Back in the 1990s, Finland was discussed ad nauseam in New Zealand as the “why aren’t we like them?” economic model. One of the main arguments was that having a large, successful local technology company (in Finland’s case Nokia) would spawn other successful companies.
Nokia may no longer be the technology darling it was (though Finland did give us Angry Birds), but the idea that innovative companies sprout other innovative companies is right – and New Zealand’s Xero is top off the tree.
Part of the phenomenon is the availability of Xero’s cloud technology. Disruptive accounting firms have seen opportunities arise in the market, creating new services simply because of Xero’s existence. They’re not off-shoots of Xero, but rather independent accounting practices that on-sell Xero to their small business clients.
It’s a list that includes RightWay, the Martinborough-based accounting firm founded by Greg Sheehan, the former CFO for Air New Zealand and Nike, and Xero co-founder Hamish Edwards. RightWay has grown from four staff to 40 in three years, has set up an Australian operation, and is looking for more than $1.5 million in investment capital.
Just as interesting are the Xero spin-off apps and partner companies. Since 2012, the number of partners Xero works with has more than quadrupled, and there are now 350 or so partners and 400 add-ons. That’s an explosion of growth not only for Xero, but also for every other possible industry you can think of.
The best known is Vend, currently New Zealand’s (self-coined) number-one online retail point-of-sale software company. Services include retail and customer management, inventory tracking and real-time reporting, and the link with Xero means all that lovely Vend data is automatically fed into your Xero system.
Here are five of the apps starting to make waves in the Xero family.
Figured on Farm
For livestock tracking and farming budgeting, and even has a finance forecasting function. The app was created by accountants who also happen to be farmers, so it knows about all the things farmers are after. The company is headed by Paul Reid, the man formerly known as the CEO of MetService.
It’s a spritz-up of the classic quotation sheet, but instead of paper or email, there’s a template allowing you to create your own quote. Messages and extra options can be included using a tick box. A slick infographic look makes it easy to see all the fiddly bits.
Chasing after money owed is not a particularly fun pastime, but getting the money in is critical to a business. Debtor Daddy contains a “Hit List” – a single screen that shows you what’s overdue and what action to take next. It makes the job of getting reminders out easier and more likely to produce the dosh. Debtor Daddy also happens to sport a bowler-hatted gentlemen with a moustache for a logo, so that’s cool.
This time tracker sprung out of a mind-numbingly boring session of end-of-month invoicing on a cold winter’s night way back in 2009, when ex-director Nik Wakelin was still a developer with a company that was later bought out by Google. Employees start the timer at the beginning of a session and log out at the end, and MinuteDock can create invoices from that information and send them straight to Xero.
A digital portfolio manager, it automates everything from handling dividends, share splits, capital returns and data entry of all trades to forming performance reports and contract note imports. Tony Ryburn’s the guy running the show – he’s also responsible for selling the Crown’s share in Wellington Airport. ⋅
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