We’re turning the spotlight on FreshBooks, a TAS commercial resident in our building at 1655 Dupont Street. We chatted with FreshBooks co-founder Levi Cooperman to learn more about the company.
Can you tell us how FreshBooks got started?
Back in 2003, Mike McDerment was running his own web design marketing company out of his home. The way he ran it was pretty manual—he had a shoebox of receipts, some spreadsheets, and he would hand all that off to his accountant. But one day he accidentally overwrote an invoice and realized he had to create a better system. That’s when he paired up with Joe Sawada, and they spent the next year building the first version of FreshBooks. I got involved after that and we launched in 2004, beginning in Mike’s parents’ basement, and eventually growing to the 275 person company we are now, in our office in The Junction.
What’s your primary goal as a business?
The world is really not suited for small businesses; before FreshBooks no one had built software for them. But there are a lot of people out there quitting their jobs to work for themselves or start their own small companies. Our mission is to change the world to suit needs of those people and their teams. Our vision in the near term is a world where self-employed professionals and their teams can successfully run their businesses without having to learn accounting.
What makes FreshBooks different from other accounting software companies?
The interface is curated and designed specifically for a self-employed business owner. We’ve also spent a lot of time and energy on customer service right from the beginning. We put our direct phone number on the website, and if users have a problem they can call and be immediately connected with our 50-60 person customer service team right here in Toronto. There’s no automated system to fumble through, and we also respond to emails very quickly. Last month someone reached out with questions on Twitter, and mentioned they were having a baby. We replied with answers, and also shipped them out a package of supplies to help with their new child. That kind of personal service doesn’t happen at every company.
Tell us about your office space and working style.
Prior to coming here this was a warehouse, so we were able to work with an architect and start from scratch. We designed this workplace with three things in mind: collaboration, connectedness, and collision. Everything is open, with no offices—the only closed rooms are for collaborative meetings, so that helps us spend a lot of time working together. This open design also allows for frequent connection, as everyone can see each other and interact easily. Finally, we designed the kitchen and bathroom spaces in a specific location, so that employees from all different departments will run into each other in the hallway. The office is fairly central, but also away from the hustle of downtown, which is perfect for us.