If you are a regular TechCrunch reader, describing a product as a SaaS hybrid of Quicken + Zoho + SalesForce, would paint a fairly clear picture in your mind of the product. And this is pretty much what Soho OS is. Thing is, the odds that their target user bases, small and micro-business, are regular TechCrunch readers, are slim.
But let’s push the ‘how to succinctly describe the offering’ issue aside, because Soho OS really does offer a well-rounded package of small business management services, from CRM, to invoicing, to VOIP. And it comes at an unbeatable price: it’s 100% free, with a commitment to remain so forever.
Soho OS is giving out 1000 access invites to TechCrunch readers. Get yours here: http://www.sohoos.com/welcome/techcrunch/
The founders of Soho OS built it specifically for micro-businesses, with fewer than 10 employees, for example freelancers, design houses, boutique PR agencies, etc . The idea was to provide a number of key businesses utilities for free, with a few premium ones as the base for a business model.
Sure, the interface could certainly use a UX overhaul with some American product design sensibility, but this is what Beta releases are for, and a chunk of the company’s next fundraising round has been earmarked for such an overhaul.
Once logged-in, users are presented with three main areas: Business, Networking, and Services.
The Business area is populated with the following ‘golden-oldie’ business utilities:
- Accounts – Account management with shared calendar & email features.
- Sales – Purchase and sales orders, leads and quotes management.
- Marketing – Campaign management and tracking.
- Finance – Bookkeeping and client billing.
- Inventory – Products management, price lists, vendors and purchase orders, automatic inventory renewal, sales and purchase order alerts.
The Networking area is aimed at helping small businesses add or better manage their social online activity. Twitter and Facebook feeds can be added and easily converted into actions such as tasks, leads, contacts and events. Other features include:
- Chat – With internal and external users.
- Inbox – Including mass email capabilities.
- Contacts – With multiple tasks such as sending SMS, faxes and voice messages.
This Services area section offers premium services on a pay-as-you-go basis. These include:
- Text & Voice Messaging – To single contacts or groups.
- Fax – Both sending and receive.
- VoIP – Both domestic and international calls.
- Conference Calls – Perform conference calls.
- Credit Card Processing – Process and track credit card transactions.
Based on a few hundred users, early traction is encouraging. Here is some data the Soho OS team shared with me on a recent campaign it ran on Facebook:
- 55% use Soho OS 9 times a month or more, 36% use it over 26 times per month.
- Average use time is 31min per visit.
- 20% out of the 400 approved beta users (out of 1200 requests) consume premium services.
- The leading premium service is VoIP followed by SMS and Fax.