scredScred, a Finnish company building tools and services to help friends, groups and communities manage their money, has released a new version of their service. Before Scred enabled me to track debts and share expenses in multiple currencies. I found the basic Scred service already useful in sharing expenses with my flat mates. Now Scred has come out with a new version of their service, which has a set of new features that take the service to a whole new level.

They have introduced MiniCorps, which are in essence platforms for small businesses in and of themselves. After one creates a MiniCorp for herself she can 1) sell stuff and receive donations, 2) calculate profit and loss, and 3) track expenses and income. This can be an ideal tool for bands, event organizers and various hobby groups, for- and non-profit.

MiniCorps

With MiniCorps one can add merchandise for sale at a store that one has created under Scred’s site. And since these fully functioning platforms for light businesses use PayPal for money transfers, they are as international as any business. Even an early stage e-commerce startup could operate just using a MiniCorp without any other online property.

The new release has also a seemingly improved user interface which is a lot clearer and more intuitive than the older one, even though it still feels like the service has only wire frames without any input from a real graphic designer. That said, it does not bother you much, but rather gives the service a distinct look.

In effect, the new release let’s me live without touching Excel sheets ever again. At least in theory. Even though MiniCorps can be seen as very light businesses, money does not flow through Scred and Scred accepts no responsibility for any delivered goods as the transaction is completely between the buyer and one’s MiniCorp. This makes the Scred 2.0 a new type of centralized accounting tool for small businesses. One could argue that MiniCorp is a grass roots version of Fruugo, which operates under Scred’s domain.

Scred plans to introduce more features to the new version including statistics to be able to more closely follow MiniCorp sales and compare one’s sales to other MiniCorps’ sales figures. Similarly, Scred plans to integrate the service into ticketing services, t-shirts providers and other stores. Scred will also integrate its own ticketing service to MiniCorps and introduce an open API. If running a business can be a social object, Scred’s enabling just that. They will make it possible to take your business into new contexts through the open API and mix it with what’s out there.

The guys behind Scred are also behind the Alternative Party, which took place in Helsinki, Finland last October and will again this year. This has given Scred the inside view on what works and what doesn’t work in ticketing services and what kind of tools work and don’t work for event organizers.

Event organizers aside, I believe the service could have much farther reaching impact on the economy and creativity. For one this gives me an ability to test out a business idea with zero cost. Say for example, I want to start selling poems after I got inspired by a song on the radio and I have all afternoon free. Normally, I would just bury the idea and put it away as one of those quirky little ideas that would been fun to do. Now, with MiniCorps I can set up business around it with zero cost in an hour or two. And since the money goes through PayPal, you don’t even need a bank account. Say you’re selling poems or t-shirts. It’s pretty damn good check on whether your idea is any good to see how fast you reach the level that the tax authority thinks the money you make is ‘significant’. When they do,  you have a very pleasant problem to deal with -incorporate a real business and start paying taxes since the market is hungry for your product. And until you hit that water mark, you can spend all your PayPal credit on iTunes or whatever it might be that you’d like to buy online. This is major deal and could bring a lot more creative business ideas into life!

Yes, it is already possible to set up a e-commerce business, even rather easily if you’re a tech savvy person who’s also into accounting, but for most people it’s way too complicated to see through the effort if they just want to experiment with a fun idea. All the different parts you need to make work together have not been brought under the same hood until now.

What I’d love to see Scred do next is make it as easy (two clicks and done?) to incorporate a business if my idea really takes off. Or I could start by incorporating my business through Scred insteand of going through the government paper war if I know I’m in it for the long term and only as soon as I hit the 8500EUR water mark* with my sales, I could register with the tax officials (again with two clicks?). To do this, Scred would naturally need the goverment officials to co-operate, but now that all the countries are ready to stand on their head to get ahead on the global competitivenes rankings I’d think they would be lining up behind Scred’s front door to enlist. In effect, Scred has the window to finnish what PayPal started but did not finnish, namely setting up and running a business in Internet ‘with two clicks’.

Now, there could be even bigger impact hidden here. Imagine if you could introduce this system to a developing country where setting up a bank account is possible only for the richest 20% or less. Assuming an Internet connection via say an Internet Cafe, Scred together with PayPal could help many people start experimenting with their creative ideas that could turn into a real businesses.  I’ll stop here, but you see where I’m going with this. Scred might just be onto something big here.

If this not promising enough, the cherry on top is the team behind the concept. They are among the most committed people in the game on this side of Atlantic and based on the results so far the execution is there as well. If you didn’t get to invest in Skype and Spotify, don’t miss out on Scred.

The service is till in closed beta, but we have 50 beta invites for our readers. When you sign up to Scred type in ‘AS50’ when you’re creating a MiniCorp.

*In Finland you don’t need to report revenue to tax authorities if your company sales are less than 8500EUR per annum.

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