Expensify, the startups that’s looking to take the endless headaches out of expense reports, is ready to get down to business. The site has just launched its 1.0 release, which introduces a revenue stream, as well as a totally revamped UI and new features designed to suit the needs of its users.
A lot has changed for Expensify since we last covered it. For one, the company has largely ditched the pre-paid credit card it intially launched with as its core product back in September 2008. The card was meant to serve as the designated card that you’d use exclusively for any business expenses, which would make them easy to keep track of. CEO David Barrett says that as it turns out, most people don’t really want another credit card — they just want to keep using their regular credit card and have Expensify figure out which charges should be expensed. Now, that’s exactly what Expensify does.
As with sites like Mint, Expensify can pull in your transaction records and automatically categorize them. Barrett says that one of Expensify’s competitive advantages is that it has built its own system for importing these transactions, rather than having to rely on a third party like Yodlee. It can automatically import E-receipts (so you often don’t need a paper copy), and in the cases where one isn’t available you can just take a photo and import it. Once your transactions are in the system, you can ensure that all of the expenses are properly tagged and then submit the expense report to your business’s bookkeeper for reimbursement.
The submission process is another area that’s seen a big change. Barrett says that when Expensify first launched, the startup thought that most users would be submitting their expense reports to their company bookkeeper. As it turns out, many companies actually outsource their bookkeeping to a third party (so you might have one person in charge of 20 different company accounts). And many people who are self employed were using the site to simply track their expenses, even though they didn’t really have anywhere to submit them. Expensify’s workflow is now more flexible to better suit these users. To make the site easier to use for bookkeepers, it now features improved support for Intuit’s QuickBooks (you can now import Expensify reports straight into QuickBooks).
From a looks perspective, Expensify has cleaned up nicely. To paraphrase Barrett, the site has finally hired some designers instead of relying on C++ coders to figure out the presentation. The site is also launching mobile apps for BlackBerry, iPhone and Palm Pre.
Up until now, Expensify has been free for users. All beta users will be grandfathered into free accounts going forward, but from now on new users will have to pay to use the service. It will still be free for anyone to submit their expense reports to the site, but in order for a business to approve those reports (and pay employees back through Expensify) businesses will have to pay $5 per reporting employee, per month, with the first two free. In other words, if you have four employees submitting expense reports in a given month, you’d pay $10.
Expense reports stink, and they’re something many people have to deal with on a regular basis. Expensify may not have quite nailed the solution with their initial launch, but they’ve adapted quickly. We’ll be keeping an eye on them in the future.