Congratulations to Xero, winner of the International Technium Challenge organised by International Business Wales and Technium UK. As one of the first businesses categorised as a hosted solution provider to win this award, it is an incredible achievement for the Xero team.
First and foremost, this means validation for Xero in the UK market, and allows the company to fast-track its plan to expand outside of New Zealand. Rod Drury stated that one of the best things about the win was that it allowed Xero to leverage relationships that IBW has already established, therefore accelerating entry into the UK market. It also gives Xero an opportunity to significantly reduce its start-up costs, as it makes the move into overseas markets.
The trophy was presented to Rod Drury by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Director for Technology & Innovation, Virginia Chambers; and with it comes a comprehensive business support package and office space in a Technium business innovation and incubation centre in Wales.
Rhodri Jones, International Business Wales Vice President for New Zealand, commented on Xero’s win by saying, “Xero is a great example of a company leveraging a superb new business software model firmly anchored in New Zealand but looking to access and scale itself in global markets as a key to success – that is exactly the sort of company that IBW can assist in the UK market.”
With Rod at the helm, Xero is going through the planning stages now. The team needs to do a lot of localisation work for the UK, as, at this stage, Xero is only available to New Zealand businesses. Accounting systems vary for every geographical location, but Xero already has a framework designed to support the differing rules of individual companies. There has been a large amount of research and development to make it easier to do localisation, and that will continue, as Xero has begun market entry into Australia and the UK, and plans to be actively selling into those countries in 2008.
Rod mentioned that there are several parallels between Wales and New Zealand, but went on to say that moving into the UK market will require more than just swapping GST for VAT reports in the Xero system. “Wales is a very networked country that is reinventing itself. Not only are they encouraging Welsh businesses to grow and succeed, but they are reaching out to international companies who are using Wales as a beachhead for accessing the European Union.” Rod stressed the importance of this, as he clarified that it is difficult to attract large companies to New Zealand, and this country’s economic development needs to focus of developing New Zealand businesses so they can play on the global stage.
This win has highlighted the New Zealand skills shortage for Rod, as he is looking to expand, but lacking qualified developers and online marketing people, specifically. “The tertiary education system needs to build a pipeline of people to support a global technology industry from within New Zealand,” said Rod. This is especially important for Xero, because while the company is on the move, the intention is to keep its growing development and marketing teams in New Zealand. This is one kiwi company that knows where its heart is.