Boosting timeXchange

Joe Piekarz wanted us to review timeXchange.com. Below is a quick interview with Joe.

Contact details:

Web 2.0 startup: www.timeXchange.net

Company: ACTUS Technology

Contact: Joe Piekarz

Why is it different than your competitors?

timeXchange.net is a social business network facilitating the interactions of people who work on projects and report time via a timesheet. Our members have roles as workers, managers, administrators, and/or clients. Each person is their own account and they establish permission-based connections with other users to report, approve, or collect time.

So why does the world need this? Aren’t there already a million web-based timesheets out there? How is this any different? The answers are simple. Yes there are a million apps already, but every timesheet application we looked at, hosted or enterprise, has the same limitation; cross-organizational interaction. Let me give you an analogy. Imagine if email was solely an enterprise application (as it once was, remember PROFS) and that you could only send emails to people who were members of the same system you were on. You would have to log into two separate systems to send the same message to people in two separate companies. That is how most timesheet applications work, but that’s not the business reality of how project teams are staffed. For example, I could be a freelance contractor placed on a project by a staffing company at a client who requires timesheet approval on all projects. The client has their system for collecting time. The staffing company has theirs. And I have my own records to keep. In this example I would fill out the same timesheet information 3 times for each task. It’s a waste of time. But if I could enter my time once and route it to all the required parties regardless of organizational affiliation, my life would be easier, less mistakes would be made, and everyone would still get what they need.

One other point I would like to make about the email analogy. timeXchange.net, like email works just as well for small business as it does for large companies. The size of your network in timeX depends on how you do business. If you work in a large IT group and have 5 projects you report to, that is really no different than if you teach piano lessons to 5 kids and send their parents invoices for your time. Timesheets are about tracking and reporting the data that is relevant to the task at hand. There is no real competitive advantage to the way time is tracked or collected. If there were, Excel spreadsheets attached to an email would not be the most popular way to collect time (and it is). The business detail and advantage is in the data, not the application.

What is your business plan?

Our goal is to build the largest network of timesheet-based members and change the way timesheets are done. We want people to use the words “timesheet” and “timeX” interchangeably as in “please get me your timeX so I can pay you”. Our business plan is to offer the basic application and network for free in an ad-supported model. Once we have achieved a certain critical mass, we will role out a subscription-based upgrade for users who want features such as electronic payment of invoices or other b to b business functions. We also have a channel of integration partners who, for a fee, “mash up” or connect our data to other business applications such as project management, vendor management, procurement, HR and financials. As the community grows, so will the features in both the free and premium versions.

We take a great deal of input from our users and make supporting them and their ideas a cornerstone of what we do. As part of our business plan, users are encouraged to think of themselves as setting the direction that we go with the service. For example, later this year we will roll out a version for the legal community that is personalized for lawyers. A user will simply tell us in their profile that they are a lawyer and instead of the label “project” they will see the label “case file”.

It’s all about growing and responding to the needs of members. If we do that well, they will be our best sales channel because they will bring other members into network just because they are using it.

Why did you start this website? How are you planning to market it?

Because I have been in professional services for over 20 years and have yet to see an organization that doesn’t have issues with timesheets. They are the life blood of how projects are managed and how service providers are compensated, but are far to often just a pain. We think there’s a better way and that timeX is the answer because of it’s peer-to-peer and end-user orientations.

Any other information that you believe is relevant to your startup will also be helpful.

We are not backed by VC money and have been funded by owners and friends. We are not actively seeking an influx of funding, but are aware that growth and the wants of our members could make that an issue.

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