Michael Armbruster-Incept 3D
How did Incept 3D get started
Incept 3D grew out of the need for a faster means of prototyping for industrial designers and engineers. I had worked for larger 3D printing companies in the past, and the bureaucracy of everything was a productivity killer. In this industry everything is needed instantly. A difference of 30 minutes can determine whether or not something will make the deadline to ship that day. That can then determine if the customer will have the samples ready for for their staff meeting. That could then determine how quickly the product will get to market. Incept 3D is there at the most critical stage of product development, the beginning (inception), when it's nothing more than idea. As silly as it sounds, the speed at which we are able to execute our side of things here is then compounded all the way down the line, and whether or not we are able to execute in that 30 minutes might change the course of our customer's product development by months. So needless to say I can't waste a lot of time generating invoices and dealing with accounting.
Tell us something about Incept3D
Our customers consist of any industrial designers or engineers who are developing any physical item. 3D printing generally isn't an efficient means of manufacturing in bulk, but before any item goes into production it needs to be tested first, and that is where 3D printing is king. Our customers send us their design, we produce it overnight, they tweak things the next day, we produce it overnight again, and repeat
How did you hear about Zoho Books?
Unlike traditional means of manufacturing, our prototyping and product development niche involves many little little transactions vs fewer larger transactions. Every transaction is unique. We are constantly generating quotes, one right after the other. As the orders come streaming in, it could quickly become a clustered mess, but thanks to Zoho it doesn't. Regardless of all the systems we have in place, managing an operation that functions off this principle of instant manufacturing (something that doesn't really exist anywhere else) is like entering a war zone every day. With all of that commotion, I simply couldn't deal with all the same complications on the bookkeeping and accounting side. I had to find a solution and QuickBooks wasn't it. Somehow I found Zoho Books. I can't remember how, and I can't remember where, but it was a game changer.
How does Zoho Books help you?
It is our accounting solution. All of our quotes and invoices are generated through Zoho Books. Many of our customers pay by credit card, and that all goes through Zoho via either Stripe or PayPal. Everything is then linked to my bank. At the end of the month I simply match everything up and take a look at my balance sheet. My company is now bigger than other companies I've worked for that have had full time bookkeepers on staff. I don't have a bookkeeper. I simply send my reports to my accountant each quarter.
How often do you use it?
Many times each hour of the day. Zoho notifies me the instant anything happens. As an example, it's very common that I'll be getting ready to start a machine, but I hear my phone beep right before I hit the button. I'll look down to see someone else made an order. I'll then add that order to the open space on the machine and begin printing both orders simultaneously.
What are the features that you make use of the most?
Certainly quoting and invoicing with regard to day-to-day use. But again, it's a full accounting solution for us here. I use it to manage all of my expenses and put together my balance sheet. The reports help me to look at things from a broader level to understand where my money is coming from and where it is going.
Any lessons for budding entrepreneurs with a unique passion (like 3D printing)?
Be prepared for a lot of hard work. Be prepared for a lot of little things that you wouldn't expect to take up your entire day. When you start your own company there isn't anyone else to do those things. If the floor gets dirty, nobody is there to clean it up at the end of the day. If you computer mouse runs out of battery, nobody is there to give you a new one. Or, to bring things full circle, if a customer needs you to send them an invoice, nobody is going to do that for you either. The biggest issues I had to deal with when starting this company had nothing to do with the complications I expected. Rather, it was all the small things that I never would have thought about that ended up taking all of my time, and time is the only thing that was stopping me. I knew what I needed to do, but I just didn't have time to do it. So I had to look for other solutions, and Zoho was one of them.