North Carolina startup to take on Quickbooks

A couple of geeks who live in North Carolina hated using Quickbooks to do their invoices. For one it only worked on IE 6. But they found it much more difficult to use than it needed to be. So, what did they do? Built their own called Merchant’s Mirror (it’s in alpha testing right now, should be released in beta in December).

That’s the entrepreneurial spirit, alive and well. I spent 25 minutes with CEO John Brown learning and head geek Ben Hwang about the market and what their accounting service will do differently (it’s totally web based, for one).

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28 thoughts on “North Carolina startup to take on Quickbooks

  1. I recently took over product development for QuickBooks Online, and we have some exciting plans for QuickBooks Online, so stay tuned!

    It’s always good to have some more competition out there!

  2. I recently took over product development for QuickBooks Online, and we have some exciting plans for QuickBooks Online, so stay tuned!

    It’s always good to have some more competition out there!

  3. Congrats John and Ben, online accounting makes a lot of sense. Welcome to the market.

    Xero is in New Zealand, UK and Australia now.

    Version for the US early next year.

    Robert, love to chat. Rod

  4. Congrats John and Ben, online accounting makes a lot of sense. Welcome to the market.

    Xero is in New Zealand, UK and Australia now.

    Version for the US early next year.

    Robert, love to chat. Rod

  5. Am I the only person who noticed that the comment “For one it [Quickbooks] only worked on IE 6″ is incorrect?

  6. Am I the only person who noticed that the comment “For one it [Quickbooks] only worked on IE 6″ is incorrect?

  7. Scoble, you need to get on the phone to Rod Drury @ Xero.com and arrange a demo. By far the best online accounting package I’ve seen.

  8. Scoble, you need to get on the phone to Rod Drury @ Xero.com and arrange a demo. By far the best online accounting package I’ve seen.

  9. Best of luck to Merchant’s Mirror for their upcoming launch. There are many web-based accounting software out there and I find that each one has their own unique features and characteristics.

    There are many Quickbooks users who will always be loyal to what they are used to, but there might be a few that would be willing to switch :)

  10. Best of luck to Merchant’s Mirror for their upcoming launch. There are many web-based accounting software out there and I find that each one has their own unique features and characteristics.

    There are many Quickbooks users who will always be loyal to what they are used to, but there might be a few that would be willing to switch :)

  11. Oh brother. Anytime anyone uses the verb “killer”, it’s already over, past tense. And in accounting, “anytime, anywhere” is hardly a benefit, and “clean UI’s” are non-starters, complicated rote number-crunching ritals is all part of the environment., a clean cloudish Web 2.0ified interface is obviously missing features and lacking in fundamental architecture.

    Security, procedure, tracking and functionality over “cloud” and “Web 2.0 pastel pretty”.

  12. Oh brother. Anytime anyone uses the verb “killer”, it’s already over, past tense. And in accounting, “anytime, anywhere” is hardly a benefit, and “clean UI’s” are non-starters, complicated rote number-crunching ritals is all part of the environment., a clean cloudish Web 2.0ified interface is obviously missing features and lacking in fundamental architecture.

    Security, procedure, tracking and functionality over “cloud” and “Web 2.0 pastel pretty”.

  13. Ask Microsoft’s Office Accounting how much traction they’ve gotten in the entrenched CPA world.

    Ask me how many clients I have that have Quickbooks online (1) versus Quickbooks desktop (all the rest), mainly due to paranoia as well as other issues like bandwidth.

    More power to ya, but accounting apps are one of the slowest to get changed out.

  14. Ask Microsoft’s Office Accounting how much traction they’ve gotten in the entrenched CPA world.

    Ask me how many clients I have that have Quickbooks online (1) versus Quickbooks desktop (all the rest), mainly due to paranoia as well as other issues like bandwidth.

    More power to ya, but accounting apps are one of the slowest to get changed out.

  15. Hey Rob!

    If you do more startup interviews like this I swear to god I’d dump techcrunch right away. They’re so full of propaganda lately and mike arrington has lost all credibility (if he had one at all) with his biased agenda.

    Pimp your site more like a magazine and start covering startups like in old days.

    You’ll be swimming in cash in no time ;-)

  16. Hey Rob!

    If you do more startup interviews like this I swear to god I’d dump techcrunch right away. They’re so full of propaganda lately and mike arrington has lost all credibility (if he had one at all) with his biased agenda.

    Pimp your site more like a magazine and start covering startups like in old days.

    You’ll be swimming in cash in no time ;-)

  17. Speaking as someone who spends a few hours each quarter cursing Sage’s Jurassic UI and clunky internal structure, this is a very welcome development.

    Speaking as someone who migrated a few domains to Google Apps, I worry about the safety of my data. Not just the security in the obvious sense, but what happens if this company folds, or gets bought, or has a long period of downtime? The Google Apps mail service took a vacation last week (bad enough, but the absence of communication from Google during the outage made matters much worse), I had a chunk of data on Joyent’s Strongspace when that went AWOL for the week…

    With the physical servers I run, of course I’ve hit problems: disk failures, software problems, power outages, but it’s a known quantity: the data is physically sitting in a locked room to which I have the keys. It’s RAID 5 or RAID 6, I have backups – but what do I have with any cloud service?

    (A third party escrow service would go a long way towards addressing these concerns, of course: if all my account data were backed up in, say, a Carbonite or Mozy account in some open or standard format, so I could always access my data whatever happens to Merchant’s Mirror, I’d feel a lot safer. For e-mail, I have every message duplicated from Gmail into MobileMe as well as being downloaded onto my laptop; if Google, Apple AND my own – backed up – laptop disappear simultaneously, I probably have more to worry about than my e-mail.)

  18. Speaking as someone who spends a few hours each quarter cursing Sage’s Jurassic UI and clunky internal structure, this is a very welcome development.

    Speaking as someone who migrated a few domains to Google Apps, I worry about the safety of my data. Not just the security in the obvious sense, but what happens if this company folds, or gets bought, or has a long period of downtime? The Google Apps mail service took a vacation last week (bad enough, but the absence of communication from Google during the outage made matters much worse), I had a chunk of data on Joyent’s Strongspace when that went AWOL for the week…

    With the physical servers I run, of course I’ve hit problems: disk failures, software problems, power outages, but it’s a known quantity: the data is physically sitting in a locked room to which I have the keys. It’s RAID 5 or RAID 6, I have backups – but what do I have with any cloud service?

    (A third party escrow service would go a long way towards addressing these concerns, of course: if all my account data were backed up in, say, a Carbonite or Mozy account in some open or standard format, so I could always access my data whatever happens to Merchant’s Mirror, I’d feel a lot safer. For e-mail, I have every message duplicated from Gmail into MobileMe as well as being downloaded onto my laptop; if Google, Apple AND my own – backed up – laptop disappear simultaneously, I probably have more to worry about than my e-mail.)

  19. @Ron:

    Let me start by saying a big “Thank You!” to Mr. Scoble for his time and consideration of our upcoming release.

    In response to your comment, yes we are very aware of Quickbooks Online Edition. (For anyone who doesn’t know, the QBOE version is actually a rather limited version of the very popular Quickbooks Pro software available in most stores today.)

    Rather than just blasting QB for their Online Edition let me give you some points that I think we excel at when it comes to the comparison.

    1) We don’t require any software to be installed
    2) Merchant’s Mirror works in every major browser on every major platform
    3) The web-based application is our #1 priority, not an add-on service

    It is our #1 goal to continue to integrate the latest in web-enabled technologies into the product to redefine how people view accounting systems… by making it available anytime, anywhere… all while keeping the interface clean and easy-to-use.

    Simply put, we think we can do better and I hope you will take some time to try out our product when it is released and do the comparison for yourself.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  20. @Ron:

    Let me start by saying a big “Thank You!” to Mr. Scoble for his time and consideration of our upcoming release.

    In response to your comment, yes we are very aware of Quickbooks Online Edition. (For anyone who doesn’t know, the QBOE version is actually a rather limited version of the very popular Quickbooks Pro software available in most stores today.)

    Rather than just blasting QB for their Online Edition let me give you some points that I think we excel at when it comes to the comparison.

    1) We don’t require any software to be installed
    2) Merchant’s Mirror works in every major browser on every major platform
    3) The web-based application is our #1 priority, not an add-on service

    It is our #1 goal to continue to integrate the latest in web-enabled technologies into the product to redefine how people view accounting systems… by making it available anytime, anywhere… all while keeping the interface clean and easy-to-use.

    Simply put, we think we can do better and I hope you will take some time to try out our product when it is released and do the comparison for yourself.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  21. We wish the Firelace folks all the best in the world! There’s certainly lots of room for superior invoicing solutions.

    -From online invoicing FreshBooks — sign up for a free account today!

    (and it works in IE 6) :D

  22. We wish the Firelace folks all the best in the world! There’s certainly lots of room for superior invoicing solutions.

    -From online invoicing FreshBooks — sign up for a free account today!

    (and it works in IE 6) :D

  23. As I watched the video, I was wondering whether Brown & Hwang are actually unaware that there is already an online version of Quickbooks and there has been for several years. The advantages of an online accounting package that they described have been available in Quickbooks online for years. It would have been nice if the interviewer had known that, to get them to compare their product to their most important, established competitor. That would have been an apples to apples comparison.

  24. As I watched the video, I was wondering whether Brown & Hwang are actually unaware that there is already an online version of Quickbooks and there has been for several years. The advantages of an online accounting package that they described have been available in Quickbooks online for years. It would have been nice if the interviewer had known that, to get them to compare their product to their most important, established competitor. That would have been an apples to apples comparison.

  25. If they can manage it and come in at under the ridiculous QuickBooks price, especially for those like me who have only a 1099 expense… able to be tracked in a spreadsheet but would like to have something more intuitive, it’s a win.

  26. If they can manage it and come in at under the ridiculous QuickBooks price, especially for those like me who have only a 1099 expense… able to be tracked in a spreadsheet but would like to have something more intuitive, it’s a win.

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