Intuit Connect? Turns out I’m into it.
I’m on the VTA chugging along, in search of the right convention center. You see, I used to work near Santa Clara’s, so it comes naturally. And let’s face it, there are a lot of arrows and trails of initiative’s presence leading to and exuding from Great America Pkwy these days. But no, today it is San Jose’s that beckons my attention. So I chug.
The first reaction in mentioning to a couple people that I’m headed to the S.Bay is: ‘why?’. SF has become insular. I am a job seeker amongst other things right now, so the Peninsula is a treasure trove of opportunities. Opportunities I need be exploring. Thus, a monthly venture to Silicon Valley is the goal. It was once a weekday-ly occurrence, and perhaps weekly is as it should be. The (e[vent)ure] of the moment [ok maybe hour]: Quickbooks Connect.
Intuit comes across a very polished enterprise. Prior to the #QBConnect event, my involvement/interaction could be described as ‘by proximity’. I’m most familiar with the company as a practitioner of the leanstartup method-/ideology, a place where Mr. Bill Campbell made a big impact, and like most everyone else, via their TurboTax product. It turns out, there’s more to Intuit than that. Crazy huh? Yes indeed, more than good hair and nice suits was what I took away. In fact, it was clear that Intuit was catering to small businesses and startups at its conference this year. Not just in vernacular, but in their offerings as well (more on that below). I had a bit of a heads up on this point, but nonetheless, it was refreshing to see an enterprise programmed to engage accountants [and their firms] looking longer-game in their pursuit to lead in financial software. Perhaps some #fintech consolidation on the horizon? Why not? Makes sense to do so before the web-versions of many of these financial utilities/products become more and more regulated. I see no reason why a SoFi like product alongside TurboTax would not sum to more than its parts.
Hypothesized acquisition targets aside, the point I’m trying to make is that perhaps startups could use a little more ‘polished enterprise’ these days. All too often there’s outright polarity in the opposite direction, and don’t get me wrong, no one is saying to compromise your culture, ideals, or vision at the expense of the ‘corporate mandate/agenda’ (whatever the hell that is). But maybe, just maybe, you CAN shift more back in the direction of BUSINESS in the business/casual arrangement we’re all so familiar with. With this in mind, CALLING ALL STARTUPS: when larger, more mature companies are making the effort to engage with you (before you write them off as irrelevant to your business, product, or roadmap), take a few minutes to listen. So WHAT IS Intuit doing for startups?
One way Intuit is improving its product offerings for small businesses is by working with partners like Google and American Express. With Google, the two companies announced an ongoing joint integration between Google Calendar and Quickbooks. It may seem small, but the time savings in a ‘billable’ work environment is immensely valuable. Intuit also announced single sign-on for Quickbooks Online through the G-Suite Marketplace, meaning you can access and manage your Quickbooks info thru your Google account. For the person managing your books: godsend. With the American Express partnership, the word is OPEN. As in QuickBooks small-business customers get access to short-term, low-cost financing as an AMEX OPEN Business cardholder/member. This is an appreciable initiative to help startups pay their vendors/debts and free up cash flow. The partnership also includes ReceiptMatch which is fairly self explanatory, but an added bonus in terms of expense management for those that choose to use the Intuit/AMEX integration.
With respect to developers specifically, I think one of Intuit VP’s summed up their position pretty well “Quickbooks Online is the platform of choice because it is the best cloud accounting solution for small businesses, the biggest marketplace for developers, and the best collaboration tool for accountants.” Now admittedly, I cannot vouch for this necessarily being true, perhaps there is still work to be done to achieve all three of those claims, but what does resonate with me is the progress Intuit has made in the continuous pursuit of this goal. Intuit’s three strategic priorities in pursuing [QuickBooks] developer success include: seamless workflow app integrations, decisive investments into the dev experience [#devx], and ensuring there are ample revenue opportunities within their ecosystem. And speaking of cash in hand, Intuit awarded $100K to ‘Share a Refund’ as the winner of its Small Business Showdown, whom I hope uses the money to find a differentiated name.
So what’s in the QuickBooks pipeline? Getting paid [faster]. Intuit prides itself on the fact that small business owners that use QuickBooks get paid twice as fast. They plan to build upon that advantage with integrations/partnerships with ApplePay, PayPal, and a new QuickBooks Online monitoring feature called SmartInvoice. But be it getting paid, saving time, stretching cash, or automating accounting, it’s clear to me that Intuit is definitely putting in the time to help startups in their [financial] journey. And speaking of skills in getting paid, Shaq was one of the keynotes at the conference, and went into some detail about his investment success coming down to only investing in products/services he believes in. After observing Intuit firsthand, I have to say the company would pass that filter for me. And if they keep up the efforts with small businesses and startups, who knows, maybe my October [ad]venture into Silicon Valley could turn into more. 🙂