XU: What is the biggest issue currently experienced by Xero users, in your view, and how do you tackle it?
MA: After a thorough research-based experience we have realized that the majority of small businesses still manage their Invoices, Purchases, Bank Transactions etc in Excel, and then spend many hours daily on manually processing and entering the same transactions into Xero. The team behind Business Importer App, reinforced by recent initiatives such as MTD, has come up with a solution to convert that time into fulfilling more important tasks, while sales, expenses and even journals are digitized automatically.
XU: Which issue does Business Importer resolve for Xero users?
MA: Many businesses are comfortable recording their business activity into Excel sheets, but increasingly so, modern business rules require them to move things to the Cloud. Business Importer offers its users to continue working with Excel, while seamlessly connecting the end-result to their digital accounting system. It also features the possibility to directly sync your e-commerce, CRM, online payment systems and other widely used cloud-based systems with Xero through automated data imports.
XU: How does it work?
MA: You can upload Excel spreadsheets containing the information you would like to appear in Xero (there are certain fields that are required by Xero, otherwise it is up to you what to import). Map the names of the columns in your file to Xero field names for instant recognition. Preview what you are about to import and click on import, which will take several seconds, or minutes in case of an extremely large file.
Schedule your import to happen automatically on the background with a frequency of your choice from a cloud link (Google Drive).
XU: How did you first come to developing Business Importer?
MA: I started out as a Java software engineer and spent 10 years working with different kinds of startups as a tech consultant. While working I observed how when people tried to realize their ideas, being too focused on marketing and technicalities – rather than thinking of their perspective clients – prevented them from moving forward and actually serving the sector in focus.
At some point I came to the idea that I can launch my own products based on the “customer first” model. I knew that it is going to be a challenging path and that it would require a lot of patience and hard work. After all, I’m a software engineer and not an accountant. Inevitably though, while evolving our products, we were gaining a deeper knowledge of accounting as a sphere and a clearer understanding of real needs of businesses and accountants. This led us to creating a tool that now many people tell us they were always looking for, and to me this is a confirmation that we are on the right track.
XU: What makes Business Importer special?
MA: This is a great question! I think it’s something we decided to do early on and it’s to get to know our customers, their needs and expectations and to be there for them. I’ll give you an example: within our industry it’s quite common to have chat bots answering customer queries based on generic FAQ. We, on the opposite side, invest in picking, training and nurturing the best talent to make sure we answer an online chat within seconds of a question being asked and provide a solution as quickly as possible, most of the times right on the spot.
Our team members, then, discuss the most interesting recent challenges at our weekly team meetings and each improvement in the app then is done based on this very first-hand experience of customer’s needs passed on to our developers.
I think that staying close to actual issues real accountants and business owners face in their daily business workflow and investing in top talent is helping us to see one step ahead and keep our focus, which has always been to save time spent on manual data entry, while providing a great place to work at for all members of our wonderful team.
XU: Which type of customers will find Business Importer useful for their business workflow?
MA: Everyone from a small business owner importing their invoices into Xero, to bookkeeper or an accountant working for a large accounting practice with many customers – all of them will find Business Importer to be a real time-saver, freeing up their time for more complex tasks.
XU: What can Xero users expect in the nearest future from your application?
MA: A lot is in store! After introducing great features such as being able to preview your import, schedule imports to run automatically from your cloud, we are working on more things, such as adding pre-select mapping for Amazon, Shopify and other common platforms, which will greatly speed up the process, especially for our new users who won’t have to think twice about.