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We interviewed Taylor back in 2014 as one of our first in our People Who Rock the Web series. Since they he’s launched another company and we got the chance to chat with Taylor again about his latest venture: Fetch. A simplified expense report tracker for small businesses. Get to know more about where the idea originated, what Taylor has learned over the years, and other tips for budding entrepreneurs.
How the idea for Fetch come about?
Fetch was a dream a long time in the making that was inspired by the people Shoeboxed serves and the problems we address with our core product. Fetch was conceived when customers asked Shoeboxed to build an expense reporting solution that wasn’t as complicated or expensive as other tools on the market. While Shoeboxed serves as a state of the art receipt and business card digitization service, it was never meant to be a full-service expense reporting tool. We built Fetch to be the easiest way for employees to submit expenses and admins to pay them back. I believe we’ve accomplished just that and our team is extremely excited to put Fetch in the public’s hands.
Video: Fetch Overview
Watch this quick one-minute video to see an overview of how Fetch works.
What makes Fetch unique from other expense report trackers?
In addition to Fetch’s incredibly simplistic design, people will also notice that Fetch doesn’t require users to make actual “expense reports.” Expenses in Fetch are tracked on a per receipt basis and then batched for approval. The per receipt method is conducive to teams with less than 100 employees and promotes a much quicker reimbursement process. Fetch also has a native mileage tracking feature which many other expense reporting services do not incorporate into their core apps. In addition to the design and technology, Fetch also sets itself apart by offering the same level of personal customer support that Shoeboxed customers have come to know and love. You can always pick up the phone and talk to a member of our team. You’ll never need an enterprise level plan to receive premium support.
Any tips for small businesses on how to track expenses?
The first thing I always recommend to small business owners is to digitize everything. This is especially true of company expenses and expenses submitted by employees for reimbursement. You can have an office manager scan receipts manually or use a free mobile scanning app. Paper receipts get lost, documents stored in the cloud don’t. It is always better to have digital copies to protect yourself in the case of an audit.
My second tip is to explicitly define expense reporting policies and expectations with every member of your team. Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than not knowing if they can expense something or worse, being told they’re not being reimbursed for a submitted expense. I suggest typing your expense policies in a Google Doc and sharing it with your team to access at any time.
I also suggest that you automate as much as you can. Even if this means buying a scanner for employees to use to scan receipts rather than stapling them to an excel sheet, it could be worth it. There is always a tipping point where paying for a solution to do the heavy lifting is more cost effective than doing it yourself. Sifting through receipts and excel spreadsheets and cutting checks to your team adds up when you consider the time/compensation ratio. Regardless of whether you choose to automate or not, it’s always important to understand what your time and your employee’s time is actually worth.
What challenges have you faced and what have you learned from them?
One of the biggest challenges for me personally has been preventing burnout. Startup culture requires founders to remain extremely flexible which often means taking on more than you might be prepared for. A great way I’ve found to overcome this is to be brutally honest with myself when prioritizing things inside and outside of work. If something, such as a life event, has a priority, I’ve taught myself that it’s alright to say no to something that falls lower on my priority list.
Another challenge I’ve faced is having to push through minor setbacks. Not letting yourself and your team get bogged down with small details and minor setbacks is a key to sustained success. Keeping an eye on the bigger picture (and knowing what the bigger picture is) is difficult at first, but it’s an acquired skill that is definitely fine-tuned with time.
What’s it like in the startup world in Durham?
Durham has become a hotbed for startups across virtually all industries. Tech is still one of the most dominant industries here, and media outlets like The Atlantic and Mashable have even started calling Raleigh-Durham a “different kind of Silicon Valley” and “the next Silicon Valley.”
Durham in 2017 is very different than the one I knew when I was an undergraduate at Duke University. The influx of new businesses in the area is breathtaking. To put the scale of growth in perspective, there are currently more than 300 startups in downtown Durham alone which is less than one geographic square mile. Technology hubs like The American Underground, where Fetch is located, have helped fuel Durham’s growth by giving early-stage startups affordable office space and other resources they need to succeed.
Even in light of its quick growth, Durham has stayed close to its roots. Companies in the area have accessible pools of talent from large, local universities in the area like Duke, NC State, NC Central & UNC Chapel-Hill. The growth has also not overlooked the importance of keeping companies diverse. Durham startups boast some of the most diverse teams in the country which The Atlantic covered last year.
We love Durham and are happy to call it home for Shoeboxed and Fetch.
How do you stay current with the latest trends?
Inc., Fast Company, and Wired are my daily go-to’s. I also consume most of my current events from Google News, which I think is a great news aggregator. I really enjoy reading old fashioned print magazines as well. I usually read them for at least half an hour before bed each night. I tend to gravitate towards science magazines like Scientific American and Discover.
What do you like to do for fun?
I adopted a puppy a few weeks ago and she is currently occupying a lot of my spare time. Her name is Riley and she’s a border collie & lab mix. She is a sweetheart but has a knack for tearing up socks. We’re working on it 😉
Aside from training Riley, I enjoy building things. To be more specific, I really like putting my engineering degree to work and constructing automated machines. A few years ago, I built a Rube Goldberg for the Shoeboxed office that launched hamster exercise balls down a track each time a new customer signed up. Recently, I built a computer controlled light display in the shape of North Carolina which was setup during the Moogfest festival in Downtown Durham.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years you’ll find me building something I love. Whether that’s a business, a side project or something more unconventional, I’ll be building.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Please don’t wait for a tax audit to start properly tracking your business expenses and getting your books in order. It happens all too often that we have business owners come to Shoeboxed asking us to scan a year’s worth of documents because they just received an audit notice. Fortunately, Shoeboxed is able to help these people out, but it’s much more efficient and less stressful to do it right from the get-go.
On the subject of bookkeeping, I am a huge fan of Bench.co. They have a great team of bookkeeping professionals right here in the U.S. who will prepare your financial statements at a very reasonable price.
Thanks (again) Taylor for taking the time to share your insights with us! Very wise beyond your years and couldn’t agree more with all your advice.