Designing a Simple Solution for Receipts: A Shoeboxed Success Story

In this customer profile, you’ll meet Janine Vangool, the publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE Magazine. Learn how she uses Shoeboxed as a catchall for her receipts, allowing her to spend more time focusing on growing her business, in this Shoeboxed success story!

With Shoeboxed, there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

“I really do use Shoeboxed after what it is named: it is my catchall for business receipts that I need to save and sort later.”

-Janine Vangool

janine-vangoolIntroducing: Janine Vangool

Profession: Publisher, editor and designer of UPPERCASE Magazine

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Twitter: @uppercasemag

LinkedIn: Janine Vangool

Shoeboxed: We’re excited to chat with you, Janine! Thanks for taking the time. Let’s start with you telling us a bit about yourself and UPPERCASE.

Janine Vangool: Absolutely. I’ve been using Shoeboxed for almost a year, so I’m thrilled to share my experience! Anyway, my background is in graphic design, and nearly five years ago I founded a magazine. It started out as my own side dream project and quickly took over. UPPERCASE is a quarterly magazine for the creative and curious—our content is inspired by design, illustration and craft. We have around 3000 subscribers around the world. I’m the publisher, editor and designer. I have two employees: Jocelyn handles subscriptions and wholesale accounts and Erin does marketing and publicity.

SBX: Nothing makes us happier than seeing someone turn a side business into a full-time career, so that’s awesome. How did you get started?

19-cover-photoJV: When I was studying design in college, I always imagined someday having my own design studio. This happened a lot sooner that I thought; a few months after graduating, I started freelancing. The freelancing grew into a nice graphic design business, but after a dozen years I was looking for more of a challenge. UPPERCASE developed out of the desire to create and author my own projects.

SBX: That sounds like a natural progression, but going from a freelancer to managing your own employees can be quite a change! What’s the most stressful part of your job?

JV:  Absolutely. I’d have to say that the most stressful aspect is managing the responsibilities of the business; there are so many demands on me and my time that the actual creative aspect of the business is often lower on the priority list. I’m striving to fix that!

SBX: The administrative side of things is difficult for many of our users, so we do everything we can to ease that strain. Let’s talk about the fun side though: what’s the biggest upside to running UPPERCASE?

JV: The best part of the job is finding inspiring content and collaborating with talented people from around the world. It is very satisfying to see it all come together in print.

SBX: That must be fulfilling. We’d love to hear a bit about what you did with all your documents before Shoeboxed. How did you stay organized before using our service?

JV: In previous years, most of my bills were still the old-fashioned paper variety which were stored in their proper folder in a filing cabinet. And there they stayed until tax time! With a concerted effort this year to go paperless, my bills and receipt are primarily by email, which makes sorting and reporting so much easier.

SBX: Nice! Can you tell us about how you found out about Shoeboxed, and how you use it now?

JV: Sure. I’ve been a regular user of Evernote for many years, saving pertinent invoices and receipts into that system. Since Shoeboxed integrates with Evernote, that process is much easier. I simply use email (or the app to snap a photo) and forward my receipts to Shoeboxed. Once all of my receipts have been organized in Shoeboxed, they automatically get archived in Evernote for my own records. I also use the integration with QuickBooks Online so that my bookkeeper can easily access everything he needs.

SBX: That’s awesome! We’re so glad you’ve made our integrations a part of your workflow. If you had to sum up your Shoeboxed experience in a single sentence, what would you say?

JV: I really do use Shoeboxed after what it is named: it is my catchall for business receipts that I need to save and sort later.

Janine-Vangool-UPPERCASE-(photo-by-Heather-Saitz)-webSBX: Perfect. Would you say we make it easier for you to stay organized and/or for your business to grow? How so?

JV: Now that I’ve been using Shoeboxed for many months, it is second nature to send my receipts there. It feels good to have that organization taken care of and not be surrounded by paperwork to file. It certainly frees up more valuable time for me to take care of other aspects of growing my business.

SBX: We’re thrilled to hear that. Lastly, do you have any helpful tips for our users or small business owners that are trying to get organized?

JV: I always recommend Evernote for creative people trying to stay organized. Whether it’s a written note or a saved image, I have nearly five years worth of notes there— it is invaluable to be able to access old ideas, links you’ve saved, things that inspired then and now. It’s on my phone and my laptop; it goes everywhere my brain goes!

SBX: We love Evernote too! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Janine! We’re thrilled to be a part of your business’s growth by providing a simple solution for receipts.

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Emily at for more information.

Until next time, stay tuned… and stay organized!

An Ode to Unscannables

At Shoeboxed, we sometimes receive things besides paper clutter in our Magic Envelope– socks, loose change, hair clips and more. We call them unscannables. Here’s the story of one we got last week.

Here at Shoeboxed, we’ve seen it all. Our Magic Envelopes were designed to be large and sturdy enough to handle even the biggest piles of paper, so it’s no surprise that many of our wonderful customers use them as a catchall for cleaning out their desk or filing cabinet. Whether it’s loose change, candy, a spare sock or random office items like pens or blank post-its– you name it, we’ve probably received it in one of our envelopes. We lovingly call these items unscannables. You may remember a very special unscannable item we received back in 2011 (Hint: it’s illegal, at least here in North Carolina!). We take pride in ensuring that these items make it back to their owners every time (well, besides the above example).

The other day, among the hundreds of Magic Envelopes we received, one envelope came in that included $15 cash. So, we clipped the cash to the envelope and ensured it was sent back to the sender when we finished processing their documents. What we didn’t expect was to have the cash sent back to us! Check out the awesome return letter we received from one of our awesome customers, addressed to our Director of Operations, Sam Glover.

user letter

The entire Shoeboxed team feels incredibly honored and proud to serve awesome customers like this one. Needless to say, this letter made our day and gave us a new energy and excitement for all of the awesome things we’re working on. We have a lot of neat features coming out in the next few months, so stay tuned, and thank you all for being loyal Shoeboxers!


So Your Business is Making Money, Now What?

Your business is making money. Congratulations! Before you decide what to do next, read these four quick tips to help keep your business on track.

This post is brought to you by

Congratulations! The question now is, do you frame that first dollar or spend it? If you’re like most bootstrapped startups, you already know the answer to that one.

Now, I’m sure you didn’t start your business to try to become a full-time accountant; so now that you have income rolling in, now what?

Let’s face it: taxes are one of the most intimidating tasks involved in running a small business, and by far one of the biggest mistakes most small business owners make is they don’t take the time to put an accounting system in place to help them manage their newly found cash flow.  So to help you avoid this costly pitfall, here are four quick tips to help keep your business on track.

Get a Plan

Don’t miss the boat when it comes to your tax deductions! With over 300+ potential small business tax deductions, you certainly can’t afford to wait until the end of the year to try and determine what you can or can’t deduct. Most business owners need to go through a paradigm shift of treating their taxes as a once-a-year event into more of a year-round process. This is why having an annual tax strategy to ensure you are maximizing every possible tax deduction is crucial to ensure you are keeping as much money as legally possible.

Know Your Numbers

Having a well thought-out bookkeeping system will do two things for your business. (1) Strictly from an operational standpoint, it will help you save money. Understanding your cash-flow is just good business. Each month you should be reviewing your Profit and Loss Statement in addition to your Balance Sheet to keep a finger on the pulse of your business. (2) It will help you stay in compliance. As a business owner, the IRS puts what is called the “Burden of Proof” on you, so basically it is your job to be able to prove your income and expenses. Not to mention good bookkeeping is the best defense against an audit.

Know What and When to File

Your tax requirements largely depend on the legal structure of your business, so whether you operate as a sole proprietor, LLC, S Corporation or C Corporation, your filing requirements will vary. In addition to your personal and business taxes required by the federal government, you will also have to pay some state and local taxes. Take the time to understand what your business is required to file and when. This will help you avoid any costly penalties and interest not only with the IRS but also with your state. The SBA provides a resource here for each state’s tax filing requirements for small business owners.

Ask Questions

In business, you never know when you might need advice, so make sure it’s easily accessible. Most small business owners do not have the tax knowledge they need to understand every aspect of the tax code, so putting a professional accountant on your team will pay dividends.  It all goes back to grade school: “the only dumb question is the one that you don’t ask.”

Zach Olson is the CEO at  Tax Alli is the leading provider of online tax and accounting services for small business owners. By capitalizing on the convenience and power of the web Tax Alli is changing the way small business owners manage their tax planning, bookkeeping & tax preparation needs.