This episode is sponsored by BQE Software and was recorded via Facebook Live on June 14th. David and Blake interview BQE Founder and CEO Shafat Qazi, who then gives us a demo of BQE Core, a cloud-based solution that offers integrated accounting, project management, and business intelligence designed specifically with professional services firms in mind. It’s a little hard to picture the demo without a visual, but even if you don’t listen to the full demo, be sure to skip to around the 43 minute mark. That’s when Shafat gives us a preview of Core Intelligence, BQE’s new AI-powered voice assistant. If you’re going to the Scaling New Heights conference, you can try out Core Intelligence for yourself at BQE’s Booth 64.
- 00:58 - Welcome to the Cloud Accounting Podcast!
- 02:04 - Background on Shafat Qazi and BQE Software
- 13:11 - Background on BQE Core
- 25:25 - Live demo of BQE Core
- 34:31 - Demo of BQE Business Intelligence
- 44:23 - Demo of Core Intelligence
- 56:21 - Visit BQE and see Core Intelligence in action at Booth 64 at Scaling New Heights
- 57:48 - Learn more about BQE Core at bqe.com
Connect with Shafat
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Shafat
Get in Touch
Blake Oliver: This episode is sponsored by BQE Software and was recorded via Facebook Live on June 14th. David and I interviewed BQE founder and CEO, Shafat Qazi, who then gives us a demo of BQE CORE, a cloud-based solution that offers integrated accounting, project management, and business intelligence, designed specifically with professional-services firms in mind.
It's a little hard to picture the demo without a visual, but even if you don't listen to the full demo, be sure to skip [00:00:30] to around the 43-minute mark. That's when Shafat gives us a preview of CORE Intelligence, BQE's new AI-powered voice assistant. If you're going to Scaling New Heights, you can try out CORE Intelligence for yourself at BQE's booth - 64. To get notified of future Facebook Live episodes, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/cloudaccountingpodcast.
Blake Oliver: Welcome [00:01:00] to The Cloud Accounting Podcast Facebook Live bonus episode. I'm Blake Oliver-
David Leary: And David Leary.
Blake Oliver: Today's guest is Shafat Qazi. Did I get that right, Shafat?
Shafat Qazi: Yes, you did. Perfect.
Blake Oliver: I did? Yes! It's amazing. You are the CEO at BQE Software, and you're here to give us a demo of your newest product - BQE CORE - and a sneak preview of the newest feature, CORE Intelligence. Thank you so much for being here today.
Shafat Qazi: Well, thank you, Blake, and thank you, David. We have been working very hard for [00:01:30] this day, and I'm really super-excited to show you CORE Intelligence. Actually, a lot of people don't even know about CORE, so, we're kind of going to show them a little bit of CORE, also, as a part of the demo.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, this is a big learning day for me, because I am new to this. David, I think you got a little bit of housekeeping first.
David Leary: Yeah, I do have some housekeeping. For those of you that are on the Facebook Live feed, please use the comments there to ask any questions, and Blake, and I will get to those before the hour's up. For those of you that are listening after the fact, hopefully Blake and I will be good at describing what we [00:02:00] see on the screen along the way. The good news is a lot of what Shafat's gonna show us today is audio, so you'll be able to hear some of the amazing technologies.
Blake Oliver: That's great. Yeah, so just a reminder, Shafat, we take the audio from the Facebook Live, and we post it up on The Cloud Accounting Podcast. As you are demonstrating, narrate along - it's helpful - and David and I will interject if we need to, as well, to make it clear to the listeners.
Shafat Qazi: Wonderful. I will do that. That's a good idea to extract audio, and post it as a podcast, so I'll keep that in mind.
Blake Oliver: We had [00:02:30] some questions first, right?
David Leary: Yeah, so, I think I would like to learn a little bit about Shafat. How'd you get here? What's your background in the accounting industry? What's BQE Software? And we'll go from there.
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, absolutely. I love to tell my story. David, you, and me have talked at Intuit. Blake, I have not had an opportunity to exchange my story with you [cross talk]
David Leary: You're both in LA. You guys should hang out occasionally.
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, absolutely-
Blake Oliver: Oh, really? Where are you based in LA?
Shafat Qazi: We are in Torrance, California, not too [00:03:00] far from where you are.
Blake Oliver: I'm in Encino, so, in some ways, we might as well be on opposite ends of the country, but ...
Shafat Qazi: Yes. LAX is the exit, so, yes, we're on either side of LAX. BQE Software has been in business for 20 years. We started with a product which I wrote in my garage, about 20 years ago, called BillQuick. It was initially designed as a time-billing application, and it really [00:03:30] got received really well by professional-service firms.
Just so that you know, in my background, I have a master's in engineering. I ran my structural-engineering firm in California for eight years, and also was very strong in computer programming. I knew close to 40 programming languages and was very passionate about making a difference. As a young entrepreneur, I was also chairing a committee, at a [00:04:00] national level, called Computer Applications Committee, and this was before the days of internet. Sorry, I am old ... That's when we came up with the idea about we need to make transformation to the businesses, and automate their time capture, and billing process.
I wrote BillQuick 1.0 in my garage back in 1995; released it in 1996. It's been very successful ever since we started literally in an attic - about [00:04:30] 180 square feet to 200 square feet space. Today, we occupy over 40,000 square feet of space; 230 employees; offices worldwide. That product from the garage has grown to become a real significant company. It's making a difference in the hundreds of thousands of people's lives. That's the back story. Now fast forward, and this is where it gets really interesting. Fast forward 2011-2012, the [00:05:00] world believed that, because Steve Jobs told us so, that the world's going to run through apps. We are going to have these one-trick ponies that are going to do these tricks for us. We're going to have an app for expenses; we're going to have apps for time sheet; we'll have an app for travel. That's how we're gonna run our life.
Business has started kind of going around that line and trying to put the apps ... We integrated our apps with [00:05:30] QuickBooks and other products. We saw a frustration among our customers in terms of where the digital plumbing between the apps was not really working. The cost of ownership was becoming a concern. They were paying us 25 bucks a month; they were paying QuickBooks 30 bucks a month. Before you know it, it was $150-$200 a month. That's when I came up with the idea. I said we gotta come in with this, really, one product - kind [00:06:00] of a mini RP system. Full 360 degrees that covers the core functionalities of a business.
Then, for the one-off functionalities, that's not necessarily something you do on a day in, and day out. It's okay to integrate, and have APIs, and allow apps to integrate and build an ecosystem. That's back in 2012. We started building CORE, and we started with 50 employees that were working on CORE. Towards [00:06:30] the end of the product life cycle, development life cycle, there were over 100 people working full time on this product. Took us five years to build this groundbreaking product. Everything in this product was built, ground up, with the latest and the greatest technology. We were looking forward to 2025-2030 and building the product for future not for past. So-
David Leary: Instead of trying to migrate your desktop product from before to the cloud, you did a full-blown rewrite; started from scratch. [00:07:00]
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely. We took the 20 years- at that point, 15 years of experience of the domain, which, our domain, by the way, is professional services ... By professional services, I'll cover that in my presentation when I do the demo. It's a very big domain. We had the expertise, and we had learned over 15 years what works and what doesn't work. We said if we were given one more chance, how would we write this- rewrite this product?
That's where CORE came in, with mobile first. Tremendous [00:07:30] amount of built-in capabilities of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other features that we believe are going to be very important for businesses, such as cloud feeds, bank feeds, credit-card feeds, real-time reconciliation, and things like that. CORE was released in July of 2017; July 19th, as a matter of fact. Second birthday coming up-
David Leary: Right. Two years ago now.
Shafat Qazi: Yes. Here's [00:08:00] something that I did that's really amazing, and kind of gutsy in a way. I made a decision about a year and a half before CORE was gonna get released that the day we released CORE, we're going to stop selling BillQuick, ArchiOffice, EngineerOffice, Web Suite, BillQuick Online, ArchiOffice Online. We had six products that we were selling at that point. I said that, on July 19th, we will stop selling new logos, or after new logos, we'll stop [00:08:30] selling the desktop product, and the other products that we had.
David Leary: Just to make sure I'm hearing you correctly on this, this would be like Intuit, as soon as QuickBooks Online came out, saying, "We will never sell QuickBooks Desktop again."
Shafat Qazi: Exactly.
David Leary: That's what you did with your company.
Shafat Qazi: Exactly.
David Leary: Wow. Takes a lotta courage.
Blake Oliver: That's a super-gutsy move.
Shafat Qazi: It is.
Blake Oliver: Were you worried?
Shafat Qazi: I was actually being pressured a lot by my own management team and board saying, "What the hell are you doing?"
Blake Oliver: Yeah, yeah.
Shafat Qazi: "Let's have a six-month transition period ..." The whole concept there [00:09:00] was that if I didn't put all my bets on this product, then I am putting doubt in my belief in this beautiful product that I built, ground up, that I know is superior as in engineering terms, in terms of UI, UX ... Every aspect of this product is significantly more advanced than anything I had ever seen before, or anybody had ever seen before.
Here's an interesting thing you would want to hear. I did my spreadsheets, and projection models, and everything; in my spreadsheets, I [00:09:30] was predicting by March of 2018, which is approximately eight-nine months down the road, the sales of CORE would exceed the combined sales of the six product that I was turning off.
To my pleasant surprise, in November of 2017, only four months from the day I launched the product, CORE sales started exceeding the combined sales of BillQuick, ArchiOffice, EngineerOffice, Web Suite, BillQuick Online, and ArchiOffice Online, and EngineerOffice. All [00:10:00] of these products combined were making less money than what CORE made in November. Since then, it's obviously going through a hyper-growth. We are just loving this phase of our company.
To make it even more sweeter, some of the features that we could not release back in July, because we just want to be the minimum ... Now, we're releasing CORE Intelligence next week. You guys are the ones that are going to get actually one of the first public preview of CORE Intelligence [cross talk] Exactly. So, [00:10:30] super-excited about where we are as a company, as a stage [inaudible] company.
Blake Oliver: That's really exciting; really gusty- gutsy, I should say, and amazing. Maybe Intuit should take a page out of your playbook.
Shafat Qazi: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. Intuit actually should, and I have to say that QuickBooks Online is far more better than it was a few years ago. Absolutely good time for them to completely pull the plug on no new subscriptions [00:11:00] on QuickBooks Desktop.
Blake Oliver: Can somebody use BQE CORE for everything, and they don't have to use QuickBooks?
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, they can. Absolutely, they can. As a matter of fact, if you are in professional services, you are better off using CORE for everything. At the same time, we do understand that there are sometimes reasons why you may not want to let go QuickBooks, or Xero, or for that reason, AccountRight in [00:11:30] Australia - the ones that we integrate with. That's why we integrate with them seamlessly so that you can keep them as your GL, and use CORE for your time tracking, project management, project accounting, and other functionalities that are critical for your business.
David Leary: You built a GL into BQE CORE, but if I'm understanding correctly, you had a GL before, in your old product, as well, so it's not like this is something new for you, to build in a GL.
Shafat Qazi: True. So that you know, David, we [00:12:00] don't necessarily- we didn't think of it as a GL. One of the things that CORE does really well is DCAA compliance. This is essential for a government contractor. Also, the professional services that we deal with, primarily architects, and engineers, and IT consultants, and business consultants, they are extremely driven by projects.
Project accounting is a critical aspect of their day-to-day business management. They look at a [00:12:30] project as a profit center by itself, so, profit and loss by project is important for them. CORE, you can do that. It's a lot more advanced than what you would see in Xero, or QuickBooks in terms of allowing people to have that P&L by project, and rewarding their project managers, and converting their project managers into business managers; tying their bonuses and things like that to the success of the project, financially.
David Leary: It sounds like, in a way, this is a niche app.
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's [00:13:00] professional services. Nothing else. If somebody from manufacturing, or retail would call us, we would send them to Intuit, or Xero.
David Leary: Another product. Cool. I didn't have any other introduction questions. I think we have a good concept of what you're gonna possibly show us. We could jump in the demo, unless, Blake, you have anything else?
Blake Oliver: No, I'd love to see the product.
Shafat Qazi: What I'm going to do is tell you a little bit about BQE. Of course, some of it got answered, so I'll just not repeat, but there are a few things in the slide that are new.
David Leary: This is a slide [00:13:30] deck?
Shafat Qazi: It is a slide deck [cross talk]
David Leary: -afterwards, if you get this to us, we can get this into the show notes.
Shafat Qazi: Wonderful.
David Leary: If not, if you're listening to the audio, you could always jump in on the Facebook Live, and view the slide deck there, as well.
Shafat Qazi: Wonderful, wonderful. Yes. Yes, please jump into Facebook Live because I'm going to also demo CORE. That part is not a slide deck. That's more like a live video. You'll have to watch that. Real quick, for those of you who don't know about BQE, this is a [00:14:00] few months ago update on the employee count. We have offices in Australia, India, USA. Worldwide, we're 216. As a matter of fact, today, we're 230, and we're predicting to be 400 employee by this time next year, based on the hyper growth that I mentioned earlier that CORE is experiencing.
We are extremely well-rated in terms of by our employees, and our [00:14:30] customers. As a matter of fact, BQE got named as Inc. Magazine's one of the best places to work for 2019. I'm honored also that I was rated as among the top 50 CEOs in USA, by Comparably, which then published that in USA Today. That happened in December. Those of you who know us from BillQuick, that was really when we set the seed. I [00:15:00] believe it was my laboratory to build the real tree, which is CORE, that I actually gathered all the knowledge from all these products over the years. The hundreds and thousands of customers that drew the innovation, that really led CORE for us. Obviously, that is the product.
I also talked about five years of development. We spent a lot of money, and a lot of resources on building CORE from 2012, all the way down to 2017, [00:15:30] when we released it. We actually announced it in a bigger way on October 30, 2017, at our BQE Succeed user conference in Vegas. As I was telling Blake, CORE is a full 360-degree surround sound from time, and expense tracking, project management, account receivable, and billing, project accounting, which is little more than GL. We also have scheduling, [00:16:00] workflow, accounts payable, document management, human-resource management - that's out in beta, right now; it's scheduled to be released publicly on July 17th. Coming this year is CORE AI, CORE Payroll, and CORE CRM - three amazing and big launches are coming out this year.
David Leary: This is your payroll product. It's not somebody else's integrated in like an add on. This is you're building a payroll product, as well.
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, yes. We [00:16:30] have been working on it for years, and we didn't release it [with release one]. We wanted to make sure all the T's were crossed, and I's were dotted. We're hoping that we will get US Payroll out this year, and then next year, we'll go Canada and Australia [cross talk]
David Leary: -your desktop world, you had a bunch of separate products. Are any of these modules that you just had on the previous slide ... Are you going to sell payroll as a separate product standalone? The CRM as a standalone, or is this like you're either in CORE or [00:17:00] you're not in CORE?
Shafat Qazi: Yes, you could sign up for CORE HR to do your human-resource management of your business - from hiring your employees, to fighting your employees, to managing their benefits. You could also do the same for CORE CRM, or CORE Payroll, but there is some level, or some other piece needed.
For example, you don't need necessarily a Time and Expense piece for CRM, but you would probably need a basic management license so that you can enter [00:17:30] your employees and things like that. There is some pieces that you would still need, and it's a subscription-based à la carte system, but yes, you could technically buy just CORE CRM and nothing else, and/or CORE Payroll only. Just sell that part only and not have the need to buy the rest of the application. Absolutely.
We built this with the pure APIs. Everything was done with APIs. It took us two-and-a-half years to build some of the most modern and fastest API you'll [00:18:00] ever see that meet all the industry standards. Our goal was really to integrate with everything, all the way down to Tesla, or your iWatch, or Apple Watch, or whatever you may have. We were agnostic to the device; we were agnostic to the location. We wanted this to be truly an application that's API-driven.
All the business logic is handled at our server. We also wanted to be agnostic- we didn't want to really force [00:18:30] people to be using our pieces that we were rolling out, because CORE, we saw this as a platform, not as a product. Right out of the box, we started integrating with Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, QuickBooks, [MyOps], AccountRight, Xero, Microsoft Office 365, and a few other things. We're now rolling out ADP integration, and Salesforce ...
That's a good example of how agnostic we are. We're rolling out our own payroll, but also rolling out integration with ADP, [00:19:00] because we understand there are some businesses that may not be able to move their payroll to us, but we want to minimize the double entry. Yes, Blake?
Blake Oliver: Shafat, this is so nice to hear, as somebody who has been preaching the gospel of cloud accounting and the ecosystem. I'm sure David feels the same way. Most of the time, when we talk to software developers, or providers of ERP systems ... Which, basically, it seems like you've got an ERP [00:19:30] here. Do you consider BQE to be an ERP?
Shafat Qazi: The word 'ERP,' for small and medium businesses, which is our focus is kind of not commonly used-.
Blake Oliver: Kind of a bad word, right?
Shafat Qazi: Yeah, it's scary because it costs so much, when people think of ERP.
Blake Oliver: Right.
Shafat Qazi: Technically, yes, we're bringing the ERP functionality, which only top Fortune 500 firms were privy, or privileged to have ... We're bringing that down to small, and medium business at a very affordable price. At [00:20:00] the same time, we're also focused on making sure that they never enter data twice. Essentially, whatever they're doing, we try to keep it integrated - fully integrated - with all the products that they might be using.
Blake Oliver: What I was trying to get at is that when I look at the integrations available with most ERPs, they limit the integrations, because they want to own as much of the data as they can. They'll only [00:20:30] allow integrations with products that don't threaten them ... You are plug-and-play in that somebody can use CORE for everything but the GL, and then integrate a Xero, or a QuickBooks for the GL.
Shafat Qazi: That is correct.
Blake Oliver: Or they could use CORE for the GL, and time, and billing, and projects, and then integrate a payroll provider. It's really modular in that sense. Am I getting it right?
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, and you only pay for the pieces you use, per user, so it's [00:21:00] not like when you have to buy all pieces for all users within a company. If you have 20 employees, and 15 of them just need time sheet, and expense sheet, you buy only Time and Expense subscription for them, and you pay under 10 bucks for them, per user; but, you, as an owner, might need project management, and billing, so you would pay additional 20 bucks or whatever that might be for your piece of subscription.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, that's really, really neat pricing. That's such a cool thing.
Shafat Qazi: Great. [00:21:30] Two innovations that we did ... By the way, Blake, that was another thing I had a lot of friction on from a lot of people. They wanted one pricing - $24.95 for everybody, $30. I like, "No!" Think of a firm, where 18, 15, 16 people just need to capture time. Why are they paying 30 bucks for those guys? It just does not-
Blake Oliver: You're forced to. It's not user-friendly-
Shafat Qazi: And it's not competitive, [00:22:00] because then, what we were competing with was a $10 time-sheet software, and they were losing the benefits of having all of that in one place. That was important for us. Continuing on with my slide deck here, BQE market, I mentioned earlier that we have a significantly large market, as you can see. We focus on professional-service firms. This is from US Department of Commerce. As of [00:22:30] last year, actually 2017, 1.2 million professional-service firms; 9 million Americans are employed by professional-service firms. $1.76 trillion are spent by them. That's the revenue of these firms.
You can see the breakdown, by the way. This is really amazing. Look at accounting - $175 billion revenue on accounting firms; 130,000 accounting firms. There are more accounting firms than architectural, and engineering firms combined. Legal [00:23:00] firms - 185,000. We definitely love lawyers. We meaning the country, not BQE. We don't have that much concentration in law firms yet. We're mostly focused on accounting, architectural/engineering, and we do really well in management consulting. At the end of the day, that's where we shine. That's where we're focused on making their lives better and building the product that is vertical, understands their [00:23:30] language, and understands their need for the businesses.
One of the things we do is we ask the user, when they sign up for a trial, or sign up to buy the product, is what industry are you in? As soon as they tell us what industry they're in, we change the product's configuration files, and everything else, so that the lexicon, and the terminology matches their business style. As an example, for an architect, it's a client, and a project. For a [00:24:00] law firm, it's a client, and a matter. For an accountant, it's a client, and engagement. We rename the project to matter, if you say you're from a law firm, or we'll rename it to engagement, if you say, "I'm an accounting firm."
Even trust-fund accounting, as an example, will show up only if you said you were in the legal industry, but if you're in the engineering industry, that feature is not made visible to the end-user. The whole point being that we're right for [00:24:30] your business. We understand how your business works because we have experts that ran these type of businesses, and they have worked with us over the years to make this platform perfectly fit your business. Key differences, I'm going to skip that slide, because you're going to see the product very soon. I'm going to get right into the demo. Show you this dream product that I have ... Since Blake is seeing it for the first time ... I'm guessing, David, you're seeing it for the first time, too. I would love to get you honest feedback, despite [00:25:00] the fact we're live. If you don't like anything, say it. Here you go-
Blake Oliver: Well, I will say I think I saw BillQuick many years ago.
Shafat Qazi: Yes, well-
Blake Oliver: I'm sure it has changed [cross talk] a lot from then.
Shafat Qazi: Yes, it has changed significantly. I'm logging into-
David Leary: Well, it's in the cloud, now [cross talk] start with that.
Shafat Qazi: It's not just that. It's a completely different- I could go on for hours to tell you how, under the hood, it's significantly better. I'm logging into CORE here. This is just my web app. As you can see, as soon as I log [00:25:30] in, what you see here is my welcome screen, or my dashboard. I want to give you an orientation on the product, first, real quickly. Everything is on the left now. As you can see, we've deliberately put most of the functionalities on the left navigator. I'm logged in as the owner of the company. I have a full subscription to everything, so I'm seeing everything in there.
You can see, under my contacts, I have my employees, I have my vendors, I have my clients. If [00:26:00] you're wondering what this plus symbol is right next to that, that's if you want to add a new employee, you click on that plus; it launches you into the Create Employee mode, rather than dropping you in the employee list. Right below the Contacts, we have various lists, activity items, like service items. Expense items are more like charge items. Then we have custom fields. We have many other lists that you manage through the List screen.
Of course, Project is the epicenter of CORE, because [00:26:30] we are, at the end of the day, project-based system, and we do project accounting. This is where you would setup project requirements. I'm logged into a sample engineering company, so the last three features you see at the bottom there are more engineering-specific, or architectural-specific. You have Projects; you assign people to the project; you start allocating time, and money towards the project; you develop your budgets. From budgets, you build estimates for [00:27:00] your clients; you build your fee schedules. Fee Schedules are more like rate cards. We know that nobody bills all the clients at the same rate, and that's where you control that. As I said, the last three features are not- they're are industry specific.
Under Time, and Expense, we have multiple interfaces, from timecard, to time entries, to timers, and expense entries, reviewers. We have a PTO tracking, and we have a overtime calculator that handles pretty [00:27:30] much all 50 states. Under Billing, you would do your invoices statements, receive payments on invoices, send a retainer invoice to your client, issue a credit memo, do invoice collection. We have a really nice collection system. You'll be surprised. Professional-service industry is one of those industries ...
I personally experienced that when I was running my own firm for eight years. Your clients don't pay you on time. You have to literally beg them to pay you. I don't know why. I was always telling them- I [00:28:00] said, "Why is it ..." I would tell my clients, "Why is it on the phone that I am feeling like you're doing me a favor by paying me something I did for you, and I already paid my employees for that service that they provided?" Anyway we have that. Try under accounting, David, this is the GL side ... You can see Chart of Account, Full Register, your Deposit, Bank Feeds. We since renamed it to Cloud Feeds. We now actually handle both credit cards, and bank feeds, and automatic reconciliation, and rule-based [00:28:30] checks, fund transfer. Of course, general, and recurring checks.
Under payables, we handle from purchase orders, to bill payment, vendor credits, and recurring bills. If you have that rent bill that comes in every month ... Then we have some productivity tools that are important. We have a very powerful Report Center. Any menu item, any screen, you can make that favorite; that way, it will appear under your [cross talk].
David Leary: Easy access, yep. [00:29:00]
Shafat Qazi: One of the things I wanted to show you is the utility icons in the upper right corner. If I zoom into that, you can see, of course, that's my health, but there are a few more, like my calendar. We have a built-in calendar, where you can schedule office meetings, and track time against that for all the people that participated in that meeting. We also have alerts. You can see the little bell for alerts, so I can see what my alerts are and take action on those. Then, [00:29:30] of course, we have built-in messaging system, where you can leave event-specific messaging, like, "Give this message to a Shafat, when he does billing," that kind of stuff.
David Leary: Your messaging system, is it just employee-to-employee, internally, or if I was an accountant, can I use that to communicate with my clients?
Shafat Qazi: You're right, it is employee-to-employee only, but we are planning to roll it out that if you have multiple company files, then you [00:30:00] could send to anyone within those company files, which means that if you're an accountant, and you're managing 20 employees, you could really ... Sorry, 20 clients. You could send that email, or message to 20 clients.
David Leary: Awesome.
Shafat Qazi: Timer, right here, you can run unlimited amount of timers in CORE. You can jump from one timer to another timer. I have three timers scheduled to run. I click on a play button on any of them, or I can add a brand-new timer from there. These are always at the top. We refer to them as utility icons. To the left of the utility [00:30:30] icon is my Company menu, where I have my profile, my user preferences. Under my settings, you can see I have my company profile, global settings.
Of course, scores of permission-driven applications, so all the permissions, and a few other things. We also do multiple currencies, so there's a currency manager. This is where you would add a subscription and add users. Then, if you had multiple companies, this is where you could switch from one company to another company. Then, last but not least, we have a Google-style search. You're trying to pull up [00:31:00] something on a client, you just type in client's name and that comes in [cross talk]
Blake Oliver: Are you searching the whole database?
Shafat Qazi: Exactly.
Blake Oliver: I can search for anything in BQE CORE from there?
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, absolutely.
Blake Oliver: That's nice.
Shafat Qazi: That's the beauty is that we wanted to pull up ... Now, it is still security driven, so it knows who you are and what permissions you have. It won't show you anything that you're not supposed to see.
David Leary: Makes sense.
Blake Oliver: Got it.
Shafat Qazi: On the dashboards, [00:31:30] we have a unlimited dashboards. I have two dashboards here - my management dashboard and my personal dashboard. You can add as many dashboards as you want. You can share them. These widgets on the dashboards have their own heartbeat. They refresh on their own. You can have multiple widgets with multiple filters.
For example, this is my last 12 months income widget. To the right of that, I see what my expenses have been, so far this year. Then I have kept my income-expense graph in there. Of course, you [00:32:00] see that little control there ... I'm looking at last 12 months, but I can change that, and have another widget that just looks at this quarter. Account receivable, project performance, my earned value. The point being is that we wanted to inform the user, depending on what your permissions are, about the KPIs that mean a lot to you, and you need to keep your fingers on that pulse.
David Leary: I think a lot of apps just have a dashboard. If I [00:32:30] just heard you correctly, each employee of your company could have their own dashboard on what they need to worry about.
Shafat Qazi: Yes. Absolutely. Absolutely. If I create a dashboard for all the managers, I can share that with the managers, so no need to twice create a same dashboard.
David Leary: Okay.
Blake Oliver: You've shown us a ton of modules, features, menu items, and we've also discussed how your pricing is unique [00:33:00] in that it is modular. How much of this do I get in the base module?
Shafat Qazi: Basically, the pricing on CORE is à la carte. What that means is there's no base module, per se. It is role-driven. For example, if you buy Time and Expense, what you will get is a time sheet, and you'll get expense sheet, and you'll get the PTO tracking in Time and Expense for as little as $7.95 a month, if you [00:33:30] buy three-year subscription; $9.95 a month, if you buy one-year subscription.
There are certain features that everybody gets automatically, whether or not ... You don't have to pay for that. If you get Time and Expense module of subscription, you get certain common features. By common features, I mean, for example, Workflow. You get the Workflow. Your ability to track- you get the dashboard to track and to do your own dashboard widgets and everything else. There are certain common features that everybody gets. But, [00:34:00] again, if you hire a bookkeeper, and you want to give that bookkeeper an access to the GL, then you pay $24.95, or $29.95. I'm not quite sure exactly what the price is. I think it's $24.95 for the GL.
Blake Oliver: Yep.
Shafat Qazi: That bookkeeper just needs that ... That bookkeeper does not need Time and Expense. The bookkeeper is not tracking time, so it does not need [cross talk] management. Tt's piece by piece; each person pays their own piece. [00:34:30]
Blake Oliver: Got it.
Shafat Qazi: All right, wonderful. Let's show you a little bit more. Considering the time, I'm gonna try to speed it up a little bit.
David Leary: Yeah, right. I think we'd want to see CORE Intelligence [cross talk] the promised preview, never before seen. This is what we wanna see.
Shafat Qazi: Yes. Well, before we get to CORE Intelligence, I want to show you business intelligence. Now, one of the differentiators in CORE is that we believe that we help businesses make more money by making them aware of what works and what doesn't work and [00:35:00] keeping that information at their fingertips.
As an example, I'll show you my employee screen. I go to my employee list on this application, and here's my list of my employees. I'm logged in as Scott Jackson, so let me click on Scott Jackson. As you can see, now I see the details of Scott Jackson - a very open interface. A lot of whitespace.
Take your eyes to the upper right, where it says Performance. When I click on the performance for Scott Jackson, this is where I want to wow the [00:35:30] world and the customers. Instantly we will bring in the KPIs that people could not even imagine getting it at any moment. They would literally have to hire Blake and pay him a lot of money, once a year maybe, if they could afford it, to get things like what is the ideal pay rate for Scott Jackson.
Blake Oliver: You're making a lot of assumptions about my ability as a financial analyst, but I'll let you ... We'll go with that.
Shafat Qazi: Well, what I meant is they would hire a CPA-.
Blake Oliver: Yes.
Shafat Qazi: -and [00:36:00] have to get that done. Things like minimum bill rate, effective bill rate; even for that reason, basic things like utilization cost rate. All of those factors that we know matter. As you scroll down, you can see we bring in tremendous amount of business intelligence, literally at fingertips, and you can run it for any date range you want.
Blake Oliver: I'm seeing utilization, margin, realization, overtime, in a nice, really intuitive dashboard. That's really cool.
Shafat Qazi: Correct. Here's [00:36:30] my client list now, and I'm gonna go drill into my top client there, Arclight Theaters, and go to the performance on that client. Now I'm gonna get my KPIs for the client. As you can see, if I wanted to filter it by let's say this year to date, I can do that and get my KPIs instantly, showing me that I'm making 62-percent profit with this client. I am 35-percent complete on my contract, and client has paid 92 percent of their bills as of today, and [00:37:00] my total hours are 1,669. Everything that I've done on this client is billable. Two hours are non-billable, so pretty much 100-percent billable. My work in progress, which means that if I want to invoice this client today, I could invoice another 70,000 dollars approximately there-
Blake Oliver: Do you support different types of billing? Let's say I'm billing a fixed fee as for the project, or I'm not billing on an hourly basis. Can I build a fixed fee and track my hours against that, just for internal reporting, [00:37:30] that sort of thing?
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, absolutely, and that's very common. You would have both value billing, as well as fixed-fee billing, or even recurring billing, or even a combination thereof. We actually have a contract type in CORE, where you can have what we call a fixed plus hourly. "Hey, I'll do your payroll for $800 a month, but any consulting work you give me, that will be hourly." We have even that kind of scenarios well-handled in CORE, so, yes, absolutely, all [00:38:00] of that is in CORE. Now you can see billability analysis, your earned value, your margins. We show you margins both on billed, as well as billable time and expense. We can see margins down to each expense that you have incurred on that particular client.
Now, time-tracking, of course, this is where we started. I'm not going to spend too much time on it. I just want to show you that we believe that one of the main reasons people don't want to track [00:38:30] their time is because you ask them to track time, and it's full of friction. There are too many steps.
Blake Oliver: Yeah.
Shafat Qazi: We made our time sheet very simple. We were actually inspired by Google Sheets, where it was saving the information automatically on its own. That's exactly what we did. We use artificial intelligence to pre-fill your time sheet. You can see as I logged into my time sheet, it's pre-filled. It knows what I'm supposed to work on and uses a tremendous amount of artificial intelligence to try [00:39:00] to figure that out.
That's the first wow the employees have when they see their time sheet already knows what jobs they're supposed to be working on and what activities. Then, all they have to do is punch in their hours. I can put eight hours on Monday, and eight hours on Tuesday, so on, and so forth. As I do so, notice that I'm not saving. It says, "Saved successfully." It's saving in the background. Low friction; you're done literally in minutes.
Same concept on your mobile phone; you could really easily capture your time on the mobile phone. Nothing [00:39:30] else is needed. If you want to put a detailed memo on one of the time entries, say something like, "I worked on design specifications," very easy to do that by just simply adding that memo to that time entry, and everything is saved automatically for you. No nothing else needed. Then, if you want auto-submit, we also have an auto-submit feature, or you can manually submit it.
This is another view of the time entry, more like an Excel spreadsheet. You can see here the same 40 hours that [00:40:00] I just entered in the week view, and I can drill into details. Same note that I entered into the other one. Of course, here I have capability into a lot more attributes to that time entry that I did not have on that simplified view.
Let's see, what else do I want to show you? Let's see ... I want to go ahead and show you timers. Timers, it's very simple; straightforward. In lieu of time, let's just show you a couple things on the reports real quick. Very powerful [00:40:30] report center - 200-plus reports organized into these groups. You can expand any group.
Let's expand Aging. You have each report with a detailed description of what the report's about. You click on Aging Report. You have filters. You can remove the filters, add filters. Let's just remove that filter ... You also have options. You can say, "Group my invoices by client," or, "Group my invoices by job, or by date." or whatever.
Once you hit that Continue button, the report [00:41:00] pops up on your screen literally instantly. We allow you to either memorize it or make it favorite. Here I'm on page two of the report. If I want to go to the last page, of course, we always will show you a grand total of what people owe you.
Now, if you want to run it every week, you can easily memorize that or you want to email it to someone as a PDF, or Excel, all built into our reporting engine. You don't how to necessarily do anything extra for that. One [00:41:30] of my favorite features on the reporting platform is that we allow you to schedule a report. David, this is something that nobody has yet, as far as I know. I don't think Intuit has it, too, or anybody else. Any report that you see in our library, including a custom report that you might add, you can just click on that Schedule option and say, "Schedule this report," and have it delivered to anyone. Here, David, to answer your question - anyone. Anybody's email address; your accountant ...
You [00:42:00] want to send your payment, or cashflow, or invoices paid, or anything, or a project status report for your project managers, you schedule it. It's one of those 'set it and forget it' deal. Sure enough, they can't later on complain saying, "I didn't know the project was running out of budget," because you're giving them that updated project spend report every Monday morning. Or, you want to send something to your accountant, or even your client ... If you want to remind clients of past due invoices, you can send the [00:42:30] past due invoice report to each client automatically.
David Leary: Shafat, before you jump into your next demo here, just to check on time ... Anybody has any questions, please definitely ask in the comments. Then, actually, I'll make an observation here that I don't think it's going to come across in the audio - this is all running in the cloud, and it's just shockingly fast.
Shafat Qazi: Yes [cross talk]
David Leary: -and I'm not using it. I'm [00:43:00] just watching you, but my gut- it feels faster than most other cloud-based apps I've seen or used, especially when it's refreshing to report, pulling up data, drawing or graph. I'm kind of surprised how quickly it's going.
Shafat Qazi: I encourage you to use it. That was one of the five mantras that we had written when we started. We didn't want to see the hourglass. That was one of them. You'll be surprised, one of the mantras was also that allow people to use it without a mouse. The [00:43:30] point being that we know many of our customers heavily use keyboard for data entry. We wanted them to be able to jump from one row to another row in their GL, or time entry screen, or whatever without the mouse. The mouse was a friction for them. They would be there for days, if they were using mouse.
There is a lot of great things in CORE, and one of them that we're really, really proud of is our speed. We monitor our own APIs in real time, [00:44:00] every minute. If any of the API takes more than 400 milliseconds to respond, which is our benchmark maximum response time, we will go ahead, and raise a red flag, and the engineers are alerted. That's been that way ... People that use CORE do tell us that. They say, "Wow, this is by far faster than my desktop application."
Okay, the real highlight of today's event is my CORE Intelligence. I want [00:44:30] to give you a little background. I am a big believer in voice being a low-friction input method. There are new methods of input that have popped up in the last 10 years, from your camera, to your touch, to your microphone, to your altimeter, to your motion sensors [cross talk]
David Leary: -two episodes ago, right? Three episodes ago with the Google reservation thing.
Blake Oliver: Google Duplex.
Shafat Qazi: There you go, yes, Google Duplex-
David Leary: Google Duplex.
Shafat Qazi: -is an amazing tool, where it uses voice, and this. What [00:45:00] we did is we have been studying the natural language processors and the deep neural network combined with the simplified algorithms for machine learning and the training ... The less work required to train the AI or train the machines to learn. We've been working on API specific to voice ... We really wanted this particular piece of our application to be more [00:45:30] like your business analyst, or your business partner. We didn't want to say, "Hey, you know what? You can say 'make a time entry,' or 'start a timer.'" That's no big deal.
We wanted somebody that I can ask any question about my business, and it would give me an intelligent answer - kind of that Data that we all remember from Star Wars, who knew everything. That's what CORE Intelligence is. This is in [00:46:00] beta. It's coming out in a week, and you will see the announcement soon. Our customers are enjoying it today. Many beta testers have been using it. Let's try to see if we can go ahead and show you a couple of things here. I'm going to actually switch my screen just to bring another area of CORE. Bear with me a second here. What [00:46:30] I wanted to show you is a conversation mode - basically me asking questions. Nothing here is rehearsed, so, please bear with me.
Let's just start with it and play. I'm going to go back to what I showed you earlier, which is employee Scott Jackson, and I'm going to show you the Performance tab on Scott Jackson. Let's see if it works. Ok, Google, talk to CORE Intelligence. By the way, I'm using a standard Google Home on my desk ... Everybody has either that [00:47:00] or Alexa now. Let's see if it works.
Shafat Qazi: Okay, Google, talk to CORE Intelligence.
Google: Sure. Let's get the test version of CORE Intelligence. Hi, Scott Jackson, you rang?
Shafat Qazi: Yeah, what's the ideal pay rate for Scott Jackson?
Google: The ideal pay rate for Scott is $69 per hour. Any other questions? [00:47:30]
Shafat Qazi: Yeah, what about his effective bill rate?
Google: The effective bill rate for Scott has $163 per hour.
Blake Oliver: Wow ...
Google: Is there anything else I can help you with?
Shafat Qazi: How about his utilization?
Google: The utilization rate is 89 percent with 2,652 billable [00:48:00] hours and 10 non-billable hours. Scott has 185 overhead hours and 146 paid time off hours. Anything else?
Shafat Qazi: Yeah, can you tell me who's my best client?
Google: Arclight Theaters is ranked number one among 11 clients with 161-percent profit, which amounts to- [audio stops]
Blake Oliver: The [00:48:30] audio just cut [cross talk].
David Leary: I think we lost the audio.
Blake Oliver: Oh, there, he's back.
Google: Janet DeMarco is ranked number one among 40 employees with an effective bill rate of $186 dollars per hour [cross talk]
Blake Oliver: Hey, Shafat, we lost you for one or two seconds. Would you mind just going back and showing us the-.
Shafat Qazi: Sure. I asked her who's my best client.
Google: Arclight [00:49:00] Theaters is ranked number one among 11 clients with 161-percent profit, which amounts to $274,899. What else would you like to know?
Shafat Qazi: How much does Arclight Theaters owe me?
Google: Client, or project?
Shafat Qazi: Client.
Google: Did you mean Arclight Theaters?
Shafat Qazi: Yes.
Google: The [00:49:30] client is at 76-percent completed, with $950,000 contracted and $717,811 used. There is a balance of $232,189. What else can I help you with?
Shafat Qazi: Hey, what's on my to-do list for today?
Google: You have one thing on your to-do list: [00:50:00] interview with one and only David Leary of Cloud Accounting Podcast. Anything else?
Shafat Qazi: Yeah, what's on my to-do list for next week?
Google: You have nothing on your to-do list for next week. Would [cross talk].
Blake Oliver: -are you taking a vacation?
Google: -your upcoming tasks?
Shafat Qazi: Yes.
Google: You have no upcoming tasks. By the way, you [00:50:30] are running late on the following to-dos: meeting with stakeholders to assist in developing the schedule and budget. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Shafat Qazi: No, thank you. One thing I wanted to show you ... David, you asked for it, which was can it do ... These were on analytical, and read-only operations. Can it do write? We're deploying the write part of it. I just want to show you how I can create a quick to-do for meeting [00:51:00] with let's say Blake, next week. Let's try that. Talk to CORE Intelligence.
Google: CORE Intelligence isn't responding right now. Try again soon.
Shafat Qazi: Oh ...
Blake Oliver: The hazards of live demos.
Shafat Qazi: Talk to CORE Intelligence.
Google: Okay. Getting the test version of CORE Intelligence.
Blake Oliver: There we go.
Google: Hey, Scott Jackson, got a question?
Shafat Qazi: Yeah. Can you create [00:51:30] a to-do for me?
Google: Why not? What should I call it?
Shafat Qazi: Meeting with David and Blake next week at Scaling New Heights.
Google: Okay, got it. Your to-do task will be named as "Meeting with David and Blake next week at Scaling New Heights." Do you want this task for a client, employee, or project?
Shafat Qazi: Employee.
Google: Great. Could [00:52:00] you please help me with the employee name?
Shafat Qazi: Scott Jackson. Watch this.
Google: A to-do has been created for employee Scott Jackson with name, "Meeting with David and Blake next week at Scaling New Heights" and is active now. In case you need to modify this to-do, you can always update it via CORE mobile app. Anything else?
Shafat Qazi: No, thank you, goodbye. Notice-.
Blake Oliver: -there it is.
Shafat Qazi: -"Meeting with David and Blake next week at [00:52:30] Scaling New Heights."
David Leary: Right there on the dashboard for everybody to see.
Shafat Qazi: Instantly, yes.
Blake Oliver: Wow.
Shafat Qazi: All right, goodbye. Thank you [Google keeps talking] Thank you goodbye. She stopped. Okay, great. What do you guys think?
Blake Oliver: Well, I have to say, Shafat, we've been attending QuickBooks Connect for a number of years now, and I keep seeing demos of an [00:53:00] artificially intelligent assistant for QuickBooks that has not, to my knowledge, yet been released, and you have done it. You have done it for BQE CORE.
David Leary: I've seen it in lots of hackathons, demo ones. People would build the proof of concept in a weekend and then that would be it. It just goes away. What I think is interesting about you having a voice assistant in CORE is I have the gut feeling that there's a lot of solo architects, engineers, people out there that either A) don't have a secretary; they don't have [00:53:30] an assistant; they don't have a staff. They could really utilize a voice bot - be it Google Home, or an Alexa at their desk, and really add to-dos, find out when their next meeting is, get some data before their next phone call. It's very, very helpful for that role.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, when I was working in public accounting, my timesheet was the bane of my existence, and I would love ... I could imagine you're going to allow people to create time entries this way, right?
Shafat Qazi: Yes, absolutely.
Blake Oliver: I would use that all day long.
Shafat Qazi: Absolutely, absolutely. Also, [00:54:00] think about these use cases. I have a review with my employee. I didn't get time to review his performance sheets. I just got a call; I'm running late; I'm asking my device on my desk to update me about that employee, while I'm finishing up the email.
Google: Think about it this way - public accounting, we're talking about accountants who have clients. Can you imagine your client dialing in, and punching his code, and having a conversation with a business analyst like this [00:54:30] one about their business? "Can I pay my bills? Do I have enough cash? What's my forecast? What should I be watching for?" All those kinds of things.
Shafat Qazi: What you saw at Hackathon, David, was more like let's have voice as a method of input. What we're doing here is completely different. We're taking advantage of the deep neural network, machine learning to an extent that, of course, and no matter which language, which way you ask that question, it [00:55:00] will intelligently extract the intent, and then utilize the entire data that it has to present the best answer. I don't know if you noticed it, but two interesting things that it did. One was context. When I said, "What's the ideal pay rate for Scott?" It gave me the ideal pay rate. Then I said, "What's his effective bill rate?" I didn't say Scott at that time. It knew which context I was in.
Blake Oliver: Yeah, good point.
Shafat Qazi: The other thing that it did is I said, "What's on my to-do for today?" And it said, "You've got [00:55:30] this on ... You've got nothing for the next week. By the way, you are late on such and such to-do." It's saying, "Okay, Shafat's interested in knowing what he has on his to-do. Maybe I should tell him about a to-do that was due yesterday, and he hasn't submitted that yet." That, "Oh, by the way, if you have a meeting with such and such client, if you leave now, you're going to be there in 30 minutes" is very important to humanize the artificial intelligence, so we can feel comfortable with it.
Blake Oliver: Got it. It's not just about inputting [00:56:00] data. It's about extracting insights in context and giving you contextual information. I really- I noticed that with, when you asked, "What's my most profitable client?" It wanted to know by project- if you were interested in the project, or client [cross talk]
Shafat Qazi: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.
Blake Oliver: That was smart.
Shafat Qazi: Exactly.
Blake Oliver: Really neat.
David Leary: Cool. Obviously, this was a preview. I know you mentioned you're going to Scaling New Heights. If people track you down, or go to the CORE booth at [00:56:30] Scaling New Heights, can they play with this? Can they ask ... Does it have a name? Is it COREy, or is it just [cross talk]
Shafat Qazi: -we submitted- we actually liked COREy. We submitted COREy. Google rejected that. They want something that is unique. So far, we're calling it CORE Intelligence ... We will have CORE Intelligence to play with at booth 64 at the Scaling New Heights. I'm actually doing a mainstage on Sunday at 4:00 p.m., at Scaling New Heights. [00:57:00] I'm actually one of the guys that kicks off the conference. Then please do come to our booth 64, and we'd love you to ask all kinds of questions. She can also tell jokes, by the way.
The whole point is you want an assistant on your desk for basic business-related questions or even complex business-related questions. You know that you got the right answer, so that allows you to make that right decision all [00:57:30] the time, every time. You're not issuing a raise to an employee, because you like that employee. You're issuing a raise to an employee, because you now have the data that tells you that that employee has a such and such effective bill rate, and the ideal pay rate for the employee should be this much.
David Leary: Got it. We're about at the top of the hour here. If somebody wants to learn more about CORE, get a hold of you, what are the best ways to do that?
Shafat Qazi: BQE.com. [00:58:00] If you forget that, remember Brooklyn Queens Expressway. I grew up in New York, so I will say that. BQE.com is the best way to find us. All the links to CORE trial, everything is up there. If they want to follow me on Twitter, I'm Shafat, S-H-A-F-A-T, as simple as that. The same on Facebook. I would love to chat with people, if they want to learn more about- or even want to test the AI and [00:58:30] help us make it even smarter. We understand we are at a very inception, but we believe that we have something that might be more acceptable to the end-users than the typical voice-recognition systems that we have seen.
David Leary: Blake, did you have anything else additional to add on here, or ...?
Blake Oliver: Well, where should people connect with you online, David?
David Leary: Oh, I'm @DavidLeary, and yourself?
Blake Oliver: And I'm @BlakeTOliver. Thank you so much, Shafat, and all our listeners, subscribe [00:59:00] to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I should say all of our viewers subscribe to The Cloud Accounting Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify - wherever you get your podcasts. We look forward to seeing you in person, Shafat.
Shafat Qazi: By the way, you have a great podcast. I was telling David that I'd been listening to it from day one. I can see things that will grow, and this is one of those things.
David Leary: Oh, thank you.
Shafat Qazi: This is transforming both of you into [00:59:30] journalists, so get prepared for this. Hats off. Wonderful job. Keep it up, and I want to see it grow really, really big. We have [cross talk] much need for that.
Blake Oliver: -that means a lot coming from you.
Shafat Qazi: Take care.
Blake Oliver: We'll wrap it up.
Shafat Qazi: Thank you. Goodbye.
David Leary: Thanks, everybody. Bye.