Exceptional entrepreneur: Xero
Over the past 11 years, the Xero team has built an incredible global software business. New Zealand Country Manager, Craig Hudson, talks about Xero's epic growth journey.
Hi Craig, tell us about Xero and the company's epic growth journey
Over the past 11 years, the Xero team has built an incredible global software business. The company has grown from humble beginnings with only four employees working in a Wellington apartment, to now having more than 2,000 'Xeros', and a presence in 180+ countries. In the last year alone, the business has hit significant milestones, including reaching more than one million subscribers, hitting EBITDA positive with a revenue of $78.8 million, and consolidating our listing on the ASX and entering the ASX 100.
Xero is poised for global expansion - with a global team committed to our purpose: to have a positive impact on the world by helping small businesses grow. However, no matter how far or how fast we grow, we'll always remain a New Zealand company. We currently have more than 300,000 New Zealand subscribers, with 22 percent growth in the past year. The number of staff we employ has grown so rapidly that we have now expanded into a new Wellington office (our HQ) that brings together over 650 people under one roof. In Auckland, we are moving to a new office in November accommodating more than 600 staff and including a co-working space for small businesses.
We've moved beyond accounting and built a global cloud platform connecting the small business economy with a large ecosystem of integrated applications offering a wide range of business solutions, like front office applications and next generation tools for advisors. We have a clear strategy, a strong leadership team and the business is performing well. Xero is only at the beginning - we have so much more to achieve!
How has the company gone from a newcomer in an industry that didn’t exist to a globally recognised brand?
From the beginning, Rod Drury, our founder, set out a clear and ambitious vision for Xero. This vision is still at the core of everything we do: to positively impact the world by growing small business. It’s also important to have a clear plan of attack that the whole team can contribute to. Taking everyone on the same journey is a key part of our success.
New Zealand is one of the most digitally-connected countries in the world, giving us the opportunity to create, test, evolve and export excellence to the world. Safe-payments is a massive issue for the globe, but we aim to be the shining light for digital-connectedness for small business. We are well on our way to rewiring how businesses work together. By accelerating automation and machine learning, delivering a large range of new products, and strengthening our connections to financial and FinTech organisations, large enterprises and government agencies, we are increasing opportunities for small businesses to grow and create new jobs.
The outcome of our the investment into R&D over the past 11 years has been key to delivering a much loved and well recognised product, globally. So, I am incredibly proud of Xero, a company that has come from nothing and now exports its beautiful products to the world.
Xero has been on the Fast 50 index three times and last year, took out the Master of Growth award – what does this mean to you guys?
We're honoured to have been part of the Fast 50 index multiple times and to have won the first Master of Growth award. It’s a prestigious award that shines a spotlight on established New Zealand businesses with sustained growth. It is an honour to be recognised as a company that is achieving outstanding growth and executing on our plans by finding a point of difference in the market. This award has motivated us to do even better year on year. We will continue to build on our growth and success, helping the small business economy as we go.
We see you’re moving into the big data space with Xero Small Business Insights - tell us about it.
Sure thing - at Xero, we are dedicated to improving the lives of small business owners everywhere. Our close relationship with these small businesses gives us unique insights into the challenges they face. These include things like getting paid on time, maintaining positive cash flow and hiring people - and we want to help in all these areas.
This is where Xero Small Business Insights comes into it. Xero Small Business Insights is a snapshot of the small business sectors health, updated monthly. The metrics are based on anonymised, aggregated data drawn from hundreds of thousands of our subscribers. The result is a picture of business conditions that’s more comprehensive than most private surveys, which often have a far smaller sample size.
It’s our hope that with this data in hand, New Zealand policymakers, large enterprises and even small businesses themselves will be able to make more informed decisions that ultimately benefit both the small business economy and the wider New Zealand economy.
01 June, 2018 by Alice Potter,
Alice Potter works in the Deloitte clients and marketing team and closely with Deloitte Private.