MinuteDock founders James Nisbet and Nik Wakelin are a couple of Wellington lads who jumped at an unseen market opportunity when they grew tired of copying and pasting timesheets into invoices at the end of the month.
Ask any professional for a downside to their job and it’s guaranteed tracking their billable time, down to the minute, ranks among the biggest – right up there with awkward drunks at the office Christmas party.
From a small office just off Courtenay Place, four Wellingtonians have streamlined this painfully dull task of tracking company time and turning it into cold hard cash.
MinuteDock, the online tool created by James Nisbet and Nik Wakelin, takes the hassle out of logging hours and minutes and their small start-up now boasts just as many international clients as local ones. Like many Kiwi SMEs, the success began with an idea, which “was all about scratching our own itch”.
Nisbet says they saw the opportunity when, as IT consultants, they grew annoyed at how long they spent tracking, logging, copying and pasting minutes data to their online accounting software.
“First we just wrote a script to export our timesheets to our accounting software, Xero, and then a friend asked if we could do the same for him. Suddenly we thought, ‘Hang on, there’s a business here in this’.”
They were baffled that their synchronisation of minutes to moolah had not yet been offered to the market.
“Not only does it integrate easily into different accounting programmes but the whole idea behind it is to completely remove barriers to using it,” Nisbet says.
This means users can now even tweet their hours and minutes to MinuteDock. (Exactly why users were on Twitter on company time in the first place can be left for discussion at the next staff meeting).
“When billing clients, you want to be doing billable work, not wasting time tracking that time,” he says. “It shouldn’t interrupt workflow. But we also offer a unique interface, which doesn’t force you to decide what you are doing before you do it, in terms of billing.”
Dealing with the nuts and bolts of business bean counting is starting to pay dividends for the team of four.
Needless to say, many professionals, who now spend less hours and minutes tracking their previous hours and minutes, have welcomed MinuteDock with open arms.
Growth remains on average between 15 and 20 percent quarter-on-quarter – not bad for a company that only went live less than three years ago.
Despite MinuteDock’s small team including co-founder Wakelin and developer Jared Armstrong and designer Alex Hawkhead, this is a truly global company.
“In the past two years we’ve had only 41 percent of clients from New Zealand. Almost 50 percent are split between Aussie, the UK and the United States. The rest are from a variety of places, including Uruguay, Romania, Germany, Canada and Spain. In total we’ve got customers in more than 25 countries.”
The managers quickly quash any idea they are young (all are well under 30) jetset CEOs, saying the informal word-of-mouth approach suits them better than the corporate schmoozing circuit.
The international uptake of MinuteDock still has its challenges, despite being compatible with a growing number of platforms and accounting software.
“It’s interesting, the international clients all have different needs and requirements. Today we had a Middle Eastern client, they are using right-to-left Arabic language and MinuteDock got a bit confused, so there are roadblocks – but we get through them.”
The co-founder still thinks of his start-up as “a very small fish”, but it’s clear these guys are starting to make some very big moves – and not a minute too soon.