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Introductions. And a glimpse of the Blinksale 180-day Roadmap

bc black shirt - medium

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Brandon Cotter, and I am the CEO of Doublewide, the team that in May of this year purchased Blinksale from our friends at Firewheel Design (the founders of the site).

Blinksale has been providing simple, small business invoicing tools since 2005 and has tens of thousands of happy customers around the world. It is on this foundation that the Blinksale team began transforming the application into something bigger, bolder—into something that we believe will transform the way you think about managing your company’s finances.

So, first, what have we done since the acquisition?

  • Upgraded the infrastructure, servers, and back-up mechanisms.
  • Put in place a new, and dramatically improved issue management system (yes, we are big fans of FogBugz).
  • Added free phone support.
  • Added a new and improved customer support tracking system (also big fans of Zendesk).
  • Kicked off an extensive planning and vision-setting process that will result in a slew of new things in 2010.

While we are pleased with what we have accomplished so far, we are more excited about what is ahead. We aren’t going to share the whole plan today, but we are going to start revealing a piece at a time, and we invite you to be an active participant in the process.

Each release, starting with the first major new build (slated for late January) will include:

  • UX (interface changes that make Blinksale not just more functional—but also more fun)
  • Bug Fixes (yes, always a few of these)
  • Big & Expected (in-line with other similar online accounting apps)
  • Big & Unexpected (we can’t wait to share more)

I can say that one of the first items in the “Big & Expected” category is time tracking. That, a bunch of fixes, some updated UX elements, and of course, something Big & Unexpected will all be a part of the first major new release next year.

So stay tuned. We will be sharing more in the coming weeks.

Ideas to share? Shoot em to me.

bc  |  214-580-2008  |  (my email is my initials at blinksale.com)  |  twitter: txbc

22 Comments

  • On December 1, 2009, Chris Smith said:

    Brandon,

    I like your writing and links, please keep it up. (I just ordered Maverick thanks to Who are the microbiz gurus, for example)

    Looking forward to Big & Unexpected as well, the ‘whole lifecycle’ scope you’re expanding into sounds interesting.

  • On December 1, 2009, Michael said:

    Looking forward to the time tracking. As a user since 2005, this is one of the things I’ve been waiting for – finally integrating the time tracking with invoice generation. The time tracking service I’ve used since then eventually added invoicing, but I prefer the Blinksale way, so have been holding out.

    And can’t wait to see what else you have in store.

  • On December 1, 2009, chris basey said:

    Great to hear something from the company. I’m excited to see the changes and improvements. I’ve been a customer since 2005 and was growing weary, but I like the sound of the improvements.

    Any chance of PDF invoicing at the silver level, if not then are you going to do anything about the invoice emails – they look terrible

  • On December 2, 2009, Peter Ricci said:

    Good to hear there is finally some movement here. We were just starting to look elsewhere. However, under the hood, your update really does not tell us anything.

    Let’s look at what was said here.

    1. Upgraded the infrastructure, servers, and back-up mechanisms.

    ….. nothing here

    Put in place a new, and dramatically improved issue management system (yes, we are big fans of FogBugz).

    …..nothing here

    Added free phone support.

    … Cool but not necessary for the average user, possibly for 3rd party developers.

    Added a new and improved customer support tracking system (also big fans of Zendesk).

    ….. nothing here

    Kicked off an extensive planning and vision-setting process that will result in a slew of new things in 2010.

    …. nothing here

    So far nothing to get excited about so…..

    Each release, starting with the first major new build (slated for late January) will include:

    UX (interface changes that make Blinksale not just more functional—but also more fun)

    … The system actually works fine, is a little on the slow side, but most of the functionality actually works for the average user. So be careful.

    Bug Fixes (yes, always a few of these)

    … read above

    Big & Expected (in-line with other similar online accounting apps)

    …. nothing here

    Big & Unexpected (we can’t wait to share more)

    …. nothing here

    So, there is some cool stuff you cannot tell us that we should expect and some other cool stuff you cannot tell us we are not expecting.

    Years ago I asked for one thing, the ability to add expenses, like a cool little spreadsheet, we can add expenses for purchases, recurring fees etc. I have asked for this at least 4 times.

    Wonder if that is in the expected or unexpected column. I love the software and I hope the improvements and UX stuff all works well, but mostly I hope for basic expenses as I use different software for this and would like to combine it.

  • On December 2, 2009, bc said:

    Peter, thanks for taking the time to write and I appreciate the frustration behind your comments. Additionally, I am sorry you are not satisfied with the information in my post.

    However, that’s all I am going to say for now. We just don’t know enough yet to promise dates, and more specific release plans.

    I can say that with regard to “Big and Expected”, it includes time tracking, estimating, expense tracking, and flexible reporting.

    I will reveal more over the coming weeks and months, and we will begin releasing some of the new things into the app, and so I hope we can provide reasons for a much more positive post from you :-)

    bc

  • On December 2, 2009, bc said:

    Yes, and Yes.
    Both better looking PDFs and PDFs for Silver.

  • On December 3, 2009, Rodrigo Franco said:

    I would love to have the ability of archive my clients – I’ve a lot of them in my lists.

  • On December 3, 2009, Vicky Eydelberg said:

    Time tracking would be so useful! Also, as you add more features to your gold account, it would be great to see some sort of pdf functionality in your bronze or silver option. There is such a big jump in price for the PDF feature, and as a very small business that is just starting out and doesn’t send that many invoices (yet), it’s tough to justify the gold level given all my other expenses. One idea might be to add Blinksale branding and links to the PDFs of the bronze and silver accounts.

    Keep up the great work, love your product.

  • On December 4, 2009, Steph said:

    Thanks for the updates – I’m a big fan of personal interactions between site operators and users, and I appreciate the communication. Not to mention all the new features! Time tracking is eagerly awaited.

  • On December 7, 2009, Dave C. said:

    My feature requests:
    1. An easier way to make feature requests (uservoice or something like it?)
    2. The ability to attach docs/pdfs to invoices
    3. PDF’s at a lower membership level.
    4. The ability to classify an invoice as “closed” or “absorbed” rather than paid – to reflect the state when funds are unreceivable for one reason or another.

  • On December 7, 2009, Lloyd said:

    Any plans for a native iPhone app. I need this terribly, I am about to leave blinksale for this reason alone, please tell me I should not leave because this app is due any minute.

  • On December 8, 2009, Sean said:

    #1 needed feature is either a web-based or native iPhone app
    #2 time tracking would be nice, but please do #1 no matter what!

  • On December 8, 2009, Lisa said:

    A feature I would love to see is the ability to have the styles inline. I can’t see my beautiful layouts in gmail. If there is a way to do this and I haven’t found it, please, someone respond with an answer!

    Thanks!

  • On December 9, 2009, bc said:

    there isn’t a way currently…but yes, we should add this. I will create the ticket for it now!
    (can’t commit to dates yet, sorry).

    bc

  • On December 9, 2009, bc said:

    Sean, for now, there is invoicie (see yourblinksaleid.invoicie.com). yes, we need our own too.
    re #2, that is higher on the list (both integrating with outside time tracking solutions and our own.

    bc

  • On December 9, 2009, bc said:

    My feature requests:
    1. An easier way to make feature requests (uservoice or something like it?)
    >> ha. this was so easy. you can also email em to us.

    2. The ability to attach docs/pdfs to invoices
    >> yep, good idea. added it to our dev list.

    3. PDF’s at a lower membership level.
    >> ok. will consider it.

    4. The ability to classify an invoice as “closed” or “absorbed” rather than paid – to reflect the state when funds are unreceivable for one reason or another.
    >> yes, good idea. I think this is already on the dev hit list.

  • On December 14, 2009, Cornelius said:

    My request list (in priority order):

    1. More complete HTML/CSS templating for invoicing and thank you notes. (Way, way more important than everything below).
    2. Attach a default hourly rate to each client
    3. Drag and drop item shuffling (re-ordering)
    4. PDF’s for silver plan would be nice.

    I also like the ability to mark an amount as “closed”, not paid.

    I could care less about time tracking, estimating, expense accounting. I don’t believe it’s possible for one app to be able to do all those things simply and in a way that suits my workflow. At the moment I just want Blinksale to remain the best at invoicing. To me that means beautiful, branded emails and invoices, good reporting, and simplicity.

  • On December 17, 2009, Wes said:

    Awesome! I’ve been using for years and wish there were more updates and releases(like Basecamp). You have a good product now, but have the potential for being THE defacto standard for online invoicing(major $$ for you). Whatever you do, please keep it simple and usable. Best of luck, can’t wait to see the new updates!

  • On December 17, 2009, Dom said:

    I would like to see estimation capabilities. Its so important. I personally never start a job without providing a quote/estimation first.

    How does one even join Blinksale without this feature??

    This is the only thing preventing me from joining. Otherwise, the site and templating system is beautiful.

  • On December 17, 2009, Loughlin said:

    Lads,

    Before you do anything sort out the fact that Blinksale crashes the IE7 browser. A security exception pops up as soon as you log in. It’s daft! I like to be able to check Blinksale wherever I am and sometimes I’m in crumby corporate offices that only have IE and the app becomes unusable.

    My company uses Blinksale all the time but the total lack of communication or response to my emails to support@blinksale means I ain’t holding my breath for these changes. I’ll believe them when I see them.

    Loughlin.

  • On December 22, 2009, Lisa Sieverts said:

    I don’t want time tracking — I use other, dedicated applications for that which are integrated into project management (http://liquidplanner.com). What I need are beautiful invoices that I can send my customers, and the ability to add expenses.

  • On December 25, 2009, Chris Basey said:

    a nice time tracking widget for win 7/vista and Mac would be awesome – look at harvest for an example. This would be a huge boon.

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