How a self taught developer blessed 179 countries from a cafe – Bookipi origin story

How founder Tim Lee started Bookipi

Growing up, he had shown signs of talent in tech, but Tim had never worked in the digital, tech industry.

“I wanted to go to coding school when I was a kid, but the teacher stopped me, and said to go to university. So, I signed up for drum lessons instead”.

Tim did end up listening to his teacher and enrolled himself in a university in Australia to study actuarial science (he’d heard this was the hardest course).

To pay for his university fees in Australia, Tim needed work. So, he found himself working in the construction industry, building apartments and commercial buildings around Sydney. Within just 1 year of starting his own business, Tim had up to 14 employees working for him. After a while, he began to notice he couldn’t scale the business in construction as much as he wanted. So, he ditched his efforts in the construction industry and took a risk when he decided to try his luck in the tech start-up world.

In Tim’s mind, the tech start-up venture seemed scalable and had the potential to make a global impact. That was when he made the decision to learn how to design and code.

Learning how to code and design from scratch

With his newborn baby in his arms, Tim crammed in 10 years worth of studying into just 1 year before he started building digital products. He learned it all – website design/development, web applications, and mobile applications. Over a short time, he learned  Javascript, PHP, Node.js, AngularJS, React Native, HTML, CSS, MongoDB, and MySQL. He had the ability to now design, and develop applications for Windows and macOS with Electron, iOS, and Android. All of these skills, he taught himself.

I woke up at 10, studied until 3am every day until I could develop something.

Failures along the way

It took Tim 4 tech start-up business failures over the 2 years before he landed at InvoiceBee, the simple invoice generation app.

After each failure, he picked himself up immediately and started a new venture. Failure never bothered him. He knew he would find the right idea at some point.

Tim decides to build an invoice generator app (Bookipi) to help his own business


It’s funny. Every other product before this had a clear intention of making money. Lot’s of money.  He had a great vision, read many books, and was ready to build an empire, yet not one of them made a dollar.

Tim was forced to do the one businesses he didn’t want to do, a ‘web design and development business’. When he started to take in clients, he needed to send invoices. He jumped on the App Store and found some invoice generator apps.

I saw some complex invoice generation apps in the app store, so I thought, why don’t I build a simple one that I need?

So Tim got to work, and built an MVP (minimum viable product) and launched it on the Google Play store in July 2016 for himself.

Within a month, word of mouth spread throughout the Google play store. I started receiving praise, 5 star reviews, and feedback for more functions.


Tech support, designing, coding, marketing, and looking after the baby.

It got to the point where Tim was juggling the web design company, design and development for the invoice app, and look after his baby.

Success finally arrives

A year later Invoice Bee hit over 60,000 businesses all around the world. The app was now available on iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS. The first few hundred dollar bills started to roll in, a month after the app was monetised. It was then that Tim received an M&A offer from a company in Silicon Valley.

Did he decide to sell? No.

After seeing others take interest in his app, Tim went all out. He started hiring full-time smart creatives and now plans on launching a full set of products for small businesses to run their businesses more efficiently. A complete bookkeeping package that will help support millions of businesses is just one part of his plan for the future.

On average, 150 users register every day.

The vision

Before Tim hired his first employee, InvoiceBee got over 150 new registered businesses a day, and today the app supports over 120,000 businesses in 179 countries around the world. The app is also translated into 12 different languages.

Seeing Tim’s business running on its own, a close friend once said to Tim, “You don’t have to work a day in your life any more. Why are you still working?”

That’s true.. But I feel the responsibility to help people. Not just through the app, but financially help others. If I don’t scale the business today I won’t be able to make an impact for them.

Small business online tools for everyone

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