How the 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 just go university. So I did drum lessons instead”.
In order to pay for his University fees in Australia, Tim needed to work. So he found himself working in the construction industry, building apartments and commercial buildings around Sydney. Within just 1 year, Tim had up to 14 employees working. He noticed he couldn’t scale the business in construction as much as he wanted. So he ditched his efforts in the construction industry and decided to make a change to the tech start-up world.
The tech start-up venture seemed scalable, had the potential to make a global impact, and so he made the decision to learn how to design and code.
Learning how to code and design from scratch
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.
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 to make 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 had to eventually 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 through out the Google play store, I started receiving praise, 5 star reviews, and feedback for more functions.
Eventually, Tim had to juggle the web design company, design, development for the invoice app, and look after his baby. 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, Tim received an M&A offer from a company in Silicon Valley.
Does he sell? No. After seeing others take interest in his app, Tim goes all out. He started hiring full-time smart creatives and now plans to launch 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.
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.