Steven loves small businesses. He had a paper route as a kid. Later, he and two friends ran a small business in college picking up and storing other kids’ stuff for the summer. After grad school, he founded a web company to simplify the insurance shopping process. That business was acquired by Intuit and he spent over a decade there building solutions to help small businesses get paid, use the web to grow their businesses, and run their stores more easily. Outside of being CEO at Outright, Steven is President of the Board of the Bay Area Glass Institute (www.BAGI.org), a non-profit glass studio.
Outright, the product, is an online tool that dramatically streamlines the work involved with running a small business, by helping entrepreneurs pay the right taxes, organize their income and expenses, and keep their businesses on track.
MO: This looks like a great product. When going on your site I was thinking I could use something like this for personal finance at home. Do you have any plans to expand outside the small business market?
Steven: Thank you. I’m glad you like it. We are focused on helping small businesses – there is so much to do for them that we will keep our energy directed toward the small business owner for the foreseeable future.
MO: How has the site and program changed since you first launched it in 2008? And if you have made any changes what influenced them?
Steven: The service has gotten better and better based on customer feedback from our over 100,000 registered customers. We have added support for more e-commerce marketplaces, like Etsy. We have added reporting, based on requests. However, even as we add more capabilities, the priority is keeping it simple and easy for our customers.
MO: Do you feel like Outright is helping revolutionize the way people do their bookkeeping?
Steven: I do because our customers tell us it is. One small business owner told me, “Outright saved my life” and another said, “Outright is the Goldilocks solution – just right for me.” That’s powerful feedback.
MO: Outright is such a visual application that really helps a person instantly see and understand their finances easily. What was your inspiration for the design?
Steven: Our inspiration was, and is, simplicity. Most small business financial programs require training and have a steep learning curve to get up-and-running. We created a product that the business owner could use and get value from on day one to help them manage their business, without needing any training.
One specific inspiration for our designer is household appliances – they are simple, work every time, and no instructions are needed. An example is your washing machine: it saves tremendous amounts of time, performs complex, automated tasks and requires about as much effort as pushing a button or two. Aesthetically they need to look good and conform to current trends but they also need to be able to work with any decor. And their form cannot interfere with function.
MO: With such a unique and user-friendly site, how do you plan to keep ahead of the competition?
Steven: Constant hard work. We talk to customers everyday, look at usage statistics, and prioritize what we need to improve. There’s always the temptation to add more features for power users. But, we constantly remind ourselves to optimize it for the average customer who needs to quickly know how they are doing so that they can make the right decisions for their business.
MO: You seem to have a lot of great testimonials on your site from small business owners. How does it feel to have so many people be so grateful for your product?
Steven: It feels amazing to have small business owners rely on us. Small businesses are sources of innovation, jobs and economic growth and we need to do everything possible to make them successful.
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