Interview: How FreshBooks And Mike McDerment Created It’s Own Product Category (And Then Dominated It)

From the FreshBooks website:

“The FreshBooks story begins back in January 2003, when Mike was running a four person design agency.

When it came to billing clients, Word was frustrating to use and wasn’t built to create good looking invoices. Then one day something happened that makes every record-keeper cringe: he accidentally saved over an old invoice. Knowing there had to be a better way, he created it himself. Over the next two weeks he coded up a solution that became the foundation of what is now FreshBooks.

The road hasn’t been easy. It took over a year to bring the product to market. After 24 months, there were only 10 paying customers and revenues of $99 per month.

The company moved into Mike’s parents’ basement and for the next 3.5 years, despite all the evidence pointing to failure, they carried on. Why? They discovered a passion for serving our customers, our company and working together.

Since these humble beginnings, over 5 million people have used FreshBooks to send, receive, print and pay invoices.”

Here’s part of the story of how that happened . . .

  • Hey, Love your interviews, but could you make it possible for us to stop the video…I cannot always watch it all in one time. so I have to shut it down. Hope you do it.

    • you can pause the video. just click on clay’s face (or the video itself) and it will pause for you 🙂

    • Yeah, if you just click on the video it will pause. We went with a very minimalistic design. Hope that’s OK.

  • Rani Meiki

    being an entrepreneur is having the gut feeling for the next big thing and the unstoppable dedication to do it.
    such a great interview, thanks for the great materials.

  • Colin Hirdman

    Clay, another great interview! Really appreciate the thought provoking questions, especially the ones that delve deep and get into specifics. Maybe I missed it, but I’d love to know how the entrepreneurs came up with the names for their businesses, as there are generally interesting, and humorous, replies to this question. Again, great job!

    • Thanks, Colin. I’ll be sure to ask that question next time.

  • Great interview Clay.
    I bet you’ll never question the Tech status of Toronto again 🙂

    • Seriously :-). I laughed out loud reading your comment, BTW. Glad you liked the interview.

  • Another great, non fluff interview Clay. Thank you! You refer to something vital to starting a business – especially online – to know if you are a product or marketing person. (Is it the product or a vision you have, that ‘rings your bells’ or is it the processes of the doing stuff; measuring stuff, that ‘rings your bells’.) Knowing this helps a person choose a direction that will fire them along automagically.

  • Jesse

    Is there an mp3 download link of the audio from this interview? would love to download these interviews and listen while I make breakfast (BLT for breakfast!) using my headphones

    also btw Clay, what are are using for this awesome comment-submit form? with the expands, simplicity, etc

    • Hi Jesse! Unfortunately, we don’t provide MP3 downloads right now. But you can play this directly from our YouTube channel while you’re making breakfast.

  • Will

    Hey Clay I think what this guy is selling would be great additions to LeadPlayer… check it out (especially the FB comments built into the player skin)

  • Barbara

    Great interview! Thank you both for the “real deal” behind your business successes! There’s nothing “mysterious” (as platitudes seem to indicate). Really liked the info about the exponential growth and your continued efforts to grow in what you do.

  • Antonio

    Excellent interview! I’m a paid user of Freshbooks it helps me stay afloat with my own consulting business while I’m growing my own problem solving technology company. Love to see that the growth process is about the same for everyone and there’s success ahead