How did it all begin?
The Direction vision was conceived in June 2006, namely to create a vibrant US-focused company with a ready market, a strong team and a quality product that could grow rapidly and command high strategic shareholder value. It was decided that to make the company successful it was important to ensure that the team was as strong as the product. The team is made up of three different, but equally skilled, entrepreneurs who have a collective vision: Mark Simon, the CEO with over 18 years experience in the IT industry; Chris Bulman, the “Just Do It” guy who, as founder of iTools Ltd, a successful project management software company, has experienced many of the issues facing a start up software company; and Rene Bros who joined directly from 42Below as the Sales and Creative Bloke with over 15 years sales and marketing experience.
What changes has the business undergone?
The development of the SaaS product was the fundamental major change, with the addition of the website. By securing support in terms of funding, database access and logistical support from both the NZTE (New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) and the NBIA (National Business Incubation Association) Direction set up an office in San Jose, California. Securing key partnerships and relationships in key markets has ensured that Direction has been made available to a wide range of potential clients
What is your core business?
Direction is a highly-graphical and intuitive tool that helps companies relentlessly focus on their big business goals and opportunities. Direction provides immediate insight into the health of the business – not just in terms of (historic) financial information, but more importantly, with respect to future strategic performance.
Direction is the perfect tool for management and board meetings as individuals focus their attention on the ‘important stuff’. Direction is also highly collaborative, meaning the information captured within the tool can be shared with other stakeholders as and when required.
Who are your clients and what business challenges do they face?
Direction targets the high-growth sector of the SME market where its offer is at its strongest. To ensure focus and success Direction targets three areas of the vast SME marketplace:
Large Accounting Firms – Accounting firms represent Direction’s main channel partners, providing access to their base of SME clients, as well as fulfilling the services component of the Direction offer. The accounting market is in a state of flux, and firms are looking at ways to differentiate themselves by creating new service lines alongside their traditional ‘compliance & tax’ revenue streams.
Business Incubators – Business Incubators are organisations that actively support and mentor high growth SMEs. The incubation industry represents an excellent channel for Direction because it is a well-defined, open and accessible market. Incubators ‘love to talk’ and share ideas and it is our intention to use this industry to seed the marketplace with our product.
Direct Online Sales – Direction believes that the software needs of SMEs are now moving away from the traditional enterprise software model towards consumer-style requirements.
By accessing our software online the SME is no longer forced to deal with the frustrating process of software installation, back-ups and upgrades.
What challenges do you face operating outside a metropolitan area?
Because Direction is web enabled it means that the product can be accessed by our clients wherever it is required – whether that be Auckland, Addis Ababa or Atlanta. We are engaging in telephone sales drives in both our key markets - NZ and the USA, but with the increasing use of the internet worldwide we are receiving interest from all over the globe.
What technology is hot right now?
Ours, of course! SaaS is hot as it provides an easy to use solution that the users need.
Performance Management and Business Intelligence software is hot as has been evidenced by Oracles’ acquisition of Hyperion and SAP’s acquisition of Business Objects. The growth in the market is far outstripping most other sectors, and businesses have so much data to manage and act upon that the need is there, more than ever, for software to act with intelligence.
What’s the best thing about your location?
Having two offices (one in Auckland and one in San Jose) means that not only are we close to our customers in NZ and the West Coast of America, but we are also close to some great vineyards.
Without giving away valuable IP – what do you think is the secret to your success?
A great team with a united belief in our product and a commitment to deliver on the promises that have been made to our customers and shareholders.