The internet is bulging with business websites—and many just sit there in cyberspace accomplishing very little. In 2000, three Kiwi guys decided to do something about that. Their company, Zeald.com, helps organisations develop websites that generate real results
Hayes Knight business advisor Tristan Dean (right) is an excellent sounding board says Zeald chief executive David Kelly - photo: Simon Young
Specialising in innovative website design, e-commerce web development and hosting, Zeald is going places. In just ten years, it’s become the market leader in website development, and the founding team of David and Brent Kelly and their cousin Hamish Braddick now employs 50 staff.
Zeald has enjoyed over 400percent growth in turnover in the last five years and has won a stash of business awards. And it’s still going strong, adding an average of two new websites a day to the 3,000 already under its belt. Hayes Knight business advisory director Tristan Dean had been quietly following Zeald’s progress and was suitably impressed.
“We saw Zeald as a very dynamic company with a big future and we wanted to be involved,” he says. As it happened, Zeald chief executive David Kelly had also been hearing good things about Hayes Knight, and by 2006 his company had grown to the point where it needed an extra level of accounting guidance.
“The Hayes Knight name had come up a number of times, so we went and checked them out and we liked what we saw,” says Kelly.
While Zeald’s in-house accounts team takes care of the month-on-month cashflow planning and GST returns, Hayes Knight carries out its year-end accounting and tax planning. The accountancy firm has also helped to simplify and enhance some of the accounting systems previously being used by Zeald, and worked in other areas such as restructuring the company to prepare for expansion offshore, completing company and IP valuations, and providing tax advice.
Hayes Knight has also provided crucial advice on understanding, measuring and controlling profitability and structuring Zeald’s financial systems to accurately report on profitability.
On a more personal level, Kelly says Dean acts as a valuable sounding board for the Zeald directors, and his pragmatic approach is much appreciated.
“Tristan has an excellent understanding of technology and new thinking, which has been very helpful,” Kelly says. “Not only is he very practical and easy to relate to, but he gets where I’m coming from really quickly, which makes things smooth sailing.
“Hayes Knight wants things to deliver benefit to the business and if they can’t see a compelling reason why something should be done, then they won’t do it. For us, that’s probably the most valuable thing about working with them.”
Zeald’s rapid growth over the last decade has presented some cashflow issues, so the challenge for Kelly and Dean has been around funding the growth and ensuring the administration systems and procedures expand to cope with the volume of business.
“You become accustomed to running a company at a certain size, and when it triples, what used to be adequate is no longer enough,” says Kelly. “Hayes Knight has been really good at putting the right systems in place for us. In many areas of business, we’ve found out the hard way, but in terms of our financial advice from Hayes Knight, I feel like we got a hole in one, really.”
This was certainly the case when Zeald branched into Australia in 2010. Hayes Knight was integral in setting up the structures for this expansion and Zeald now uses Hayes Knight’s Australian office to work with its entity across the Tasman—something Kelly says is testament to how much Zeald values the company.
And the respect goes both ways.
“Zeald is passionate about providing a top-quality product that get results and they truly believe in what they are doing,” says Dean. “They’ve evolved a lot over the years, from a small company with a basic structure to a group of companies that are now well structured for expansion into other countries. Zeald’s marketing processes are excellent and they back this up with service. They’ve taken a dominant position in the market and we expect big things from them in the future. “I’ve worked with some highly successful young
entrepreneurs in the past. When I met David Kelly he struck me as having similar traits to guys who’ve done very well in business. One of my first impressions of both David and Zeald was that this was a company to watch—I always expected they would be very successful.”