88 Miles

The 28th participant is 88 Miles

Founded by Myles Eftos, 88 Miles - is a simple time-tracking application, aimed at the SME market.
Let us explore more about on various facets of 88 Miles from Myles. This is what he has to say:

• How it started?
88 Miles was founded and developed by Myles Eftos. I developed this for my freelance and consulting business because I realised that I couldn't accurately account for his time when working for clients.

• How long it took before it was up and running?
A beta was out within 2 months - the final version was launched after about 6 months.

• What stage of your start-up is, stealth mode, beta mode or fully functional?
88 Miles is fully functional

• What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
To provide a sustainable, un-obtrusive time tracking system that will be useful to other small companies.

• What services it provide for consumers or customers?
Punch-in and Punch facilities, timesheets, reporting, full REST API and integration with Saasu.com a popular Australian-based Invoicing system

• What is unique about your venture?
It is time tracking that I would want to use. As a consultant, I don't need all the flashy Gantt charts or reports - I need to be able to track my time quickly and efficiently and generate a timesheet for my clients. This is all Miles does and it does it well.

• What market segment verticals you are targeting for?
Small to medium design and development firms. I'm also looking at the recruitment industry.

• What type of customers you are targeting?
Basically, anyone who has to deal with per-hour billing. This includes owner-operators and organisations that take on consultants or contractors

• What age group of people will benefit most?
Anyone that is working I guess :)

• How many users are using your services?
I'm currently up to 24 paid accounts totalling 45 users which is breaking even on expenses. I am in the process of ramping up the marketing to get the name out.

• What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
Mainly word of mouth and Google AdWords at the moment. I have started a snail mail campaign - but this is in its early days. Marketing the system is the next big step I need to take to make the venture viable.

• How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are their any special
mechanisms/tools are in place to monitor the progress?
Retention rate of users. Although the current numbers are small, those who have paid are loyal users, and the system has become an essential part of their workflow.

• What is the monetizing/revenue model? Is there any new model, which is being tried?
Revenue is subscription-based.

• Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment?
There are a number of players in this market, the biggest is Harvest. There are some other small sites, such as Togglr, Clicktime and Punchytime, although they all use slightly different ways of tracking. 88 Miles is relatively unique in that it focuses on time clocks, rather than updating time sheets after the fact.

• What are the main technologies used behind this start-up?
88 Miles is built on Ruby on Rails, relying heavily on AJAX, and REST web services

• What has been the easiest to use, out-of-the-box and helpful technology?
Ruby on Rails

• Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
Yes - all of the tools are Open Source.

• What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of
the database you are using?
Currently, the production system runs Solaris

• How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up. Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
Many of the Perth-based users are Australian Web Industry Association (AWIA) members, so I will see them at AWIA meet-ups. If I am interstate, I will try to catch up with other users if possible.

• How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
I've managed to get 88 Miles going from my own pocket, with little money. I obviously have a way to go, but it has cost me less than $5000 so far (not including my time)

• What are the main barriers in general for people to start their venture in Australia?
Cost of hosting and bandwidth locally. You basically have to host in the US to save money. Other than that, there is no reason why an Australian company can't make a financially successful product

• What are your thoughts on the future trends of your service and the market segment you are in?
I consider 88 Miles in the SaaS space, which is going to get huge. I think a lot of companies are realising the benefits of hosted services. This is especially relevant to small business owners who need reliable systems but can't afford the upfront capital hit, and to road warriors who don't want the hassle of syncing data between users.

• Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
Build your system for yourself - that way you will get a feel for what does and doesn't work. You can't expect to build an awesome system if you are a heavy user.

Thanks, Myles for sharing your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you in future on the progress of 88 Miles. All the best for 88Miles and the competition in this carnival.