It’s not easy being a solo entrepreneur. And if you’re a wedding photographer, wedding planner, interior designer, artisan pickle-maker, freelance web designer or developer, chances are you spend a significant amount of time simply managing the mundane tasks it takes to keep the business going. Think creating quotes for customers, keeping your books in order, and managing contracts and invoices. That’s not why you got into business in the first place, but it’s a necessary evil.
17hats is trying to make life easier for these entrepreneurs by giving them a single platform on which to manage all aspects of their business. The company today announced that it has raised a $4 million Series A round led by Wavemaker Partners, which also led the company’s $1.3 million seed round earlier this year.
As 17hats CEO and founder Donovan Janus told me, he came up with the idea for the platform after his wife’s photography business took off. The more successful the business became, the more managing it became a headache.
“Over time, it was rubbing off the joy of starting a business,” he told me. “So I started looking around for what was there to help my wife.”
But what he found was that the market either offered comprehensive tools for more advanced users or a collection of single-purpose services that didn’t play well together. So in 2011, he started 17hats and launched a basic MVP in 2012. The company then launched a far more comprehensive version last October, based on what the team learned from the MVP. Janus told me the team basically had to launch at that point because money was getting tight.
Since then, 17hats has added 10,000 paying users and managed to get to $2 million in subscription revenue in its first year.
The company developed all of the different units in its app in-house, but it also integrates with tools like Google Calendar and services like Intuit.
The service offers monthly subscriptions, but it mostly pushes its highly discounted annual and bi-annual subscriptions. Janus tells me the reason for this is that part of using its service means entrepreneurs have to change their habits — and they are far more likely to do so when they make a more significant monetary investment in the service.
Donovan noted that the company aims to make the service as easy to use as possible, but to help new users during the onboarding process, it holds two webinars per week, as well as one-on-one training sessions for $49 (which comes with three months of free service, which is worth about $39 on the company’s monthly plan).
Looking ahead, 17hats plans to expand its team, which now consists of about 20 employees on its payroll, and marketing efforts.
For the most part, 17hats is going after solo entrepreneurs, though Donovan noted that there are also a number of small businesses on the platform already. Over time, 17hats may add some features for these (very) small businesses, but he wants to be mindful of adding new features that could take away from the simplicity of the current service; he left the door open for maybe adding support for a third-party payroll service, for example.