KashFlow founder Duane Jackson shook up the accounting software business when he launched his innovative company in 2006.
In a revealing interview with Business Report Duane explains his motivations and ambitions that have got him past his early obstacles.
Few people with Duane’s background manage to turn their lives around in such spectacular fashion, but after experiencing extreme hardship in his childhood Duane’s life could have taken a turn for the worse if it hadn’t been for a spell in a US prison, giving him time to reflect on his life.
Duane said: “I didn’t have the best start in life and from a young age was passed from care home to care home until I eventually got in with a bad crowd and ended up in a US prison.
“There are not many times in life you can hit the pause button and reflect on your life so far, but that’s what prison did.”
“While I was inside I saw other prisoners with photos of their wives and children pinned to their walls and realised something had to change.
“When I got out my wife soon fell pregnant, I did not want my child to be another photo pinned up in a prison cell.
“Despite my willingness to seek a professional career there were few opportunities for an ex convict so I decided to start my own one man web developer business.”
Working as a freelance web developer, Duane spotted an gap in the market to provide an easy to use accountancy package that doesn’t require a degree to learn and can be picked up quickly.
In 2006 Kashflow was formed and with the help of the Prince’s Trust the business was given the essential financial backing and knowledge to help him establish his start up ready for future success.
“The Prince’s Trust was an important part of our business growth not just financially but mentoring support. This year we intend to put something back by offering Prince’s Trust companies access to Kashflow with a percentage of each sale going back into the Trust.”
For KashFlow’s 20,000 army of enthusiastic users they appear to be an overnight success, the reality however couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Initially we gave our software free of charge to our first users in exchange for feedback, after this I marketed the business mainly through networking and selling them one by one.
“It took more than five years of working this way and organically growing the business to the place we are today.”
Despite being a London based business, Kashflow has some of its early roots in the Black Country. Alpha Business Services, a Dudley based accountancy firm, were instrumental in helping advise on the application and even Duane’s first customer was a Wolverhampton record shop.
Lord Young is among those people that have inspired Duanne to successfully grow the business to its current acclaim after meeting him through his work with the Prince’s Trust and the incubation centre he used to work from.
Another important step in the success of KashFlow was their decision in 2009 to move the business from its home in Basildon, Essex to London.
“Being in the city enabled us to draw upon a larger talent pool of people and being close to some of our major partners such as PayPal meant we could meet key contacts without having to wait for three meetings to come on the same day to be able to justify the day out of the office.”
Today the business employs over30 people and is one of the fastest growing businesses in its sector, with 100% growth year on year over the past few years.
Despite being an accomplished web developer Duane leaves most of the programming to his team but still remains very much hands on.
Other growth plans include rolling out an updated API (application programming interface) giving opportunities for other developers.
“We have a number of success stories working with API partners including Capsule CRM and more recently GoCardless who chose Kashflow as their launch partner.”
“Initially we made the mistake of charging for API access but we realised that this was a barrier to making it work.
“API’s are a great way of adding value to the user experience. Both parties benefit, users get more functionality and the API partner get to access more potential clients.”
Kashflow now plan to build on their early success by investing further in their website and improve the functionality of their applications on mobile devices.
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Company KashFlow (Software) Limited
Website KashFlow (Software) Limited
KashFlow Software Limited is a privately owned company based in London, England. We provide online accounting software for small businesses owners - the emphasis always being on ease of use, automation and integration. We?re widely regarded as a pioneer of the SaaS business model and as the leader in web-based accounting.