I remember sitting with Rod Drury many years ago at the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company chatting about Aftermail and what was, at the time, an idea on paper called Xero. We’ve all come a long way since then — a journey that has involved me advising and consulting to Xero along the way. Today our paths are converging again.
Group Lark has been working with Xero on advancing their marketing strategy and plotting growth here and abroad. The opportunity is nearly limitless with the majority of small businesses not using any kind of platform to grow on. With the rise of mobile to become the 1st screen we use – and the arrival of beautiful software born in the cloud, that will change. Invoicing, paying employees and suppliers, checking cash-flow – all become activities we do anywhere, anytime, anyplace on Xero. The key here is “accounting” as we knew it goes from being a dedicated task to one we complete in the flow of business – simply and easily. And we then get to collaborate without friction or cost with our advisors. That’s a beautiful thing.
We’ve been a Xero customer for years – we love it. It is elegant, always there, and always getting better.
Come November I’ll be formalising my role with Xero as their Global CMO. We’ll remain in Sydney, a city the family has come to love – and from here I’ll work closely with the Xero teams here, New Zealand, the US and UK. I’ve had plenty of opportunities come my way but few that combine the growth, global scale and maturity of business to allow me to have a real impact.
Group Lark will continue to advise and work with clients as it always has through my journey’s elsewhere. I’m loving my work with the boards of Mighty River Power, SLI, Fronde and Simple – and will continue to make a difference to the fullest extent I can across all of them.
While it feels like the Xero journey started for me sometime ago, its really just getting going. It’s going to be fun focusing my energy with such a great team on such a large opportunity.
Are you an exporter or a global company? It’s a subtle but very important difference. NZ tech companies have been confused on this one for too long.
Brand NZ does little for the NZ technology enterprise, so trying to derive some advantage in our clean, green, pure image is a waste of time. If anything it reinforces distance, remoteness and high cost. That’s not to say those values don’t work for our dominant industries – like agriculture and vodka production.
Don’t get me wrong, there is lots to love about being a NZ company with a bunch of dedicated Kiwis powered by Kiwi values. But that doesn’t mean you need to feature it.
At the end of the day, what we export in tech doesn’t weigh nearly as much – often it’s lighter than air. And more than often, while the IP is generated in NZ, the product is normally made in all the usual places. We in effect export ideas to people who make things for us and then export them to our customers who in term export the final product to their customer. You get them idea, if we are all exporters, why make the point?
Al Munroe of Next Window hits this on the head:
"It’s important that New Zealand start-ups see themselves as global companies, because it may sound good to be a leading high-tech exporter [in New Zealand] but to the rest of the world it sounds pretty naff," he said.
Monro said being a New Zealand exporter gave potential customers and investors overseas the impression that their focus and scale was at a low level.
"I rail against the term export," he said.
Asked how New Zealand start-ups could escape being categorised as lowly exporters, he said they needed to be careful how they positioned themselves.
"If you position yourself as an emerging global company, it sends a completely different message."
Next Window is poised to become to of NZ’s tech giants. (And they are a supplier to Dell.)
Xero just raised $23.2m, again proving that great ideas secure great investors. What’s interesting is that they were able to attract the founder of traditional software maker in their space – MYOB – to invest. A massive endorsement of their strategy and product.
What is really amazing is that they have passed the 6000 customer number milestone, double the customer figure at December 2008. It also announced it had entered into a strategic partnership with Telstra in Australia.
I’m thrilled to be an advisor…