Before he started his company, Chalmers Brown did a lot of freelance software development work and had a tough time finding an invoicing platform that met his needs. “If there was a specific feature we wanted to use in our own business, our options would be to pay for a premium service or see if we could build it internally,” he says. So he built the platform that he needed, allowed some friends to use it, and before he knew it, Due was a business with legs of its own.
A proprietary online payments system that leverages blockchain technology, Due launched in 2014 — a time when Brown says the space was very crowded. So he and his partner, John Rampton, focused on ways they could differentiate their startup. “We wanted to focus on not only being an invoicing solution but a payment solution,” says Brown, who is the company’s CTO. “That drove down our initial pricing structure so that invoicing was free and we would make money off the payment volume. It gave us a competitive advantage.”
Today, he says, there’s still a free tier for invoicing, along with a subscription option that includes unlimited invoicing, project management, time tracking, expense management, and accounting reports. “If you’re a new business, you could still get up and running, invoice your clients, and get paid without spending money on our service,” says Brown. “It’s a limited version, but it’s still enough to get people started, which is something we’d never really want to completely move away from.” Another competitive tactic: Due charges a flat 2.8% fee for payment processing, while the industry standard is 2.9%.
“I think our users appreciate that we not only provide a service, but we’re trying to give them useful information that might be relevant to their business.”
Most of Due’s customers are small businesses, freelancers, agencies, and mom-and-pop shops that are looking for a simple and affordable invoicing and payment solution. “We have a lot of users who were already using other services, and they weren’t 100% satisfied with the experience for one reason or another,” says Brown. “When they’re shopping around for an alternative, that’ll inevitably bring them to us. We do a lot of content marketing, so if you’re looking for an invoicing solution or a payment solution for your small or medium-sized business, it’s pretty hard not to notice us.” Those inbound leads come from the massive amount of content marketing that the company does on its own blog and on a variety of media platforms.
But sometimes inbound leads can be too much of a good thing. Content marketing drives a lot of inquiries from a variety of different industries since Due does not market itself to specific sectors. “Sometimes people need a solution that’s very specific to their industry and there is some component that we don’t offer,” says Brown. “That means we have to spend a lot more time sifting through leads to make sure we’re not turning someone away who can benefit from our service.” Brown says that, in the future, Due may spin off bits of the company to offer “super-specialized services that all fall under one hub.”
It was the combination of content opportunities and networking that first attracted Brown to Forbes Technology Council. He’s been a member since the beginning of 2016 and has contributed more than 30 articles on such diverse topics as IoT for small businesses, best practices for cloud management, protecting IP, and digital virtual assistants, among many others. “I think our users appreciate that we not only provide a service, but we’re trying to give them useful information that might be relevant to their business,” Brown says. Publishing with Forbes Councils, he says, helps position the company as an authentic source of information that customers can trust with their business. “We try to take as much advantage of those [publishing] opportunities as we can because it is vital to our growth as a company.”
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