Sprout Apps will soon be launching a suite of business apps targeted at WordPress freelancers and small businesses. WordPress developer Daniel Cameron is behind the project, which is centered around creating plugins that help business owners work more efficiently with WordPress. Sprout Apps aims to bring tasks like invoicing, estimates, and client tracking into the admin.
Cameron is the creator of Smart eCart, a popular solution for daily deals, crowdfunding and social commerce. For five years he has supported and maintained the plugin, which was originally created for a client project. With the desire to venture out and create something new, Cameron has soft-launched Sprout Apps, starting with Sprout Invoices, now available for purchase.
Sprout Invoicing is an idea that Cameron had cooked up year ago but was hesitant about, due to the fact that other plugin developers had explored it without much success.
“I went back to my original idea that I had years ago, which was a new invoicing app that solved all the problems I’ve had with Freshbooks and Harvest,” he said. “I knew there were already plugins out there which made me reluctant to pursue it further, regardless if their approach was wrong in my opinion.”
Sprout Invoicing Aims to Help Streamline and Brand All Client Communications
In order to sell his product, Cameron will have to convince business owners of the value in using a WordPress-powered invoicing system instead of the many standalone services. He’s counting on customers’ desire to streamline all aspects of their businesses.
“Those other standalone services are silo’d, expensive, limiting and offer limited customization for brand integrity,” Cameron contends. “I want to streamline the estimate and invoicing process. Integrating it within the site that already has the estimate request (contact form) helps tremendously.”
In addition to fully automating estimating and invoicing, the app is designed to help business owners overcome the branding limitations of popular invoicing services, which generally only let you upload a logo to a subdomain. The freedom to fully brand all client communications is a big win for small businesses.
“Sprout Invoice notification emails are sent from your server and your from address,” Cameron said. “No more http://yoursite.harvestbooks.com with a ‘Powered by A Service I Pay For’.”
The invoicing app is built with business owner’s needs in mind. It’s packed full of dashboards and charts, summaries, and dynamic reporting that can be easily sorted and filtered in the WordPress admin.
Under the hood, Sprout Invoices is a WordPress plugin that uses custom post types, post meta and taxonomies for its data structure. “There are no additional tables created. The entire code base adheres to WordPress coding practices,” Cameron told the Tavern. “There’s hundreds of hooks and filters in SI, I want the entire app to be customizable and I anticipate it’s users to want more control than traditional WP users.”
The apps he plans to build are actually WordPress plugins, though he felt that apps was a more applicable term. “I didn’t want to go with ‘Sprout plugins,’ for example, because I do have ideas that aren’t plugins and I didn’t want to box myself in,” he said. “I also think ‘Apps’ is a better term for these larger premium plugins since they offer more than a traditional plugin that might filter post content.”
Sprout’s next app will be a CRM, followed by a team-based app. Cameron is also considering a PM app and a time tracker, depending on how sales go with the invoicing app. Pricing for Sprouts Invoicing is similar to that of popular invoicing services, with both monthly and yearly subscription rates at $5 and $9 respectively. Subscribers will receive updates, support and add-on discounts. Cameron also plans to launch a free version of the invoicing app later this year.
Sprout Apps is built on the bold premise that your WordPress site can be more than just the marketing face of your business. It can also power the daily tasks of estimating work, billing clients, and charting progress. Cameron is aiming to provide all the business essentials with the added benefit of brand independence, a streamlined workflow, and total control. He’s got a big vision to create a superior suite of apps that will support the many freelancers and small businesses that make up a large segment of the WordPress ecosystem.
Sprout Apps is currently in pre-launch mode and will officially launch at WordCamp LA in early September. A live demo of the app is available to preview and pre-launch subscribers will receive a discount at purchase.