A TINY company is taking on the software giants with an application designed to do everything a small business needs.
Mike Chapman, managing director of Chapman IT in Broadstone, has spent six years developing 1BizApp.
The software offers a host of services including calendars, inventories, task management, invoicing, email, word processing and spreadsheets – with everything potentially accessible by everyone in a company.
Businesses with staff on the road can see where each employee is and what jobs they are working on, while a reporting function makes it easy to tell which projects have yielded the most profit.
Up to three users in any organisation can download the app for free to a desktop, iPad or Android device, with a 1GB storage limit, while further users pay £10 a month per user.
Mr Chapman, 45, grew up in Broadstone and worked at Plessey, taking an MBA at Dorset Business School while he was there.
He went on to spend 20 years working in IT for investment banks including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Barclays, and harboured an ambition to create a rival to the software of the likes of Microsoft and Sage.
“Six years ago, I decided I was going to go for it,” he said.
“I had found a set of tools that would be perfect to do the job. I didn’t think at that point it was going to take five years of development to do it.”
A key feature of the product is that users can still work when there is no internet connection. “It stores data locally that you need and syncs it in the background with our cloud server,” said Mr Chapman.
A Poole marketing company, BeSpoke 4 Business, was a beta tester for the product, generating some revenue for Chapman IT while the software was developed.
Mr Chapman has been friends since pre-school with Steven Tapper of Tapper Funeral Service.
The funeral directors contributed to the development costs of 1BizApp in return for the exclusive local use of a funeral-specific version.
Mr Chapman and colleague Mark Males, who handles the customer support, are aiming to get a lot of people to try the product and recommend it.
Mr Males said: “We didn’t want to charge a lot of money. What we’re aiming to do is have a large user base.”
They have also come up with a commercial incentive for satisfied customers to share their experience.
Anyone who refers a new customer will get a 10 per cent commission from that customer’s spending on the app – and if the new customer recommends someone else, the original referrer will get another five per cent.
Mr Males believes small businesses will be impressed by its features.
“Small companies haven’t got the resources to spend a lot of money on hardware or software but they’re interested in making their businesses work and that’s what we want to do,” he said.
Despite the contributions of his beta-testers, Mr Chapman supported most of its development with his and his wife’s life savings.
“My two children were so small when I started – if I knew they would nearly be teenagers by the time it was ready to launch, I’m not sure I would have sacrificed so much,” he said.
“The trouble is I’m a bit of a perfectionist and there is always another feature I want to add.
“If someone asks ‘Can it…?’, then I have to make sure it does.”