Sometimes the simplest and most effective apps are ones integrated with another company’s technology, and Method has bet its livelihood on being a customer relationship management (CRM) app for QuickBooks’ accounting software. Today the Toronto-based company is announcing it has raised $3 million in Series A funding from Klass Capital, its first outside investment since launching in 2010 (the founders initially put $3 million into the company). While right now it focuses on QuickBooks integration, the funding will allow it to scale its integrations to include Intaact, Wave, Xero, Freshbooks, and other online accounting platforms.
Method’s CEO and founder Paul Jackson was formerly the founder of QXpress, another company that integrated with QuickBooks, in that case providing field service scheduling software. They sold the company to a competitor and started working on Method, with the goal of providing a fully customizable CRM app for small businesses.
“What we saw with our old product is that customers need more credit for how technical they actually are, even these small businesses,” Jackson said about the inspiration for Method. “We figured if they could do that, they could do a lot more, and why limit that to reports.”
Jackson said the company will use the funding to double in size, going from 25 to 50 employees, and to expand internationally to South America, Europe, and Asia. Right now the company has thousands of users in the U.S. They’re also planning to redesign the platform so it doesn’t just work with QuickBooks, but rather encompasses any online accounting tool for SMBs, which will be key to its expansion.
“With the funding, it opens us up to all small businesses. It’s not just a little link into Xero or Freshbooks, it’s really doing everything we’re doing for QuickBooks with Wave, Freshbooks, and Xero as well, which is syncing everything, and making everything available in the CRM that’s available in the accounting [app],” he said. He added that they are actively working with companies like Wave to get their input on the integration, and while they could potentially launch their own CRM apps down the line, he doesn’t view it as competitive today.
The platform tracks sales, marketing, customer service, and contact data, reminding users to follow up on leads and making it easier to reference client data and track issues. It also provides a customer portal for viewing and paying invoices, with all the data synced to QuickBooks, and vice versa. The drag-and-drop interface lets businesses customize their dashboard, and it also features integration with Google Apps. The SaaS platform charges either $25 or $40 per user per month, depending on the number of features.
Expanding to additional accounting platforms will be the key to standing out vs. competitors, from larger players like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, to startups targeting the SMB market, to social CRM startups like Unifyo and Dynamic Signal that focus on combining customer profiles with their social media presence.
The CRM space isn’t always easy to succeed in, with startups like NetworkHippo shutting down to focus on other projects. Method plans to test out its new apps over the next few months, with a responsive mobile version slated for April, and an official launch of the new platform slated for the summer. It’s also planning to add integrations with marketing platforms like Mailchimp, as well as shopping cart software. The company’s challenge will be switching from “CRM for QuickBooks” to an all-purpose CRM add-on for any online accounting platform, but with a solid base of users and now this new funding, it should be able to scale out in 2013.