"They’ve made the same mistake they always make," says Jackson, who founded his accountancy software firm in 2006. "They’ve designed their product for accountants, not small business owners."
Kashflow Software targets start-ups and SMEs with its intuitive, jargon-free product. After having a little play with Sage’s version, Jackson found SageLive distinctly lacking: "One of the first things I try with a new accounting product is to create an invoice. I couldn’t quickly work out how to with SageLive – it’s definitely lacking the intuitiveness of KashFlow and other web-based apps.
"It suffers from the same problem as all of Sage’s products – it’s obviously designed by people that have never run a small business. It looks really good and it sounds really good, but a scratch of the surface shows it simply doesn’t deliver the goods."
The discovery was a relief to Jackson who admits he was slightly rattled by the news that Sage was planning to launch SageLive as early as January. "I didn’t think they’d have a product for at least another year," he admits. "But they’ve been quietly working on it for 18 months."
Kashflow’s turnover is currently approaching a million, and Jackson sees no reason why growth should be curtailed. "We won’t lose any customers to Sage," he says. In fact, the young entrepreneur believes that by entering the marketplace, Sage is simply raising the profile of all web-based accounting programmes. "That can only be good for business," he says.
Duane Jackson was short-listed for the Young Entrepreneur category in our Growing Business Awards last week.