SohoOS is on a tear. Users are growing at a rate of 30% month-over-month, just recently shooting past 400,000. And soon, the company will make a hard bet on a brand-new design — a complete revamp — aimed at singeing it into the backbone of the small businesses it serves.
Some background: SohoOS offers small businesses a utility suite of applications, for example, invoicing, CRM, and inventory management. The startup, which I’ve been following since its debut, closed a $1.75 million financing round led by Mangrove back in January.
I recently had another chance to sit down with the company, with the revamp being the core of our conversation. It’s a bold bet that is based on insights from the hundreds of thousands of small and micro businesses the company has on-board.
What the SohoOS found out is that small businesses are used to services (think QuickBooks, FreshBooks, InvoiceMachine etc.) that market a particular value proposition, that being, efficient accounting. The premise is that the heart and soul of a small business is its accounting activities. Except SohoOS found that small businesses don’t see it that way at all, and for two main reasons:
First, actual accountants are still very much in the picture. This means that the services such as the ones noted above aren’t a substitute, they’re more like data collection silos. Second, small businesses don’t see ‘accounting’ as the heart and soul of their businesses management activities. Rather, it’s the ‘contact’ they view as the heart and soul. Don’t mistake this as a subtle difference, it’s a holistic difference, and is the one that SohoOS is betting the entire revamp on.
Eran Manor, lead designer at SohoOS walked me through the new design (see screenshots below) where every action is centered around the concept of the contact in question. As Manor put it, they reverse engineered an iPad app to create the new UX for the web application. Sure enough, everything is 1-2 clicks away. The screenshots below aren’t final, but paint a very clear picture of the ‘contact in the center’ approach being bet upon. The new design will be rolled out to all users in the over the next two months.
One other aspect I’ve always like about SohoOS is that unlike the conventional wisdom, of ‘do one thing and do it well,” the company is focusing on several services that are key to the daily management of a small business. These are: invoicing, billing features, CRM, inventory & project management.
The thinking here is that providing these things to a sufficient depth allows SohoOS to appeal to a larger userbase. With the US, UK, and the EU constituting 54% of the userbase, this is a smart move.