Phong Le – Underdogs disrupting and challenging the big players

Today I am speaking with Phong Le Head of Growth APAC from Expensify the only expense claims and management tool built for companies of all sizes, from solopreneurs to the Fortune 500.

This week’s episode took an interesting turn; we started talking about Muhammed Ali and Manny Pacquiao who are athletes, that inspire Phong, because they stand up for what they believe in, and have overcome so much. Phong feels that this somewhat aligns with Expensify, the underdogs disrupting and challenging the existing inefficient pre accounting and expense management business processes.

We also discussed preaccounting, what it is, how to identify and diagnose preaccounting inefficiencies, how to optimise clients’ preaccounting workflows and processes.

And it was interesting to hear Phong’s insights on different definitions of small business sizes across the world. I know the size definition of a small business was something that fascinated me when I started out.

Heather Smith:        Thank you very much, Phong, for joining me and our Cloud Stories listeners today. Can I start by asking you, who is your favourite superhero and why?

Phong Le:                Oh my gosh, that’s a really tough question. I actually don’t really have a favourite superhero, to be honest. Yeah, I do enjoy Marvel films and you know, the Batman series and whatnot. But, I would say that if I enjoyed someone who is somewhat like a superhero, I would really idolised Muhammad Ali or Manny Pacquiao. And, if we just talk about Mohammed Ali for a sec, why I kind of view him as a superhero, in reality, is that he overcame so much. He stood up for something that he believed, and he was a world champion and, as you know, we know each other pretty well. I’m a big boxing fan. And, every time he is victorious, I feel somewhat a part of that victory as well. So, he really inspires me. So, that is my superhero in reality.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. No, he did. He achieved so much within the ring, and outside the ring, and did inspire so many people. So, I think that is a sensational superhero to admire and align yourself with. I didn’t know the other person, but I presumed he was a boxer too.

Phong Le:                Yeah, I think that’s … Yeah, I’m a big boxing fan. Manny Pacquiao is the modern day; I would say a Muhammad Ali. But, more like really relevant to I guess like the Pacific region, Asia Pacific. He’s out of the Philippines, and he was in a similar kind of a thread. He came out of poverty. He lifted his nation up, he stood for things that he believed in, and he fought with the ferocity that very few a see. And so, I just think I’m attracted to people who stand up for what they believe and are willing to fight for it. And so, both Manny Pacquiao and Muhammad Ali kind of fall in that realm. So, beyond human.

Heather Smith:        With your interest or passion about boxing, have you taken what you get from boxing and brought it into your career?

Phong Le:                I would like to say that it’s inspired me to that level. If I look at what we’re doing, here in Expensify for example, you know, being a tech company, being from San Francisco, being a disruptor, you’re really challenging. I guess like, really challenging the system, or you’re really challenging the way people have done things forever. And, in our scenario you know, people are using paper or like these outdated systems. And, so we are really are the underdog because we’re coming in with this new concept. You know, taking a picture of a receipt when the iPhone first came out and like doing something with that. Automating things. And, so it is in a sense that we are kind of like, we have this battle, and we’ve done pretty well at it. But, I guess like, that’s where I’ve drawn inspiration from the likes of the Mannys and the Mohammeds and really kind of taken that into my career as well, like really trying to be that disruptor and take on the big dogs.

Heather Smith:        Excellent. I really love that analogy that you have brought to that, and it is nice to align and to have someone to almost talk to when you’re customer facing or your client facing in terms of who’s drawing the inspiration from. So, I really liked that. So, another thing about you Phong is that you really love travelling to unique places in the world. So, can you share with us one of those destinations that we should know about?

Phong Le:                There’s a few. There’s some pretty memorable moments with … I think when you interviewed with David Barrett, he did mention that we do this annual thing called Offshore.

Heather Smith:        Yes.

Phong Le:                Where we go as a company. So, I think this year we’re going to Italy, there’s about 200 of us, you know, employees and partners, and also family … Children I should say. And, the year before we all went to Uruguay and I had never … It wasn’t in my mind to ever go to Uruguay. Argentina, yes. Brazil, yes. But, Uruguay is like a small little country in between them two. And, so we did offshore there, and it was fantastic. It was this place that I would never have gone to. And then our people team, the team that organises all this, came up with this brilliant idea to basically book out this hotel that took about 40 years to build on the cliff of one of the most, I guess like, go to places in Uruguay.

Phong Le:                So, it took 30, 40 years to build this hotel. We booked it out. We had these ocean views, and we just, all, all of us including my wife, we were all there working all day and then socialising at night, or maybe all night. And, then doing these amazing things. And, what took that to another level is that we have this thing in that week called fancy dinner, we call it Fancy Week. And, there’s a fancy night. And, it’s really inconvenient in a sense that it’s always midweek, so it’s really tiring the next day. However, we all got bused on these buses, and we all hopped on, all of us, and we got bused out to the middle of nowhere. It took about two hours to get there. And, then when we got there, we entered this small little town, like dirt roads right in the middle of Europe somewhere. It was surrounded by olive fields.

Phong Le:                And, then we got there, and it was just a few small buildings and dirt roads. And, then it was all blocked off. And, in the middle of the dirt roads these chefs were cooking these amazing meals right in the road. And, we had these tables all lined up just for us. And, there was a restaurant there in the middle of nowhere by this famous chef. And, you’ll probably hear about him on Chef’s Table. And, so basically they surprise us with this amazing experience. We would never have gone to this restaurant. Eating in a small town, which we pretty much took over and on the road as well, all 200 of us. And, that was one epic experience. And, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that without Expensify, so it was a real treasure of an experience.

Heather Smith:        Wow. That just sounds absolutely amazing. And, it’s interesting both, it’s aligning with your passion for travel, but I was speaking with people yesterday, and they were saying how Seek, which is the Australian job recruitment website or platform, saying how that they can see that there is a need for 900 Java developers just here in Australia alone. Like it has dropped in one year. And, that’s just Java. So, that’s not even talking about the developers in other languages. And that companies actually need to do something more to attract and retain staff who actually want to stay.

Heather Smith:        And, so sort of Expensify offering this amazing experience, which actually … So for all the software developers listening, thinking, “Oh, maybe that’s where I should be sort of working or aligning myself with.” Because, to attract talent these days, you need to offer that experience. That was amazing. Thank you for sharing that.

Phong Le:                No worries.

Heather Smith:        So, Phong you are the Head of Growth APAC at Expensify. So what does that role involve?

Phong Le:                That’s a role that I’m still learning about every day, to be totally honest with you. It’s a … Well, maybe just to give you a bit of kind of background into what we’re trying to achieve here in APAC, and then I kind of fit in that piece somewhere. But, basically about close to two to three years ago now, we made our base in Melbourne. And, there was an incredible need for a tool like Expensify, which really automates the whole expense management process. Because buying large most people still use Excel out here. And, so we came here. We had already partners out here like Xero and so forth into it, and so as soon as we got out here, this incredible opportunity just open up, whether that’s working with more partners, or just customers, or accountants really working with us and bookkeepers.

Phong Le:                And, so my job is really working with our team in assessing. We kind of like prioritise and, really kind of attack the right opportunities at the right time. And. so the team, myself, we all kind of work in growth. I was just really lucky enough to be the first one hired out of the sales team here, and so I’ve been on the ground a little bit longer, and kind of just going, “Hey, I think we’ve tried that before, how about this?” And, then really kind of working with a team to execute on what the, I guess the most valuable opportunities are at the time.

Heather Smith:        Excellent. So, remind me, how long have you been with Expensify then?

Phong Le:                I’ve been with Expensify for two years.

Heather Smith:        Two years. And, what is your vantage or insight into the APAC region? Where do you think it’s fitting globally?

Phong Le:                That was a great question, and it’s really strange because I think that when we first … I guess like being to America a lot, and obviously with Australia to watch American TV a lot and movies, and then we just think that it’s kind of, it’s all similar. We all were Westerners; we speak English for the most part, you know, etc. And, so you think that when you go into like a market like Asia Pacific, or Australia, or New Zealand, it’s going to be fairly similar to how the market works and so forth. There’s a lot of American companies here, but what we learnt that some of the big differences is that a small business in America, for example, or medium-sized business in America is a completely different size. It’s actually very large to small and medium-sized business in Australia and New Zealand, and also the rest of APAC, Asia Pacific.

Phong Le:                And, so that was a big learning, a big difference. And, so for us, it’s really going, “Okay, so then how do we actually communicate our value to these customers, how do we address them, how do we understand their problems?” And, because our product can … The great thing about our product is that it actually is designed for everyone from a solo-preneur up into like an enterprise company. We just work a lot with some enterprise companies, and then we take what the innovations we build for them, and then we make it available all the way through to the solar printer. And, so for us it was really changing the message to address this specific market, which is really about 70 percent of the Australia or Asia Pacific market.

Heather Smith:        That’s really interesting. It’s really interesting how you identified that small business size is actually so different globally to everywhere. Which, yeah, I would completely agree with that as well.

Phong Le:                Yeah. And, I think that’s the … like in Australia, like we really champion the small business, and obviously, in the US, it’s like that. And, in Europe it’s like that, and everywhere it’s like that. But, in Australia we have that underdog mentality. I guess that’s why I like the Manny Pacquiaos and the Muhammad Alis, like we really, we want to get around our small businesses, we want to support them, we want to work with them. And, so it’s a really strong community here. And so, you know, the product Expensify is already there. We didn’t really have to change it for this market at all. It’s really just kind of shaping the message and going, “Hey, we work with the Mom and Pop down the road. We work with the midsize, we work all these different sizes.” And, so that’s been really favourable for us.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. And, I think that Australia has really excelled in the freelance, which I’ve come to terms with that I don’t need to grow to actually be successful. And, to come to terms with you can be a single person actually successfully running a business, which Australia tax laws make it quite nice to do that.

Phong Le:                Absolutely.

Heather Smith:        So, what does a typical day look like for your Phong?

Phong Le:                Wow, okay. That’s a great question. I listened to a couple of different of your podcasts obviously, and I always see that you throw people curve balls.

Heather Smith:        It shouldn’t … What your day looks like, shouldn’t be a curve ball, because it’s part of your day.

Phong Le:                Sometimes I don’t know. That’s the scary part.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, that’s fair enough.

Phong Le:                But, I think like for today, for this week, there’s always, you know, I’m a really early riser. I know you get up about four or 4:30 every day.

Heather Smith:        Yeah.

Phong Le:                I’m a super early riser as well. I get up early. We sync a lot within the team. We’ve got a lot of communication amongst ourselves, amongst our different offices, and so my morning is primarily filled with communicating or catching up with my colleagues and getting on the same page. And, then from there, it’s really okay whether that’s email, that’s where I spend a lot of time on calls with clients or partners. That’s also another chunk of my time. And, then actually then nailing down, “Okay, what’s next? A presentation coming up, what’s our plan for that?” etc. Etc.

Phong Le:                And, so each day varies quite a bit. And, like today I’m speaking to you. Tomorrow we’ve got some filming. There’s a lot of variation, but I think that’s … It is actually quite exciting because there is a diverse set of tasks and priorities that we have, which is really, I think that’s a … It’s kind of like self-driven as well, so it changes from day to day, but it’s really, it’s quite exciting to work in this place because of how dynamic it is.

Heather Smith:        Yeah. Fantastic. You talked about communicating with your international colleagues. What tools do you use for that?

Phong Le:                I think a big one is Slack for sure. Slack is so fun to use, and we’re constantly talking. So, Slack is a big one. Zoom is another big one. Obviously then we’ve got all the Google. We use the Google Suite quite a lot as well. And, so generally they’re the major ones that we deal with.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. So, we have touched on what Expensify does, but for someone who’s not familiar with Expensify,  can you share with us the problem that Expensify solves, and how you would explain expensive it to someone?

Phong Le:                Sure. So, we for the listeners that don’t know much about Expensify, we’ve been around for about ten years now. We had our ten-year anniversary this year, which is fantastic. The last ten years, what we’ve really been doing is focusing on solving this problem of preaccounting. And, so what preaccounting is, is really the collection, coding, and normalising of financial data, right? And, so that it’s ready for accounting. So, it’s preaccounting.

Phong Le:                And, so what that really means is that, you know, if you’re collecting receipts, if you’ve got a manual process, if something’s a bottleneck in that process in terms of your financial information, in terms of expenses, Expensify can automate that whole process. And, so the way I like to explain it is Expensify, we do expense reports that don’t suck. Buying larger they do. So, we do them, and we make sure they don’t suck. And, the way we do that is we automate the whole expense management process from end to end, so that all you do, you take a picture of an expense and then boom, it gets automated. You don’t have to think about it; you’d have the check in about it, and then basically it’s done. It’s out of your life. Thank goodness.

Heather Smith:        What do you see are the big challenges businesses face dealing with preaccounting?

Phong Le:                Well, I think that’s … So, when we came here, and it’s still the case, our major competitor it’s really excel, and that’s because people rely on a really manual process. So “Hey, oh, here’s a bunch of receipts. I’ll enter into a excel spreadsheet, and then I’ll forward that by email to one manager, and then to the other manager, and then somehow upload that into like an accounting software.” So, that’s the main challenge, is getting off that process, being open to like automating something. And, I think that some people they don’t know how powerful some of these tools are, such as Expensify where by taking a picture of something, it completely resolves that.

Phong Le:                And, so there is an element of resistance to change. There is an element of not knowing what is out there, and then the most one is that when and we’re talking with accountants, bookkeepers and clients, it’s like, “Yeah, it’s a priority of mine.” That’s what they say. “It’s a priority of mine. I need to get this done. We need to get on a call. But, the reality is that it just so snowed under by it and a month it comes around, they’re just look into survive.” So, there’s also that, trying to break through that as well.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. I had breakfast with Steph Hinds from Growth Wise yesterday and, she was telling me how using Expensify in their business team, which I think is 12, I might be incorrect there. And, how it just streamlines all of their expenditure payments in their business, and just makes it so much easier. And, it’s about adoption. Adoption of this solution gives you capacity back to do other things that can earn you more money.

Phong Le:                Exactly. And, so like, I mean, like in Growth Wise’s case they’re a business of 12. So, you know, you would think that “Oh, so maybe Expensify is only a tool for businesses that large.” And yeah, there’s people on the road there, they’re travelling, they’ve got expenses, but one of my … My best buddy, he’s a sparky, so he’s got expenses from jobs, he’s buying things. Obviously he’s got to collect them. And he’s, I mean like, he’s a busy guy as well, but he’s finally come to me and goes, “Look, I just don’t know how to do this. I’ve got an excel spreadsheet, I’m holding onto receipts.”

Phong Le:                And, I’ve been working, for Expensify for while, I’ve told him about it. And, now he’s just taken Expensify. It like took him next to no time to set up just for himself, a solo-preneur. Now he just snaps a picture, and it stays in there, and it’s ready. It’s ready for tax time. And, so for him as an individual, it’s saving heaps of time. He doesn’t have to go home after a long day or before a long day, and then punch in things into an excel. And, so for him, it’s been great.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. And, you really have to get in that habit of, as soon as you get that receipt take a photograph of it. That’s my big thing. I just turn around wherever I am or lay it out on the counter and just take a photograph of it, and either give it back to the cashier or store it somewhere. However, take that photo as soon as possible.

Phong Le:                Absolutely.

Heather Smith:        So, how do businesses need to identify and diagnose their preaccounting inefficiencies, or how do you help them diagnose their inefficiencies in preaccounting?

Phong Le:                Sure. Well, I think there’s a couple of big indicators there. Definitely, if you’ve got a paper process that’s, you know … If you’ve got piles of things to do, processing, and then approved, then that’s a clear sign that maybe we should automate that. So, that’s one of them.

Phong Le:                I think that also with preaccounting, there’s a lot of what we call a lack of accountability as well. So, for those accountants and bookkeepers out there who have clients who, you know, you really, I guess like we try to describe in a sense that you’re expecting your clients to come up with the receipts, the information, since it’s their expenses, but then they always kind of point the finger back and going, “Hey, isn’t this what I pay you for you do this?” And, so there’s a lack of accountability, and then nothing gets done, and then there becomes this urgency that comes up, and then obviously all that stress and everything that’s associated with it.

Phong Le:                So, we say that if there’s a lack of accountability in the process as well, that’s another thing. And obviously a lack of urgency too. So, but it really starts off with the paper process, the manual process. And, if that is becoming a bottleneck, then I think that’s, you know, Expensify is a tool that can help with this preaccounting really automate the whole process.

Heather Smith:        Yeah. And, for people or businesses when you’re talking to them and they’re perhaps reluctant to take on this concept of new technology, sort of going in underneath and saying, “How about we just become paperless?” Seems to be an easier message for them to embrace. It’s like, “Okay, how do we become paperless? Oh, okay, we’ll adopt that technology.” But, it’s helping us become paperless and they can … The physical impact of that is massive in offices.

Phong Le:                Exactly.

Heather Smith:        And, when accountants and bookkeepers actually visit offices, they can see whether the businesses they’re dealing with are adopting … Are paperless or not paperless. And, as soon as you see files and files and boxes of receipts, you know, there’s issue in areas that can be improved.

Phong Le:                Exactly. And, so I think that’s definitely the case. I mean, I know that … Like, we talked to clients when on the road or in the office and, I know that change is scary, especially when it’s a new technology as well. And, so we try to make it easier by having obviously free trials and stuff like that. So, you can ease into it; you can try it out, you can use it. And, then obviously we go to our programmes, partner programmes and so forth, but the reality is that there is an element of like, “Let’s get our hands dirty first and play around with it.” And, then that’s how expensive it eases you into it and go, “Hey, it’s not that scary. It actually works. It actually works as advertised.” So, hopefully, that kind of eases people into it a lot easier.

Heather Smith:        So, can you explain Phong how the accountants can optimise their clients pre accounting workflows and processes? And, how involved should the accountant get in that process?

Phong Le:                Sure. So, I think really, you know, getting in terms of accountants, we work with them quite a bit. And, so really what we would say using our tool, you can really onboard a client, and then set up their coding if necessary or their workflow if necessary, or whatever kind of like if they’re big enough, whether it’s policies or any kind of rules within that workflow as well. So, Expensify is not just a system where you can capture an expense; it’s really tracking.

Phong Le:                Now, because every client is different, and they have different needs, different setup, and so Expensify would allow that accountant to really set up different workflows that are unique to each client. And, you can control this all from your one dashboard or policy page within Expensify. And, so I would say that the first point of call for accountants and bookkeepers that do want to do or to see a pre accounting problem with their clients, it’s probably a good thing to kind of reach out to us, and then we can help onboard you. We will train you and then support you. And, then really from there, it’s once you get the hang of the first one, “Okay, so this is how it works. This is how I set up, and this is how I can be curated with this piece of technology and replicate it.” And, so that’s where the excitement comes in.

Heather Smith:        The excitement in the expense managements implementation. Sensational. So how can accountants increase their return on investment by automating the expense management in their firms?

Phong Le:                Well, I think it’s time. You save time.

Heather Smith:        Yeah.

Phong Le:                You save a whole of time. And, I think like … I mean time is so valuable. I think, you know, you can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. Right?

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely.

Phong Le:                And, it’s not just that. So, that’s one element of return on investment. But, the other is I hate being frustrated and angry when something is not working, or that stress and anxiety associated with, you know, like a bottleneck or a broken process. And, so Expensify not only will save you time because it automates, but it also will release you of all that tension and frustration.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely.

Phong Le:                And, so I think that’s a big window.

Heather Smith:        Yeah. It does become an overwhelm. Like it does become an overwhelm when people stop dealing with it because it’s an overwhelming, and that gets them actually in a worse position. Yep, sorry. Sorry to interrupt you.

Phong Le:                No you’re good. I was just going to say like, my best buddy who’s the sparky. I mean, he would spend like a couple of hours doing, filling in that spreadsheet on the weekends, or whenever it was during the week. And, so now that he doesn’t have to do that, he can either go out and win more jobs, execute jobs, or just spend time relaxing. So, I mean, it’s a win, and we’ve seen it first hand many times.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s easily for every single person who adopts it, they easily save one hour in time, which is capacity that they can sure find other better things to do with their time. How does the automation and Expensify address preaccounting issues?

Phong Le:                Sure. So, I think that, well, let’s say for example, one of the issues that we see is the lack of urgency and lack of accountability in terms of, “Okay, I have an expense, now who do I give it to, my accountant, my bookkeeper, when should I give it in by?” Right? “And what method?” And, so that in itself can be a few emails, can be a few phone calls. Now, Expensify can really jump into that zone there and automate that process. So, okay, by the end of the day or by the end of the week, fortnight or month, it gets submitted automatically. No one needs to chase up anything. And, so that’s just a little example of what we do. Obviously, there’s other elements to it, but the workflow is a really powerful thing. Another thing that I would say is incredibly powerful, especially in the APAC region, is that … And, because we have so many small medium businesses out here, is that a lot of these small businesses, they use credit cards.

Heather Smith:        Yes.

Phong Le:                Corporate credit cards, company credit cards, and so we see a lot of times like the accountant, the bookkeeper downloading the statement, and then sending that out to the client, or waiting for the receipts that come in a shoe box. And, then doing a reconciliation, and then trying to figure out what each expense is related to, now you can already see there’s like six or seven steps.

Heather Smith:        Yes.

Phong Le:                Now Expensify could auto automate that reconciliation process. Fee goes into Expensify; receipt goes into Expensify. We auto reconcile, and we tell you where there is a missing receipt if there is any, and then we push it straight into your accounting software Xero or QuickBooks, etc.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. And, it’s interesting to note that the reconciliation of the individual fees can actually happen within Expensify, so you don’t need to actually do those reconciliations or have multiple bank fee reconciliations happening in the accounting solution. Which, can kind of get you … It reduces the number of transactions happening in the actual accounting solution because that side element can happen in Expensify.

Phong Le:                Exactly.

Heather Smith:        Yeah. So, do you in the business, use any other cloud apps that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Phong Le:                Cloud apps within our business specifically?

Heather Smith:        Yeah. Yeah. So, you’ve mentioned Slack, and Zoom, and G Suite, and Excel. Is there anything else that you’re using in your business that you think listeners would be interested in?

Phong Le:                Well, I can say that there’s one thing that I use in particular for myself that is quite interesting, that I’m kind of hooked on at the moment. And, so it’s a little bit more on a personal side in terms of like really measuring my time, is this thing called Rescue Time.

Heather Smith:        Yes.

Phong Le:                And, so I don’t know if you’ve heard of it before, but it actually gives you a dashboard of how you spend your time. How many hours in email for example, how many hours on your CRM tool, or whatever it may be. And, so that’s been super exciting. And, getting stats on yourself is always fun if you want to improve, or it could scare you. So, that’s been something that’s been really great for me on a professional level.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. And, and what’s it they say that if you measure something, you’re in a better position to actually improve on it. And that’s … And, it works in the background, so you actually don’t have to do anything, do you? It just keeps coming up and tell you the stats?

Phong Le:                Exactly. You got a weekly report as well. So, I think it’s Friday you get it, or maybe Sunday, or something like that. And, it’s like, “Oh, have I been affected today or have I’ve been surfing on chrome.” So …

Heather Smith:        And, is it free or are you paying? It is free, isn’t it? There is a free version?

Phong Le:                There’s a free version and the paid version, so there’s both.

Heather Smith:        Okay free and a premium. Fair enough. Fair enough. So, I was going to ask you what’s your best time saving shortcuts or life hack, but maybe you want to choose rescue time for that at the moment?

Phong Le:                Yeah, it works really well. It works really well. I also, in terms of time saving as well, I think that the other proportion of it is just being incredibly focused. So, I use Dropbox for that. I pop down my goals, and I review them so that I know how to prioritise. Because it’s a busy world right now. Busy tasks, lots of do. And so, it helps to know what you want to do.

Heather Smith:        Okay. So, you put your goals in Dropbox and review them?

Phong Le:                I do, yes.

Heather Smith:        Excellent. So, you’ve attended many conferences here in Australia over the years. What tips do you have for people who are attending conferences? We’ve got a number of conferences in the next couple of months. What tips do you have for them in terms of engaging with exhibitors such as Expensify?

Phong Le:                Yeah, I would say that I think that this is something that I’ve seen happen a lot at conferences to those who maximise their time there. I mean really, go onto the conference site, see who’s exhibiting, make a list, like a hit list almost. “Okay, so these are the kind of areas I’m interested in. These are the vendors.” And, then plan your time out, so you might only have two days there, and you’ve got a number of sessions to join as well, so in your breaks, you want to go up and talk to them. And then, so that’s how I would … That’s the advice that I would give. So, you maximise your time because once you get to a conference and let’s say it’s Xerocon coming up in September, there are so many vendors there … It’s actually … It’s so pumped, it’s so exciting, but you know, you’re there for a reason as well. So, make a list. Hopefully, it includes Expensify, and then you can swing by and say “Hi.” But, definitely, have that hit list.

Heather Smith:        Yeah, absolutely. I normally, before I go I send out an email to my clients and say, “Look, do you have any road blocks that you feel that I could potentially address.” And, send them out, let them know the conference that I’m attending and sort of the type of people that will be there. And, they’ll come back with specific questions for me that I can then go and stand in front of someone and say, “Okay, this is our current workflow. How can we improve it?” And, that just one on one time with someone I find massive, and I do spend a lot of technical time with exhibitors working through things. So, …

Phong Le:                Well I would think that you just about know everyone, on the community.

Heather Smith:        But, I did go and ask them lots of questions. And, that’s so I can know what they’re doing and how to do it. But yes, yes, absolutely. So, hopefully people will come and say hi to you and the wonderful team at Expensify at the upcoming conferences. So, thank you so much Phong for taking the time to speak with me today. How can our listeners get in contact with you and with the team at Expensify?

Phong Le:                Yeah, I mean definitely you can check us out on Twitter, our blog, you can write into us at … Or you can reach the team here, the sales team here at A multitude of ways, but of course in person’s going to be great. If you’re at any of these conferences, we exhibit at all the major ones. So, please jump on Twitter, blogs, you name it. So, we’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Follow @Expensify on Twitter, like us on Facebook (, or subscribe to our blog at For more info. to get started, contact

Heather Smith:        Sensational. Thank you so much.

Phong Le:                No worries.

I hope you enjoyed listening to that interview with Phong

In today’s show, I talked with Phong, about how accountants can increase ROI by automating expense management in their firm, and how Expensify can assist in this process.

I always find it interesting hearing about the tools other people are using

The tools Phong uses to stay connected with his remote team include Slack, Zoom, GSuite. Tools he uses personally include Rescue Time, for monitoring where his time is spent and DropBox, for storing his goals. For me personally – I use a Google Chrome extension called Momentum which is a Personalized Dashboard designed to eliminate distraction and provide inspiration, focus and productivity, and it includes a small To Do List functionality.

Finally, we shared some tips for making the most out of attending conferences.

Thank-you for listening to Cloud Stories. I hope you enjoyed the show. Can I encourage you to sign up to my newsletter, by visiting:

2018-09-19T14:11:50+00:00August 21st, 2018|0 Comments

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