Earth Class Mail

Meet Claire Lew, CEO of KnowYourCompany.com

Our last customer spotlight highlighted a long time Earth Class Mail customer.  This time around we chat with one of our newest customers.   I am thrilled to introduce you to Claire Lew, CEO of KnowYourCompany.com. KnowYourCompany.com is a killer software tool that helps CEOs with 25 to 75 employees overcome growing pains.  I used when I was CEO of HomeFinder.com, and we're implementing at Earth Class Mail this week.

Thanks for so much for sharing your story Claire, Can you tell us a bit about yourself and KnowYourCompany.com? What does KnowYourCompany.com do, and what sets you apart?

Sure thing! I'm Claire Lew, the CEO of Know Your Company. We're a simple software tool that helps business owners with 25 to 75 employees overcome growing pains. The software was originally built by Basecamp (formerly 37signals). Since then, Know Your Company has helped over 8,000 people at companies like Airbnb and Kickstarter.

What do I mean by “growing pains”? As the founder of your company, you start with 5 or 10 people. But then you hit 30, 40, 50 employees. As you grow, it gets harder and harder to know what your employees think about the company, and how they think things could be better. Sustaining a good company culture is tough to do. You just don't feel as "in tune" with your company anymore.

That's where Know Your Company comes in. Every week, you're guaranteed to learn something new about your company you never knew before. You'll learn what folks are working on, you'll learn how people feel about employee benefits, the vision of the company, etc. And you'll learn more about your employees, and feel more connected to them as people.

How did you get started and why?

We were actually originally a software product built by Basecamp (formerly 37signals). In December 2013, they spun it out Know Your Company as it’s own separate company and asked me to run Know Your Company as its CEO (you can read more about the spin-off here).

How did I get involved in all of this, to begin with? A few years ago, I was an unhappy employee. I was working at an early stage ecommerce company. As an employee, I would have ideas and suggestions that I wanted to voice to our CEO – but I didn't feel comfortable doing so. I felt that I couldn’t give open and honest feedback at work.

So I decided to quit my job and dedicate myself to solving this problem. I founded ClarityBox, a consulting practice for CEOs, to help CEOs uncover what their employees really thought about the company, and to help employees feel more connected to their company, as well.

Basecamp (then called 37signals) was my first official client. Coincidentally, Basecamp also happened to be focused on solving the same problem. They were building a software product…called Know Your Company. The rest is history from there!

Do you have an incredible customer success story you can share?

Ah, yes! We're lucky to have quite a few customer success stories. One story that always sticks out to me is about one of our customers, Paul Bellow, co-CEO of Yellow Pencil, a web consultancy based in Canada. He told me that they actually changed their target market as a company because of suggestions that employees gave through Know Your Company. Without Know Your Company, Yellow Pencil never would've learned that valuable insight and made that important shift in their business.

That's just one story, though. If you were curious, we're humbled to have a whole bunch of nice things that other CEOs have said about us.

What’s the best business decision you made in the last year?

By far, the best business decision I made in the last year is to hire our programmer, Matt. He absolutely kicks butt. Plus, we're a small company too – two people, in fact :-) We support over 8,000 people who use our product. So choosing Employee #2 was critical. It goes to show how the right hire can really make all the difference. Matt, thank you for everything you do for us!

Can you share a tip, trick, hack, tool or service with our readers that makes you better, or makes your days more effective?

One tip I try to live by is “focus”. Sure, it's common to hear, "You need to have focus in your business." But practicing that on a daily basis requires real disciple.

For us, as a small company, we have to stay focused in order to survive. And it's paid huge dividends.

To force ourselves to be focused, we'll pick one thing to focus for a month – and only one thing – and throw all of our energy behind it. For instance, one month our focus might be to redesign our blog. Another month, it might be to improve our Icebreakers feature.

By only choosing to focus on one thing at a time, we’re able to execute on that one thing much better.

Why did you choose to become a EarthClassMail customer?

I'm out on the road pretty often, doing a lot of speaking (you can check out some of the talks I've done here, if you’d like!). We're also a 100% remote company (I live in Chicago, Matt lives in Atlanta).

So checking our mail regularly can be a real obstacle. I loved the fact that EarthClassMail takes all the hassle out of it. Now, I no longer have to worry, "Oh is a client's check arriving soon, and will I have time to cash it?” Or, "Am I going to miss an important insurance notice because I'm out on the road the next month?"

EarthClassMail saves me all that time and stress. Signing up for the service was a no-brainer for us.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, any parting words or advice for our readers?

Thanks so much for having me here! Was fun to share a bit about ourselves, and hopefully, it was useful to learn about us too. If you're business owner who's felt those growing pains I mentioned earlier, definitely feel free to reach out to me directly at claire@knowyourcompany.com, or check us out at http://knowyourcompany.com. I’d love to see if we could help.

Have a great week! 

Want to make your business more efficient?  Sign up for Earth Class Mail and say goodbye to paper mail drudgery.

Meet Robert Bergqvist, Co-Founder & CEO of RunMags

Our customers rock. We love to share their stories, and are thrilled to introduce you to the next customer in our customer spotlight series, Robert Bergqvist, Co-Founder and CEO of RunMags Inc (www.runmags.com) - RunMags is a cloud-based CRM & fulfillment software platform for progressive magazine publishers.

Thanks for so much for sharing your story Robert, Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your company? What does RunMags.com do, and what sets you apart?

I’m a Swedish guy with a wife and two young kids and we like to travel to experience different cultures. Last year we moved back from the United States but before we did, we spent a couple of months at a retreat in the jungle of Costa Rica.

When my co-founder and I started RunMags, we set out to transform the way modern magazine publishers do business. RunMags is a cloud-based software platform with a mission to make modern magazine publishing manageable and profitable. It’s an all-in-one, integrated solution for managing CRM, ad sales, subscribers, proposals, contracts, pagination, billing, reports and more. RunMags improves productivity by automating tedious tasks and improving collaboration within the team.

The company RunMags Inc. was registered in the State of Delaware and early on we decided to create an office-less company that would allow our team to work from anywhere in the world. So when registering the company, we made sure to have a mailing address with EarthClassMail in order to fit our mobile lifestyle.

How did you get started and why?

There are a quite a few software solutions in the market specialized in specific fields like CRM, accounting, project management and pagination, but we noticed that there was a need for an integrated solution at an affordable price. Running a publishing business is time consuming and the industry is very competitive; our software helps publishers run a profitable business and increase their sales by reducing tedious administrative work and improving productivity.

Do you have an incredible customer success story you can share?

Certainly! One of our oldest customers is a European magazine that doubled their revenue in the last year. While this is not solely due to using our software, RunMags did help them close more deals faster since great looking proposals can be generated from the system without the need to type up a document.

While growing, the company has been able to maintain a slim organization. Before starting with RunMags, they had several spreadsheets to keep track of customers and sales orders. Sometimes there was confusion about what had been agreed with customers and invoicing was a process that took two weeks of working time. Now each order is managed in RunMags, reminders are emailed automatically to customers and invoicing takes two minutes instead of two weeks.

What’s the best business decision you made in the last year?

In March of 2015, we announced a change to RunMags’ pricing structure to include unlimited free users. Up until that point RunMags had a very traditional pricing structure with a user-based component, in large because we were not sure how the cost of Amazon’s cloud hosting service would increase as we grew and onboarded customers.

Anyone that has implemented a CRM or ERP project knows that user adoption is key to success. The more people that get onboard, the more likely it is that using the new system becomes part of daily life. Once our customer base grew to a certain point, we were able to better predict our cost and concluded that we could give our customers unlimited free users to help them drive user adoption without feeling it necessary to limit the number of users due to increased cost.

The change was really well received by customers and I have heard from many of them that it was one of the reasons for opting for our solution as it removed a hurdle in the decision-making process. In the long term, I’m absolutely convinced that the improved user adoption will deliver great customer retention numbers for us.

Can you share a tip, trick, hack, tool or service with our readers that makes you better, or makes your days more effective?

At work I’m all about elimination of things that have little impact and automation of anything that can be done by a computer. Google Apps for Work is such a great platform used by many companies and my advice to other company owners and CEOs would be to make a serious effort to try out Chromebooks and let go of all Microsoft and Apple tools in favor of Google Apps and third party apps for the Google Apps Ecosystem like UberConference, Switch, HipChat and Trello.

Once you mentally break free, you will never want to go back to pesky software updates that suddenly reboot your computer or an IT staff and hardware infrastructure that cost a fortune and break down all the time. With Google Apps, there’s no .pst file that can get corrupted, making you loose all your email. If your Chromebook is stolen, you can have it replaced at a low cost and once you start up the new machine you have access to all the documents and files that you had on the stolen one.

Tell us how EarthClassMail makes you better at your job, or your company better at what it does?

EarthClassMail has really been an enabler for the nomadic lifestyle that we want to lead. There are plenty of software tools and gadgets that allow you to travel and still go about business, but there is also the need for a physical address that government agencies, your bank and others need for you to have.

As we were in Costa Rica, I received an important parcel at EarthClassMail. After seeing the scanned document I had the parcel forwarded to the InterContinental hotel in San Francisco where we were going to stay for a few days on our route to Sweden. A few weeks later, I could pick up the parcel as we checked into the hotel.

What feature can we add or improvement can we make that would make you say, "shut the front door, I need that!"

I’m eagerly waiting to be able to sign in with Google into our EarthClassMail account and to assign user access through Google Admin, thereby making it even easier to use the service. Also, in the name of automation, I would welcome the ability to have EarthClassMail PDF invoices be emailed straight into our cloud based accounting system Xero, using the custom email address we’ve received from Xero.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today, any parting words or advice for our readers?

If your line of business allows for a nomadic lifestyle, make sure to sign up for an account with EarthClassMail - then travel the world!

How to Look Ultra Professional in Three Steps


We were excited for the opportunity to publish a guest post in the Grasshopper blog. Here's an excerpt from "Fake It ‘Til You Make It: How to Look Ultra Professional in 3 Steps":

You only get one chance to make a first impression. First impressions often based on appearances, so it’s important that your business’s first impression is a professional one.

What pops into people’s heads when they see your email? What impression do they form when they call you? What do they think when they see your website? The more professional you look, the more customers will choose you and the more money they will spend with you.

But how can you make a teeny, tiny business look ultra professional? Here are 3 quick steps that will have you well on your way.

Earth Class Mail CEO Doug Breaker goes on to provide three excellent tips on putting your best foot forward:

  • Get a great domain name 
  • Sound like a business when people call you by setting up a service like Grasshopper
  • Get a business address that says, "This is serious business" using a service like Earth Class Mail
A professional business address says, “we’re a serious business”, and ensures that random prospects won’t be showing up at your house. Having a separate business address will also help you keep track of business versus personal mail.

Give the full post a read!

Hello Cloud Storage!

We've recently rolled out our cloud storage feature, enabling you to easily upload your scanned documents directly to Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box. This update dramatically increases your efficiency using Earth Class Mail, as you no longer need to individually download each item that has been scanned in your account.

Setup is easy, you simply need to provide Earth Class Mail access to your account and you'll be all set.

Rules can be put in place to auto upload documents as they are scanned, or you can upload them with just a tap or a click. The end result is a streamlined workflow.

To read more about uploading your files to the cloud and how to quickly setup the feature in your account, visit the Earth Class Mail help center.

As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. We're focusing our efforts on understanding our customers needs and how they use Earth Class Mail, so that we can continue to add as much value to the service as possible.

...and yes, we're pretty excited too :)

Earth Class Mail in Fast Company

We were excited to recently be featured in Fast Company's "The Post Office in the Cloud" - a look at how startup companies are tackling digitization of snail mail.


 Here's a quick snippet featuring Alex Polvi, founder and CEO of CoreOS:

One of the oldest mail digitization services, called Earth Class Mail, integrates with Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox to upload scanned mail and with Bill.com to process invoices and payments.

"Ninety percent of our mail that we actually need, after you weed out the junk, we can digitize it and just have it in our [cloud storage] and that’s good enough," says Alex Polvi, the founder and CEO of server software company CoreOS, which uses Earth Class Mail as its virtual mailroom.

CoreOS has moved offices as it’s grown to its present size of about 40 employees, but it’s maintained a consistent, and somewhat anonymized, mailing address thanks to Earth Class Mail.

Administrative staff can simply handle the company’s mail online, storing necessary documents digitally and having packages forwarded to CoreOS’s physical office address, he says.

Give the full article a read!

Meet Avery Dorland - Accountant

We love our customers at Earth Class Mail, and are especially excited to start a new blog series to highlight them and their success. With that, we'd love to introduce you to Avery Dorland - accountant, tax professional and Xero specialist.


Thanks for joining us today Avery - tell us about yourself and how you got started in accounting

Sure! It’s actually a great story. I grew up in Canada and moved to Wisconsin after college to work for the Forestry Division of the Department of Natural Resources. While working for the state of Wisconsin I was asked to help manage the books. I found that I really enjoyed working with the numbers, and pretty soon I was promoted to manage the budget for the entire Division. I managed $50 million in operating funds and $10 million in capital development. I would say that this is when things really clicked for me, and I realized that I could go out on my own. I had started using Xero early on, and when they made a push to enter the US market they were looking for partners to help promote the product. I signed up for their partner program and six months later, everything took off.

How have things changed since you started working on your own?

Working on my own and with other business owners has let me learn modern and developing business systems. A new business with 10 employees or fewer can really embrace a digital, no paper, mobile office workflow whereas a 300 employee government agency with 50 years of history is a slow ship to turn and can’t just abandon its old ways. The tools available today to businesses that are just starting to build their administrative and accounting processes let them almost leapfrog ahead of bigger, but slower competitors.

How do you help businesses grow?

I grow businesses by upgrading their data. A business’s financial, tax and sales data usually exists at different stages:

  • Bank Balances: “We know the money's there and that’s all”
  • Spreadsheets: “We have some data in spreadsheets that are becoming overwhelming to update”
  • Accounting: “We use an accounting system like Xero, but it’s not up to date”
  • Current: “We have all of our taxes filed, a good set of financial data but want to plan for the future”
  • Forecasting: “We have good financial data that we use to feed into our budgets that let us set our course for the future”

I strive to move clients up that continuum as each move up the ladder seems to reduce stress, free up owner time and reduce surprises such as large unforeseen tax bills, lost customer orders or out of control expenses.

What products do you depend on to run your business?

I use Xero or Quickbooks online as the anchor for each client and my own financials. Its the hub and then other software feeds data into or out of those systems. Bill.com collects invoices and pays bills, Earth Class Mail digitizes paper mail and deposits checks, Receipt Bank and Hubdoc collect electronic receipts, Zen Payroll simplifies wages, and Habitrpg is a fun way to keep myself on task.

Any closing thoughts for our readers?

Its harder to rewind established business systems once a business grows, so think ahead to if what you do today will still work if your order numbers grow ten times, or if your business moves. Last, in terms of mail, the IRS and many other tax agencies will only send you physical mail. Are those the things that you want at the top or bottom of your inbox?

Thanks!

--

In closing - Avery's had great success optimizing his accounting workflow with Earth Class Mail. Our favorite quote from the interview:

"If a client isn't using Earth Class Mail, I feel like I'm taking a giant step backwards."

If you'd like to take your accounting practice to the next level like Avery, sign up for an Earth Class Mail account today.

What's new with ECM?

Welcome to the new Earth Class Mail!

Hi, Doug Breaker here, new CEO of Earth Class Mail. A lot has changed at Earth Class Mail in the last few months and I wanted to take the time to share everything with you. Before I get into that, I want to say thank you to all our current customers. Your support over the years made Earth Class Mail what it is today and we’re excited to continue providing you the fanatical level of service you’ve come to expect.

Here is a recap of the past few months:

  • The Earth Class Mail service you have come to know and love is now Earth Class Mail, Inc. This follows the swift completion of a Chapter 11 process which ended in June of this year. With this comes an influx of new team members, and new owners from Xenon Ventures. Xenon invests in cool tech teams and great companies--and contributes time, talent and experience to help businesses grow to their fullest potential. You may recognize some of the other Xenon companies - RightSignature.com, Filepicker.com, GetCloudApp.com and Followup.cc. What does this mean for you? A better product, more features, better support, and a better all around experience.
  • We're extremely excited to have Jonathan Siegel and Lew Moorman from Xenon advising and investing in us. Jonathan’s a long-time Earth Class Mail customer, and a proven tech entrepreneur and investor. Lew brings over a decade of experience from his role as President of Rackspace. Both plan to offer heavy doses of guidance as we continue to craft Earth Class Mail into a company that serves you better.
  • I have joined the company as CEO. I've spent the last 6 1/2 years at HomeFinder.com, the last 4 as CEO. Why did I make the jump? I love helping businesses succeed, and find great joy in turning inefficient, error prone processes into elegant, foolproof products. Instead of feeling the pain of dealing with physical mail, we can give consumers and businesses moments of joy as we make the process easy, mistake-proof, and efficient.
  • We've updated our brand to better represent who we are, who we want to help, and how we'll do that. Check out our new website, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
  • We've introduced a new help center (help.earthclassmail.com), upgraded our customer support tools and introduced better internal reporting so that we can keep a close eye on the level of service we provide customers.
  • New customers can choose from simplified pricing. Current customers keep their existing pricing, or can choose one of our new plans if they'd like.
  • You'll start to see improvements in how we support you, and in the value we offer you. We're committed to being a great partner, and will do whatever it takes to be that.

As you can see, it’s been a busy few months!

Next, I’d like to talk about our commitment to you going forward. As a customer, you'll continue to receive the high level of service that you’ve come to expect from Earth Class Mail. We’ll also be making many improvements in our product and service over the coming months. They won't happen immediately, but they will happen. Our team is hard at work making Earth Class Mail more valuable, more useful, and easier to use. If you have questions or feedback on how we can make your life easier, email me via doug at earthclassmail.com.

Finally, to show you how we’re executing on our commitment to help make your life easier, I’m excited to to announce two new features that we’ve just finished putting the final touches on:

  • Cloud storage: This new feature allows you to send all your documents to Google Drive, Box.com, and Dropbox. Now it's a snap to get your physical mail stored in the same place as all your other documents. Read more >>
  • Full-text search support: Search through your physical mail as easily as you do your email. We run all mail through full OCR (Optical Character Recognition), which means you can search in the documents we deliver to you. Read more >>

I hope these new features save you a bit of time, and make things easier for you. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Earth Class Mail, and the value that we can provide to our customers. It’s going to be a fun ride.