Today we are happy to announce the launch of our latest investment: Marble Solar.

Marble Solar is a new business dedicated to the design and build of commercial and residential solar power panel systems. It is a collaboration between Fubra Limited and the directors of the Marble Group, a construction firm we have invested in.

Working with our friends at Bytewire over the past 2 months we have built, what I believe to be, one of the best solar PV estimation tools available online.

Step 1a – Enter your postcode

Step 1b – Draw your roof

Step 2 – View estimated income

Step 3 – Book a survey appointment

The estimator allows you to draw an outline of your roof on Google Maps, and select the orientation. It will then propose a suitably sized system for your roof, and uses either SAP 2005, or NASA solar irradiation data along with panel efficiency information to estimate the amount of electricity you could generate from the system over the course of the year. This data is combined with financial data such as Feed In Tariff rates and some assumptions on future price inflation to give you a projection of the amount of income and savings the system may generate over it’s lifetime.

For me, it’s great to see what our network of small companies can achieve when we work together.

Today we welcome Ollie Armstrong to the Fubra PHP developer team. Ollie has just finished his GCSEs, and is joining us on a 6 week placement over the summer holidays before he goes to sixth form college in September. Ollie worked for us during his Year 10 work experience when he was 14, and since then he has been learning PHP in his own time alongside his studies.

Last week he took his PHP 5.3 Zend exam and passed, which now makes him a Zend Certified Engineer. Ollie’s 16th birthday is not until the end of July, so at just 15 years old I think he must be one of the Youngest Zend Engineers in the world. Do you know anyone younger? If so, leave us a comment.

Focused on youJoe recently posted here about us attending our first Graduate recruitment event at the University of Surrey. We are looking to recruit gradutes for the roles of developer and product manager to expand our team to grow both our network of content sites and continue to deveop our existing products such as CatN.

We have set out our stall at the Graduate fair and, for our first attempt, we’re very pleased.  If you’re a student and are thinking of attending the event drop by and have a chat.

As you might have seen from some of our blog posts last week – we had a lot of fun with all the fresh snow that arrived – but how did your business cope with the disruption to the country’s transport network? Luckily for us, as a web based company, if our staff can’t make it in to the office, they have most of the tools they need to work from home.

One tool in particular is an accounting software service that we’ve been working on for the past 18 months – it’s called Clear Books.

Traditional Accounting Software

Traditional accounting software typically provides a fairly archaic solution. Here’s the scene: You have an old windows machine in the corner of your office that has the accounting software installed on it. Your accountant or book keeper comes in every now and then to keep the system up to date. If you want some management accounts to see how your business is doing, you or someone working for you has to log on to that machine and export them. If it snows – your book keeper can’t get to the office and your accounts start gathering dust. If you are at home one evening, and you want to know how much you owe the VAT man – you have to wait until the next day to visit the office. You’ve paid a large amount up front for the privilege of installing the software, and then each year you have to pay to keep it up to date.

Traditional accounting software….

  • Comes in a box
  • Needs to be installed on a computer
  • It can only be accessed from one computer, by one person at a time
  • Has a hefty up front cost.

No Accounts Software

Some people don’t like using these old accounting software products, so they opt for an even more labour intensive approach; they get their accountant to physically collect all their invoices, and bank statements (also know as the black bin liner method), so that he can prepare their payroll, VAT and end of year accounts, and then physically deliver them back to them when he’s finished with them. This method typically gives you no ongoing picture of your businesses performance, and you have to rely on bank statements, spreadsheets or just your gut feeling to see you from year to year. Also, if you need to refer to an old document – you normally can’t because they are with your accountant.

Online Accounting

Then there is the new approach. We call this online accounting. In this scenario, the accounting software is accessed via a web browser. You don’t need to install anything on your PC.  You can view your accounts from any computer (PC, Mac, Linux) with an Internet connection. So can your accountant or book keeper, so he/she no longer has to drive to your office. You and your business partners can be accessing the software at the same time, from any where in the world. There are no major up front costs, you just pay a small monthly subscription – and regular software updates are included as part of this. The software automatically generates your VAT returns each quarter, and lets you file them with HMRC with a few clicks of the mouse.

Online accounting software….

  • Can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection and a web browser.
  • Requires no software installation, updates or upgrades.
  • Has a low monthly cost, with no up front fees.

If this sounds like something you want to know more about, you might want to read my 10 reasons to use Clear Books post.

At Fubra we love the snow. When it snowed last year in February one of our Directors even skied into work (lucky for him, his house is at the top of a hill, and our office is at the bottom). So this year, with the arrival of  up to 40cms of snow in some parts of the South, we decided to build an igloo in our office car park.

The following video shows you the construction process and some of the problems we encountered while building our snow house:

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