Kiwi cloud company wants Silicon Valley millions

AMANDA SACHTLEBEN
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2013

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Cloud software firm GeoOp has tens of millions in investment dollars in its sights to fuel ambitious offshore expansion plans.

GeoOp recently secured $500,000 from former Xero country manager Leanne Graham’s company Cloud Rainmakers and plans to establish itself in San Francisco this year.

GeoOp’s software integrates with Xero’s online accounting platform and GeoOp chief operating officer and co-founder Nick Bartlett says his company needs to achieve a level of capital raising similar to that of Xero. Xero secured $60 million from Matrix Capital Partners and Valar Ventures last November.

“When you’ve got global ambitions you’re naïve to think you don’t need tens of millions to really execute properly. We do have some seriously big goals so we’re realistic about what it takes to achieve those.”

Bartlett says GeoOp will initially sell through the Xero channel of accountants and advisors and focus on California, but “real scalable investment” would allow it to broaden its target market.

“If we’re fortunate enough to secure some real scalable investment, so the tens of million-type investments that happen over there, then obviously we’ll alter our sales strategy to suit. That will be another aim of mine to do that.”

GeoOp has already set up in Melbourne, where Bartlett has been based since 2010. It has more than 5000 users and in Australia it has more than 30 resellers.

The company will continue to develop its product in New Zealand and won’t hire a big team in the US, Bartlett says. 

“It’s been a small team in Melbourne, but we’ve made big partnerships. It showed that even if it’s one key person in a market, you can make a lot of inroads. With the US it will be a similar strategy.”

GeoOp’s location-based software allows service workers to use smartphones, tablets and the web to coordinate and schedule jobs, and do quotes, invoicing and on-site signatures.

Bartlett reckons ‘zero weight’ Kiwi companies that offer services like web design, web development or graphic design need to think global.

There’s a big opportunity in Australia, he says.

“Auckland is closer to Melbourne than Perth is and we have Skype so we can communicate. Plane tickets cost a couple of hundred bucks each way. If a client is in Sydney or Melbourne, a New Zealand company can offer the same or better service for a significantly lower price and then they’re not competing for the same limited number of businesses that are in New Zealand. It is getting a lot easier to access these markets and it doesn’t cost a lot to try.”

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The company has come close to being profitable, but is currently focused on building its customer base, says Bartlett. It wants to make the most of Graham’s channel management experience with Xero to grow the user base. Graham is now the company's CEO and it has 11 staff.

Bartlett, now aged 27, first went into business as a minority shareholder in an audiovisual company before finishing a commerce and property degree six years ago.

He went on to start his own audiovisual business and sold it for just less than $500,000 within 18 months.

He reckons the keys to business success are being in the right market and being in business with people who share your vision.

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