Kashoo App Boosts Online Business

Cheap mobile apps can drive customers to fee-based online services.

Kashoo App Boosts Online Business | BCBusiness
Kashoo’s accounting app makes it easier to go global – now a 24/7 business, Kashoo has users in 150 countries.

Cheap mobile apps can drive customers to fee-based online services.

The online economy has created many opportunities for small service companies to move into what was traditionally big-company territory. Costs are often much lower, distribution is easier, and by extending a company’s reach from local to global, the web opens up new opportunities and markets. However, traditional business principles don’t necessarily go out the window when a company decides to offer a web-based service. As one Vancouver company discovered, achieving the most important goal – making a profit – requires some quick and creative thinking.

The Problem

Kashoo Inc. is a young and small Vancouver company that three years ago developed online accounting software that was simple and accessible to small businesses. Understanding that it needed to extend its market reach, it moved that software into the cloud, offering it online following the software-as-a-service, or SaaS, model, where users typically pay a monthly or yearly fee for access to the software. While uptake was steady, Kashoo still struggled with one of the biggest problems all small publishers face – how to attract customers and survive as a business in the web world.

The Solution

Kashoo’s solution, instituted earlier this year, was to join the “app economy” – that new world of software applications ushered in by Apple when it launched its iPhone and its App Store, and now augmented by thousands of Android and Google apps. While there is much press about the occasional app developer making millions, the reality is that the app economy has evolved to an environment favouring very low-cost products, and many developers barely survive.

Kashoo’s founders knew that in a climate where a lot of users expected to pay a couple of dollars for an app and little more for using it, it had to rise above the problem of “monetizing” its software. So it decided to employ a hybrid SaaS business model, in which the app would offer basic service on the website for free, but users would pay fees for more advanced services.

Today, Kashoo caters to two streams of users: traditional SaaS users who discover its websites in all the usual ways, such as advertising and search engines, and users who come to the website via the app. And there are a lot of app customers – Kashoo is the top accounting app in the App Store and is also offered in Google’s Chrome store. Once an app user is on the website, he or she can use the basic free service, but is charged for more complex services. About 10 per cent of new users convert to the paid model. Kashoo’s SaaS site rapidly gained 45,000 users, to which between 800 and 1,000 are added weekly.

Further, the app has made it much easier for Kashoo to operate on a more global scale. Unlike most accounting software developers, Kashoo is now a 24/7 business and has users in 150 countries. Another way to ensure profitability was to keep costs down. Kashoo is essentially virtual: its staff of 12 work primarily from home. Also, the company no longer sends delegations to trade shows and doesn’t pay for big marketing campaigns. App development requires very little investment and the time to market is shorter than is usual for software.


Defy conventional marketing. Kashoo’s hybrid model allowed it to break convention and attract two traditionally different groups of users.

Think iteration. Continually change how you market and deliver your product until you find the right customer group.

Stay lean. While revenue is nice, cost containment also matters. Kashoo’s “virtual” model has kept costs low.