A BizSpark Start-up that's delivering Software as a Service, Xtrood.com.au
Why are you building this Startup? What does it do? The concept of Xtrood.com.au came from working in the credit industry for a number of years, working with automatic credit assessment. Time was spent designing web screens and documents for capturing customer details in order to assess them for credit, but even more so, we were building screens for companies just for the purpose of workflow and very little time actually spent on making credit decisions. This made me realise that so many business out there seem to struggle getting their IT teams to build systems to run their businesses more efficiently. What I set out to do was create a system that other businesses can use for customers to enter their details (name, address, etc.) and put this through an online data workflow system to send out emails, documents and even place event bookings. I built the system in modules that users can configure what they use and don’t use and build their own data capture screens, but the real work happens with the workflow processes. In essence we allow business to capture just about any data they would need for a customer, then set up automated actions with that data such as ‘do I need to send them a confirmation email?’ or generate sales documentation for the customer to sign. We are used to moving away from traditional paper based applications for services and products to fully online web application forms.What does a product marketing team need to understand from engineering about how to sell the product? The first thing to note is that Xtrood is built as Software as a Service, meaning that we can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and a web browser. We are built on the .NET framework running LINQ to SQL on a MySQL database. This is done to keep running and licence costs down, but allows for the flexibility to swap out the database to MSSQL in the future if needed. All the web screens are built with responsive design in mind so that they will work on mobile devices and tablets. The software is designed so that the customer can configure their entire workflow process and what data they want to capture. They are purchasing a system that they can use and control themselves, and do not need to call up a support team to make changes for them. What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world? In business I find that it is extremely difficult to get in house IT teams to build new things, they are always busy with other projects to keep their existing systems and processes ticking over.The impact Xtrood is trying to make allows businesses to have control over their customer data and decisions that are being made, without needing to get funding and approval for an internal IT project to build a system. We hope to help smaller businesses grow and compete in their markets by giving them simple tools that can do a lot with their data. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a business in your country? I don’t think it matters where you are or what you do, if you have a passion for something and realise you can help others when no one else will, go for it! I would recommend taking it in small steps however, don’t just throw the towel in on where you are right now and jump head first in to running a small business with no backup plan. Most of all, ask for help. Dealing with a whole host of different people and businesses over the years, the majority of people are willing to give you a hand if you ask. It might just be some words of wisdom, or someone might offer to have a play with your systems and do some testing for you. If they have nothing to lose by giving you a hand, why wouldn’t they?How do you work with investors, or do you currently use any outside money at all? I’m yet to have to have to deal with real investors for Xtrood as it is still early days, but when the time comes I will be open to it. Investors would need to see the potential of our systems and how it can enable other businesses to move forward. Right now I’m juggling working part time on this business, along with my other job of 7 years. I’ve managed to reduce the number of hours at my 2nd job to keep money coming in, but also give me the time to focus on my business as well.Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software? Working with Microsoft products and services for many years, it is quick to set up something large and complex in a relatively short time frame and generate a quality outcome. It’s also easy to get support online which is always a bonus. Building a web application on Microsoft servers just seems to make sense. They are easy to scale up and down as needed, easy to manage and they are easy to monitor. They also assist in helping you network with others and provide some guidance along the way.
I've had a few BizSpark Startups in Oz ask me how they can increase their online visibility, and yes I'm aware that it can be hard and daunting at times trying to compete online. So, if you're struggling with gaining traction online, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'm happy to work with each of you and get you some more online visibility!
Hope you all have a lovely weekend and enjoy the weather :)
Got an awesome app idea that utilises open data? Join us for a workshop as part of the Premier’s Awards for Open Data on how to map out a prototype of your application. Explore how to map out a user interface and key features for your application. This workshop will take place on October 17th 2013. For more information on the Premier’s Awards for Open Data visit www.data.qld.gov.au & make sure you register here https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032564865&Culture=en-AU&community=0
Agenda for the day:
1.00pm Prototyping your App - Approaches: data centric, user centric, horizontal (whole app), vertical (taking one slice & going deep)
3.15 Focus Group Prototype - Feedback Intensive Session
5.00 Finish Workshop
5.00 (General invitation to local Brisbane community to pop in & say hi)
A BizSpark start-up who is working on a web app that makes taking payments online simple. Find them at www.selz.com.
1.Why are you building this Startup? What does it do?Selz.com was formed with the goal of making selling via blogs and social networks simple. The company’s service allows users to sell digital downloads and physical products with just a few clicks. There is no monthly fee, no merchant account needed, no contracts and only a simple flat fee per sale. We've made it simple for all types of sellers, for site owners and bloggers adding a Selz button is as easy as cutting and pasting a snippet of code to their site, like embedding a YouTube video, buyers can then purchase direct within the website without being redirected. You can choose from adding a “buy now” button or "item widget" showing product details on your site. Selz has also made it easier to sell via social networks using our integrated sharing to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest at the click of a mouse. We've made it as simple as possible to manage of your products in one single place and then sell them through a wide variety of channels.
2.What does a product marketing team need to understand from engineering about how to sell the product? Knowing our customers, market and competitors is key to our success, therefore before every new feature we carry market research, user feedback and competitor research to validate new features and enhancements. Once this process is complete we then prototype and carry out internal and external testing to refine and further validate the new feature / enhancement. Once validated we then ensure that the marketing team are across the new feature and it's scheduled release date. On completion of development and testing the marketing and support team are invited to test the new feature before release.
3.What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world? Selz wants to help people do what they love. Our service helps bloggers, musicians, artists, software creators and workers in the knowledge community to sell what they create and get paid. We want to make it easy for non technical entrepreneurs to be able sell online to help them make money from doing what they love.
4. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a business in your country?Do something you love. Running a small business takes a lot of personal sacrifice and investment, so you are more likely to be successful doing something you are passionate about. Keep it lean. Clearly identify the niche in the market you are addressing. Build a minimum viable prototype and get market feedback as quickly as possible. Then iterate from there based on market feedback. Keep costs to an absolute minimum. Bootstrap wherever you can to keep the breakeven point as low as possible. Nurture and value your existing customers give them excellent customer service.. Don’t just focus on acquiring new ones and neglecting your existing customers. A profitable business relies on repeat custom.
5. How do you work with investors, or do you currently use any outside money at all?The company is privately held. We work very closely with our shareholders to keep them informed of how the business is progressing.
6. Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?The Bizspark program and the free licenses (Visual Studio etc…) we acquired when we joined the program have been great for getting our product off the ground. Harnessing the Microsoft products and services has made us a really productive startup allowing us to quickly iterate and improve our solution. There is also a strong pool of talented developers that have a solid experience using .NET in Australia. Our team enjoy coding using C# and we love working with the asp.net mvc framework.
Ideation Workshop: Build an App with a Business Model
It's one thing to develop an amazing app, but it's another to build an app that you can commercialize. With the launch of the Premier's Awards for Open Data we are hosting an Ideation Workshop at the Microsoft Innovation Centre, to help app developers and startups think beyond the functionality of an application and to think about their businesses model. This is a great workshop to take in the early stage of application development, as it will help direct you to build an application that is sustainable and commercially viable.
The is a workshop will be hosted by PATRICK VAN DER PIJL & MICHEAL EALES from Business Models Inc. If you are a fan of the Business Model Canvas, then this is a workshop you don't want to miss!
In this workshop you will gain:
There are limited places available at this workshop so make sure you register quickly!
For questions or more information contact email@example.com
If you're interested in learning more about the Premier's Awards for Open Data visit www.data.qld.gov.au & join the conversation at www.yammer.com/qldopendata
PATRICK VAN DER PIJL, CEO BMInc.
Patrick van der Pijl is CEO & founder of Business Models Inc. and producer of the bestseller ‘Business Model Generation‘ written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. He facilitates the formulation of new business model strategies in in international organizations and is specialized in business design and innovation, strategic visioning, visualization and graphic facilitation. Business Models Inc. is also based on a new business model for consulting. Patrick frequently delivers workshops and presentations on business modeling, business model innovation, business design and lean start-up.
Patrick has 17 years of experience in innovation, organizational (re)design, process (re)design and business modeling for (inter)national organizations in many industries, among others entertainment, media and telecom, hospitality and the financial sector.
Before founding Business Models Inc., Patrick was partner at innovation factory ULURU in Amsterdam and senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and Andersen.
Michael supports organisations design better business models, by challenging business to find a practical design attitude towards strategy and execution. Business design tools and how to manipulate them is his craft. Supporting people in business to think better, communicate more effectively and work faster - so their strategy can move as fast as their business - is his objective. With 15 years of experience in banking and finance, corporate development and organizational (re)design, Michael also has hands on commercial experience in starting up businesses. He has an ability to synthesize complex business problems, and focus on the key issues to find a pragmatic attitude toward solving them. Michael is a Non-Executive Director of the Food Connect Foundation and venture capital backed Canadian SAAS technology firm DisclosureNet in Australia, and a Stanford Certified Project Manager (SCPM).