From the blog

The CurdBee Weekly #3 – with John Rockefeller

October 18, 2010

Well, here’s another weekly! We must say, we’re having a lot of fun putting these together. One could even call it the highlight of our week here at CurdBee headquarters. Connecting with our users and thinking of stories to tell is a welcome break from the day to day tasks we carry out, and each of these issues only reminds us that we’re at the center of a really cool community. Thanks for reading, CurdBeans. We hope you enjoy the ride.

User Spotlight – John Rockefeller

Marketer, SME and FOSS enthusiast, CEO – John Rockefeller is many things. soma, the company he heads, is similar – it dabbles in everything from photography to Internet marketing. Read on to find out more about this unique outfit, get to know the man behind it, and find out how and why they use CurdBee as their invoicing solution. How did you find CurdBee, and why did you decide on it as your online invoicing platform? We chose CurdBee because it had the things we were looking for to help us simplify and automate our billing. We wanted SaaS (which enables us with access to our invoices and estimates anywhere we are in the world as long as we have an Internet connection), a friendly team behind the software, and software features that would grow with us via modules. Why did you upgrade to PRO? There were a number of features in the PRO version that we needed. It was an easy sell since it’s so cheap. $5 per month. The features we were looking for were the ability to add taxes to our invoices, PDF invoices, SSL, and unbranded invoices. Do you use any modules? If so, which ones, and why? We use a ton of modules. Paypal is my favourite. Also, recurring billing. Recurring billing makes it simple to let your business run itself. You just set up how often to bill, the amount, and relax. soma also makes use of Estimates. It’s really really handy to be able to switch an Estimate to an invoice when you make a sale. You tweet often about Free and Open Source Software and GNU/Linux. How do you think ‘Freemium’ SaaS products like CurdBee fit into the FOSS ecosystem? soma offers a SaaS product built on a lot of open source technologies so there’s a lot of similarities between CurdBee and us. We use php, mysql, Linux, apache… We couldn’t do what we do without the power of Open Source software. But integrating this into the world of SaaS is a slippery slope. My personal feelings are that forcing service providers to open their source code because they use Open Source software to power their service (a la GPLv3) is not the right way to make the greatest change. Instead we should be focusing on pushing changes back to the library trunks as we make modifications to that service. Consider how Facebook, Apple, Google, and even Microsoft have offered FOSS patches for the FOSS projects that they use. Very few firms these days do everything from website development to event planning to videography and social media marketing consultancy. How and why does Soma offer such a massive array of services? soma is able to offer such a wide array of services because we’ve spent a considerable amount of time breaking each of those services into their core elements and seeing where each matches up. For website development, we use somaICE, which is our built-from-scratch web platform designed to enable our social media and marketing management/consultancy. We can easily create a newsletter for our client, send it, see the response, connect to people on Twitter, and convert. Each service helps the next. As a marketing firm, how would you rate CurdBee’s marketing efforts so far? Is there anything in particular you would change about how we approach product promotion? A Blackberry app would be awesome.Other than that? Keep up the great work. You guys have a very active Twitter account, I can easily find all sorts of great reviews via a Google search, and your website is easy to navigate and convincing. How about a Facebook page? As long as we’re getting free consultancy from you guys (thanks!), what advice would you give a small business who is trying to market their product in today’s competitive online environment? We always stress to our small business clients how much more they could be doing easily by integrating their customers directly in their decisions by way of Twitter and Facebook. You hear right from your customers, all the time. The customer is such a large part of any business and yet it is routinely left out of decisions at the shops they buy from. You can tweet from your phone while you’re waiting for coffee or you can ask everyone what they wish was on sale. It’s just incredible access to your customers. And it makes all the difference these days.

Bee Supported – Custom Email Notifications

At CurdBee, we’re always looking for new ways to get out of the way and let you do your think. The ability to customize email notifications was added with just that in mind. Haven’t used this feature yet? Here’s how.
  1. Click the Settings link at the top right hand corner of your CurdBee account page. You will be redirected to a page titled Settings › Company Profile. Look at the right sidebar, and you will see a heading called Customize and under it, a link titled Emails & Notifications. Click it.
[Read Article]

Hive Mind

As usual, our Twitter notification box just keeps blinking as you guys tweet us your comments, complaints and suggestions. Here are a couple from this week.

@curdbee hey curdbee, nice app: reckon you’ll have an iPhone app out any time soon though? :)

We reckon we will, Ian. :) We’re currently in the process of putting together a solution not just for iOS users, but for mobile and smart phone users across many devices and operating systems.

Recently discovered CurdBee.com for invoicing, pretty good

We’d have to agree! Thanks a lot for trying Curdbee, and we hope you’ll continue to use it. Do tweet @curdbee if there is anything we can do for you.

Beekepers

Support. Whether you’re multi-national or a SME, this is often the most important area of your business. At CurdBee, we always tell ourselves that we shouldn’t be doing what we do if we don’t have the time / can’t be bothered / don’t have the ability to respond to our users individually. As a service aimed at freelancers and small businesses, people are at the core of our business model, and maintaining good relationships is a very central focus for us. At CurdBee, our support page is designed to get you in and out as fast as possible. We don’t ask you if you’d like to fill out surveys or rate our service – we know that you’ll tell us exactly what you think by email or twitter. Instead, we let you jump right into the content, whether that means reading official how to articles or posts made by other users. Inter-user interaction is something we value highly, and it’s always nice to see people helping out their fellow CurdBeans with quick fixes for common problems. Of course, we also let you ask questions. In fact, looking at what you guys have to say and seeing how we can serve you better is one of the best parts of the job! So, who is on our support team? Our developers, of course. When you send a support request to CurdBee, your message doesn’t get picked up in an outsourced support center. It doesn’t get read and answered by a robot (or intern). No, at CurdBee, it is usually a dev, often the same dev who is working on the feature in question, who will get back to you. Some may call this uneconomical. We call it realistic. Our devs are more than programmers. They are experience creators, and we want them to be held accountable for the features they develop. Does this mean that developers have to spend some of their time answer support requests? Yes, it does. In the long run though, it means that some things get fixed almost instantly and that the minor changes you guys request are seen to in a timely manner. We’re always trying to make our product do more and we’ve found that some of the best ideas we’ve got over the past few years have been from you, our users. If you’re ever using CurdBee and think to yourself hey, this would be cool – just fire up your mail or twitter client and say hi. We may have a fix for you, we may not, but rest assured that we’ll always say hi back!

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  • http://twitter.com/somaJohn John Rockefeller

    Thanks CurdBee team! I had fun doing this. CurdBee rocks :)

  • Matt Vincent

    Thanks CurdBee, for all the wonderful stuff you are doing. I got to know your service last week when I found a tweet from one of happy CurdBee users and followed the link. I’ve been playing with it for a week now and I am really excited about your service. Besides I must say you guys are doing it in style.

    Keep up the good work and keep sharing the good stuff you guys are up to ;-)

  • Anonymous

    It’s good to know they are using recurring billing.