkeepers to ensure their app could satisfy their requirements.
“We knew less about accountancy firms than we thought,” Wood said. “Straight away we had a lot of requests for new items and features from accountants. It’s been a very enjoyable journey and the product has changed a lot over time.”
In February 2012, Receipt Bank linked to cloud accounting packages such as Clear Books, Xero, Kashflow and FreeAgent and picked up its first app of the year prize at that year’s Xerocon in New Zealand.
After this, requests came pouring in for their app from abroad. Receipt Bank started turning from a UK-focused developer into a global player.
“Accountancy firms in New Zealand, Australia and Canada started phoning us saying ‘we want in’,” Wood said.
Receipt Bank has opened offices in Australia and New Zealand, and tweaked the product to make it more trans-national. Further enhancements include a Paypal facility and integration with the TripCatcher mileage app.
Wood said there were further plans in hand to expand the app and his international team to meet growing demand, which is now coming from accountants as well as their small business clients.