Small business owners have to plenty to worry about as they start and grow their businesses. Lil Roberts wants to ensure that they at least don’t have to worry about bookkeeping.
Roberts, a South Florida native and serial entrepreneur, started the Fort Lauderdale-based online accounting service Xendoo in 2017 with co-founder Steven Gelley. Xendoo aims to simplify accounting and bookkeeping for small businesses with less than 20 employees, regardless of revenue. It targets brick-and-mortar stores, such as “dry cleaners, mini marts, hospitality, sub shops, pizza shops, fitness places,” Roberts said.
Roberts wants bookkeeping to stop being a “dirty word.”
“We’re changing [bookkeeping] from being a horrible, frustrating, difficult experience to an experience for the small business owner that is useful as a tool to build a business,” she said. Roberts is no stranger to bookkeeping for a small business, as she has built and exited several businesses over the years. Before starting Xendoo, she exited her last venture, a Broward-based print manufacturing business called ThinkPrint.
Gelley left the company but still has an investment in the business, Roberts said. According to Gelley’s LinkedIn profile, he has since co-founded a “VIP mortgage processing service,” wemlo.
Xendoo, a cloud-based monthly subscription for bookkeeping and accounting, serves “several hundred” customers, Roberts said. Within five years, she wants to grow the company to serve 25,000 customers while reaching an annual recurring revenue of $100 million. Xendoo is on track to generate $2 million in revenue this year, she said — more than double the revenue in 2018. The company has also doubled its customers.
“We’re going to be a rocket ship,” Roberts said.
Roberts recently received some serious fuel — a $100,000 investment from Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. Xendoo won the pitch competition in Miami, competing against eight finalists.
Anna Mason, a partner with Rise of the Rest, said Roberts “stood out from the pack” during the competition. Mason said that belief in the founder is a critical piece of the puzzle when partners are deciding to invest.
Part of Xendoo’s appeal is Roberts’s desire to remove “certain critical challenges for the average small business,” Mason said.
Angel investor Jason Calacanis originally invested in Xendoo for $100,000 and will continue to contribute. And he agrees with Mason’s assessment.
“SMBs get their books wrong constantly, and this can be fatal for many,” Calacanis said in an email.
Calacanis said that while he’s not sure if Xendoo is “revolutionary,” it’s still “important, profitable and scalable — which is enough!”
Xendoo isn’t the first, and likely won’t be the last, company to take on solving accounting difficulties for small businesses. Roberts said the space is heating up, and that Xendoo’s major competitors include Bench, Pilot and ScaleFactor.
And while competition is growing, there’s more than enough room for Xendoo to excel, said Rise of the Rest’s Mason.
Not all services are the same, Roberts said.
Unlike some other companies, Xendoo does taxes for its customers. According to the Xendoo website, the “growth” and “enterprise” subscription options come with certain tax returns. Customers can also add corporate and personal tax returns to their packages for an annual fee.
“We do the complete annual life cycle for the small business,” Roberts said.
Another differentiator: pricing. Roberts said some of her competitors, like Pilot, base fees on business expense. Xendoo’s fees are based on services offered, and range from $110 to $330 a month.
Roberts and Gelley bootstrapped the company for a little over a half-million dollars before seeking investors in a pre-seed round, which brought in $1.2 million. Roberts is now fundraising for another round so she can grow her team and move into larger offices.
But as for Roberts herself, she knows she won’t be with Xendoo forever.
“The business is not you,” she said. “The business is its own living, breathing entity. And just as people raise children, when you raise a business, you have to let that business fly.”
Founders: Lillian Roberts and Steven Gelley
CEO: Lillian Roberts
Based: Fort Lauderdale
Revenue: Trending for $2 million
Milestones: Rise of the Rest Miami winner; eMerge Americas winner