BodeTree, an online service that helps small business owners better understand their finances, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding, led by Denver-based Greenline Ventures. Though a company working to address the money management needs of business owners would seem, at first blush, to be a competitor with Intuit, BodeTree has actually grown by partnering with them – ties it expects to soon deepen in the weeks ahead.
The startup’s product is currently featured in Intuit’s App Center, a site undergoing a refresh this June after which it will relaunch as Apps.com. The new approach will see the service as less of a add-on marketplace, instead resembling an almost Apple-like app store featuring software and solutions designed for small business owners.
Following the new investment, BodeTree no longer plans to be just an Intuit partner going forward. The goal, explains co-founder Matthew Ankrum, is to go “platform neutral.”
“Anybody who has an accounting software system will be able to get the benefits of BodeTree,” he says. For now, that focus is on the SMB customer, but longer-term the company may expand to address either the high end or low end of the market.
Those benefits, for those unfamiliar, is an online dashboard-like interface that helps business owners better understand where their business stands today. It uses colorful widgets, charts and graphs to draw the eye, and playfully includes a red, yellow, or green “BodeTree guy” sitting under a window entitled “Business Enlightenment.” (The color, of course, indicates your current progress.)
The mascot – and the startup’s brand – is something of a play on the concept of Zen-like enlightenment. The message being that you can find peace with your business finances.
But this lightheartedness serves another purpose, too – it makes something that’s decidedly boring and unsexy kind of fun, as CEO Christopher Myers told us when the service launched last spring. This quarter, BodeTree will release an all-new version of its service which aims to make its user interface even more visually appealing, notes Ankrum.
“We’re going to move it from being a powerful, connected, holistic reporting tool to something that’s much more of a management tool, so [users] can see what’s happening in their business and make better decisions,” he explains.
In addition to the expanded partnerships, BodeTree’s funding will also be used to beef up its online university product which offers financial and business management classes to SMBs, led by experts. The new university will adopt the SkillShare model, where 70 to 80 percent of the revenue earned goes directly to the teacher. Business owners will pay $20 to $50 for each week-long class they sign up for, the founders say.
Today, BodeTree has more than 5,000 paying customers who either paid a $49.95 monthly fee for the service, or pay $495 per year. This is an increase from its launch prices, but it is still less expensive than the business consulting services the startup aims to compete with and the high-end financial software programs on the market today.
BodeTree’s now 15-person team will also grow, with plans to hire more developers, plus sales and marketing.
Also participating in the round that closed just this week were an eclectic group of other angel investors, which the company couldn’t disclose by name. But Ankrum referred to them in broad strokes as: “a founder of a large accounting and advisory firm out of Chicago; a CEO of a Fortune 500 company; a managing director of a private equity fund that also co-heads their small business fund; and a former White House Cabinet member.”
More on BodeTree, including sign-up, is here.