invoicing online

When running your own business, invoicing on time is a critical need. Because once you have completed a project, you need to invoice your client – otherwise all the hard work on the project will not help you to pay rent and your other monthly expenses.

Discussing the invoicing issue with some of my (freelancing) friends, we initially did some research and came up with few very promising solutions.

The two that impressed us the most are Side Job Track and billQ. What is striking about both – they are free, as in free beer. Though with no guanrantees attached, they are both hosted and perform pretty solid.

During a short interview, Nick of billQ was kind enough to answer a couple questions about his service and the motivation. Enjoy!

1) What is the general motivation behind billQ, how did you get started?
We built this application because we needed it. It started as an idea by Zack (lead developer) and then grew out of further conversations between Zack, Josh, and I. Beyond that immediate need, we also have been frustrated with the personal finance options out there. They are overcomplicated and clumsy. We felt there was an opportunity to develop something better, especially if it was web-based.

2) Why do you offer your product for free?
We offer billQ free because we view it as an advertisement for our company. billQ is an example of how we design and build web sites and applications; it is how we are introducing ourselves to the community. If we are successful, then when we expand our suite of applications or introduce a subscription-based version, our customers will be more likely to follow.

3) What makes your service stand out from e.g. sidejobtrack?
I feel that we have a fairly unique service. We have a vision of what the product needs to be and we will focus on that. An application like SideJobTrack is more of a project management and invoicing app and I don’t feel we are stepping on each other’s toes. Beyond that, I also think that the design and execution of our services allows us to stand out. Ideas are one thing, but how you execute your idea makes you stand out.

4) Will you offer a downloadable version of billQ in the future?
We don’t plan to. Offering billQ as a hosted service allows us to have control over, and ensure, the best level of service. We also think a hosted service makes it much easier for our users. They just sign up and they are on their way. No installation or server settings to mess around with.

5) Regarding privacy, how do you keep your clients data save?
All of our data in stored in an encrypted database and will never sell or abuse any of our users information. We also don’t collect any sensitive bill information. All you need to enter is the bill name, amount, and due date. And if you are uncomfortable with any of that, you could always name a bill something more ambiguous like “Bill 1” and still receive the reminder before it’s due.

6) You do not guarantee availability. Is this a service you will add with a pay service further down the road? Do you do any backups for your clients?
As a free service we can’t afford the costs associated with guaranteed uptime and availability. When we expand and offer a subscription-based model, then we will change how we approach this. We do keep backups of the database just in case.

7) Do you offer an API for your clients so they can download/upload their data?
Right now we don’t offer an API. This is something that is definitely on the list, but we have some other things to take care of first. We really want to get billQ where we want it before we release the API.

8) What is the technology behind billQ?
billQ is built with Ruby on Rails and uses a MySQL database. There is also a lot of custom JavaScript used along with Prototype. The front-end is also standards compliant XHTML and CSS.

9) Do you consider yourself Web2.0?
We try not to get caught up in that stuff. Buzzwords tend to fade quickly. We do consider ourselves a company that strives to make useful, well-designed, and easy-to-use applications and web sites. Hopefully that will outlast any trend.

10) Anything else, you would like us to know?
To keep up on the latest news about billQ and to read our thoughts on a variety of topics check out our blog at Other than that, thanks to everyone who has signed up for billQ so far, and thanks for the interview.

Tags: htmlcenter, billq, , , sidejobtrack