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Seven Years in the Making: Interview with Jordan Smith of BillingServ

Tags: , , , , , Date/Time: May 26, 2021 @ 12:00 am, by raindog308

BillingServ LogoOur interview series has featured a lot of industry leaders and we continue today by talking with Jordan Smith, founder and director of BillingServ.  He’s also known as @Jord on LowEndTalk where he is a moderator.  Read on to learn about this popular billing solution, security in the SaaS space, and Jord’s hot secretary!

Where in the world do you live?

I was born and raised in sunny Britain.

So in a few short sentences, what is the BillingServ value proposition?

We like to save people time, streamlining their business and simplifying invoicing. No more upgrades or server maintenance. We take care of that for the customer. They simply login, send an invoice and receive payment online.

In December, you launched BillingServ 2.0. Reading the blog post, it appears there was a substantial upgrade to availability and failover. What other changes went into 2.0?

Literally everything, we rebuilt BillingServ v2.0 from the ground up, new code base, new database structure, new deployment method, the lot. We learnt from v1.0 and put that into our newest version. It’s leaner, quicker and provides a better code base to build upon.

Let’s get this out on the table: you’re asking providers to trust a SaaS solution with their customer information, billing relationship, and CRM database security. Why should they trust you and what do you say to those who have security concerns?

We always take security seriously, that is our number one priority, our security systems/policies in place help us keep our client’s data secure. All data is transmitted securely. We’ve built our system to be secure.

A potential customer once told me he wouldn’t use our services, because we were SaaS and outlined the reason why, we would have access to their data. While this is true, we would never access a clients database, unless there is an issue and they’ve allowed us to. He went on to explain he couldn’t move forward and their company doesn’t use SaaS Software.
I then asked one question, do you use online accounting, payment gateways? He said yes. Then you are using SaaS providers who hold all your clients’ data, for accounting, billing and anything else that’s needed to run a business. While we won’t be able to please everyone (and that’s fine) we will certainly fit with anyone who doesn’t want to maintain their servers and upgrading versions.

The word “hosting” doesn’t appear on your home page. Do you envision BillingServ as an industry niche product or are you aiming at a broader (i.e., non-hosting) market?

We started off by just focusing on the hosting sector, v1.0 showed us that more and more sectors wanted to use our service. A big fashion brand reached out to us in the US to ask about using our services. We showed them a demo of v1 and it didn’t quite fit their use case.
I then showed them v2.0 in the rough stages and it was a better fit for them, we needed to change a few parts of our system to make it a perfect service for them. That’s the beauty of BillingServ v2.0 we can make it fit for any sized business in any sector.

I see you have over 1,000 customers. That’s awesome! Is hosting still your bread-and-butter or do you have customers from many industries?

Thank you, we’ve come a long way in the 7 years we’ve been going. Hosting does pay a big role for us, from colo to dedicated servers, to IT Consultancy. Lots of different industries use our services, from recruitment, fashion, freelancers, sporting goods and many more, even the naughty side of things 😉 I always love it when a high risk business reaches out to me, as it’s always something different.

Recently, WHMCS cut off owned licenses, which was met with considerable venom by the hosting community from threads I’ve seen. Do you see this an an opportunity for BillingServ? Are you planning any marketing campaigns to attract WHMCS refugees?

I see this as an opportunity to get our name out there, we have nowhere near the same number of integrations as they do. But we will always work with a provider to make a system fit their needs. We also offer a discount for anyone who moves over from a different system.

If you think about hosting software, there are quite a few free control panels out there. There are no free billing systems that I’m aware of (at least, not those with the sophisticated integrations that products like BillingServ, WHMCS, etc. offer). What is it about billing software that seems to defy commoditization?

It’s a hard system to build, it’s not for the faint hearted that’s for sure, there are so many different things you need to think about all at the same time.

Take Tax for an example, our system can be used in any country in the world, our system has been designed to charge VAT, Sales Tax, GST and more, it can simply charge the correct amount. Now to do that takes a lot of time to code and test. But you adding this feature will most likely break something else.

That’s why I don’t think there is any free billing panels, they need to be constantly tested, new laws coming in so may need changes. Maybe one day will we see one, but for every free billing system I’ve seen they’ve always moved to a paid system.

There’s a mention of “API” in your site’s footer but no page yet. Should we be expecting a BillingServ API in the future?

BillingServ has a full API, it’s all live and can be used right now. But this panda arse is just being lazy as I don’t want to write them and make a page for it. But it’s nearly done.

BillingServ Sexy SecretaryWhat’s your company’s culture like inside?

To ensure efficient development and 24/7, round the clock maintenance, our teammates work remotely from all across the world. My secretary Meg does a great job with keeping everyone’s morale high at work. She is a hottie ;)

ISO-27001 certification is no joke and involves enough paperwork and documentation to fill a small library. What was the process of getting certified like from initial application to final grant?

You’re telling me, from the first meeting with our auditor, he told me we had to completely build our security systems out, you’ve got a couple of months to do that and I’ll be back to audit your systems. It took me months of typing, putting in place policies and testing them. I actually have our first ISMS printed out, no lie there must be over 600 pages.
We have since passed every single audit with flying colours, we’ve put in a great system and it really helps us to maintain security and keeping our customers data safe.

When you’re not revolutionizing customer billing, what do you do with your free time?

Currently I’m trying to get my house renovated so working on that in my free time, when I’m not doing that, I spend time with my partner and help my family out in their fishing tackle shop. Which is always nice as it resets my head because it’s a completely different environment.

How’s life as a LowEndTalk moderator? Do people recognize you on the street, ask you for autographs, etc?

Being a LET mod is always fun, there is always some spam to can and some arguments that need popcorn. Some days I’ve enjoyed it and some days I’ve hated it. Yep, I get recognised all the time :D

Anything else you’d like to say about BillingServ?

We are still at the early stage of development and happy to customize certain aspects of our product, per client’s needs. If you, the reader, want something specific for your business, here’s my direct contact info. If you feel like there’s a specific feature, that we are missing, which would help the mass, please pop in a feature request, or more.

I'm Andrew, techno polymath and long-time LowEndTalk community Moderator. My technical interests include all things Unix, perl, python, shell scripting, and relational database systems. I enjoy writing technical articles here on LowEndBox to help people get more out of their VPSes.

2 Comments

  1. MEG :D

    May 26, 2021 @ 1:43 am | Reply
  2. Great interview and great read, thanks Jordan & Andrew!

    May 26, 2021 @ 11:13 am | Reply

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