Written by The Business Journal Staff
Dan Kelly, Co-founder
What we do: Provide the best nonprofit accounting software in the industry
Education: Master’s in business, Stanford Graduate School of Business; Master’s in military operational art and science; Bachelor’s of Science in mathematics, UCLA
Family: Wife Amy, daughter Delaney, sons Garrett & Luke
What niche does Aplos Software fill in the market, Dan?
Aplos provides a simple, online fund accounting software that is ideal for small nonprofits or churches that may have a non-accountant staff member or volunteer entering transactions. While most accounting software is cost-prohibitive for these smaller organizations, we decided to make ours reasonably priced, starting at only $11.99 per month.
Why did you want to aim directly for the nonprofit market, Dan?
Several years ago, my business partner was looking for an accounting product for his own nonprofit and could not find a suitable one. The nonprofit market has been historically underserved in software due to its diverse nature and undercapitalization. We saw this underserved market as a great opportunity for Aplos.
Since the company has started, how has it grown and evolved, Dan?
We started with a desktop product and a part-time team. In the last year and a half we have grown the team, raised over a million dollars in our A-round of financing, tremendously improved the product and are now offering new services and seeing a rapid growth of customers as well.
What are some of the unique needs nonprofit organizations have that the founders may not realize early on, Dan?
We initially made the software a desktop product, rather than Web-based, but during our research and development we heard horror stories of hard drives crashing or volunteers leaving their nonprofit and taking their laptop and all the financial data with them. Thankfully, we made the decision early to move to a SaaS (software as a service) model and we have never looked back because this solved a significant problem for our customer and makes them stronger and more stable as an organization.
Do you think the software and technology industries have peaked in recent years or do you think there is still more room to grow, Dan?
There is always room to grow. New technologies allow you to do neat things, but can also be used to simplify what used to be time-consuming or difficult tasks. In our long-range planning we think about how tablets, mini-tablets and phones will affect our market. I am very positive on the future of software and technology and excited to see how our software will evolve with it.
What are some things people might not know about the software industry, Dan?
It is hard to make software easy for the user. There are so many moving parts from within our own technology and the Internet that it takes a lot of intentionality, planning and trial and error to get it right.
Why is it important for your company to be a part of the Central Valley business community, Dan?
As a Central Valley native and entrepreneur, I love growing a business in the Central Valley and changing expectations by being a part of the growing technology industry in Fresno. We are also excited about being a part of overall job growth in our area, especially after our region was hit so hard in recent years.
What are some of your most memorable experiences at Aplos Software?
I will always remember our first sale — we were sitting in a Starbucks just after going live and our phones started buzzing. We ended up getting another sale that same day and we hadn’t even advertised yet. It was a great day.
What was your first job growing up and what did you learn from it?
My brother and I had a paper route. We had to collect the monthly subscriptions and turn them into the paper. One month we collected the money and spent it. Needless to say the paper, and our mom, were not very happy. It was my first accounting lesson — accounts payable.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
I like to fly and I like to camp in the Sierras with my family.