Gareth Berry has worked the past 14 years in software; the first nine for desktop accounting vendor Attaché and then for cloud software start-up Unleashed. Both companies have used resellers to sell, implement and support their software. But the types of resellers Berry now talks to are changing.
Unleashed is an inventory program from New Zealand that emerged from the same Wellington scene that fostered a bunch of software in the Xero ecosystem. Berry had quit Attaché to spend time with his first baby when Greg Murphy, a supply chain manager, asked him to help with his idea to “cloudify” inventory software.
Six months later, the first version of Unleashed launched and Berry, employee number one, swung on as CEO.
Berry had run the channel for Attaché for several years and followed a similar path for Unleashed. This time he contacted Xero’s top accounting firms, which understood the business benefits of cloud software and were comfortable recommending programs from Xero’s ecosystem to their clients.
As the demand for cloud has risen, Berry has watched new industry groups pop up, and these are the ones he wants to talk to most. “You used to talk about ISVs and VARs. Now we’re talking about cloud integrators and service providers,” Berry says.
Cloud integrators generally pick one accounting platform (Unleashed works with Xero or Intuit QuickBooks Online) and select a group of add-on programs for specific verticals. They then package solutions to target each industry.
Unleashed has 500 accountants and cloud integrators on its books, although Berry isn’t sure how many of those have emerged from the accounting industry.
The number of companies launching or rebranding as cloud integrators is picking up, Berry says. “In the last 12 months the cloud integrators are becoming more prolific. We are bringing on five integrators a month,” Berry says.
The old school of VARs and ISVs find it harder to sell the new cloud programs – because the latter work too well out of the box, Berry says. “The traditional partners are looking to add lots of value by building their own apps and adding chunky services and bespoke solutions – it becomes a bit difficult. The ones we’re looking for want to implement a solution really quickly and provide benefits.”
Cloud software is easier to get up and running. Some cloud integrators will set up Unleashed and Xero to run alongside an existing ERP to show the difference in ease of use.
In a post-iPhone world, usability in business is becoming a key selling point. The original vision for Unleashed was to build a mini-ERP but the company deliberately decided to focus on solving problems and keeping the software as light as possible, Berry says.
Unlike an ERP, Unleashed needs to attach to an accounting program. The downside of syncing two databases with different interfaces is made up for by a simpler interface in inventory. This lowers the cost of training for new employees and makes it more accessible to more people in a company, Berry says.
“An ERP is not an off-the-shelf system: it’s a suite of services and you end up building your app on top of their platform. We cut right through that. We don’t want to be an ERP. We want to cater to 80 percent of clients’ needs and give them a really nice easy-to-use system,” Berry says.
Unleashed has clients using SAP as their main system and Unleashed for satellite stores. Customers are also downgrading from NetSuite because it is too clunky and complicated for smaller businesses.
This model, which has worked well in Australia and New Zealand, is also working in the US. Unleashed was surprised at the demand when it put two salespeople on the ground there. It has recently closed a NZ$4.5 million funding round to hire an executive team to scale its American ambitions.
- Head office Auckland, New Zealand
- Founded Early 2009
- Headcount 53
- Products and services Inventory management software for small-to-medium businesses
- CEO Gareth Berry
- Senior executives Craig Brown (COO/CFO), Miranda David (sales director), Anthony Mordech (CMO), Lisa Miles-Heal (CTO)
- Partners Unleashed is a platform partner with key SaaS business solutions like Xero, QuickBooks Online, Vend and Magento.