A summary by month of the progress Clear Books has made in its inaugural year: 2008.
June 08 – Clear Books Concept
I was working at Arbuthnot Securities as a research analyst covering small cap stocks listed on AIM. I invited Brendan McLoughlin, an old friend from Farnborough Sixth Form college, to come in for a chat about his company Fubra and go over some of the implications of floating on the stock market.
Later that month I happened to be talking to Brendan’s business partner and also an old friend from college, Paul Maunders, about accounting systems. I had developed a simple web based accounting system based on the accounting principle of double entry (debits and credits). Paul had developed an invoice driven system for his brothers’ construction business, Prospect Glazing. We discussed sharing each other’s code to combine the systems.
Paul and Brendan were in London later that month and invited me out for lunch. I half suspected it might happen but even when it did it surprised me. They suggested I resign from my job immediately, set up a joint venture with Fubra and develop an online accounting system. I knew straight away that I would agree and after ironing out the terms, I did.
The goals were two fold:
- To develop an accounting system which Fubra could use
- To sell the system to small businesses in need of an easy and simple to use web based accounting system
July 08 – Company Formation
Clear Books was incorporated on the 2 July 2008. I was required to work a month’s notice so Clear Books remained largely a mish mash of ideas thrown in with some development work in the evenings and at weekends.
August 08 – Development
Work began in earnest to integrate the two original systems and develop them further.
We outlined ideas and concepts for the Clear Books website design. This was the start of a lot of toing and froing with web design company Do1. It eventually paid off with a clear design we were really pleased with.
September 08 – Test User
Prospect Glazing and Marble Construction became our first full time test users. They helped us ensure that the system worked and catered for the needs of a small business.
October 08 – Web Design
The web design work was finalised and could now be integrated into the system. The design overhaul brought the project on massively. Not only did we have a website that looked good, but the visual elements helped provide a framework for the usability of the site.
November 08 – Charity
A month of intense coding.
Our first charity, passingiton, signed up. We decided to offer Clear Books free to small businesses and charities (subject to usage limits).
December 08 – Beta Launch
Fubra switched from their incumbent accounting system to Clear Books full time. As a result we launched Clear Books in beta to let other organisations sign up and trial the system for free.
The Clear Books blog was set up to provide a help resource for users.
Clear Books in 2009
The concept for Clear Books began taking shape 7 months ago. Amazingly, the development has been underway for just 5 months. A big thank you is owed to Andy, Steve, Matt W, Matt G, Alex, Mark, Joe, Brendan and Paul at Fubra and Ed and Matt at Do1.
In 2008 we achieved our first goal of developing a working accounting system and getting Fubra using it.
In 2009 we will focus on our second goal: the official launch of Clear Books.