Tradify

Taking the pain out of admin for tradespeople.

tradify-logoMost tradespeople are really good at what they do – be it plumbing, joinery, construction, or a myriad of other specialist trades. But like most of the rest of us many hate the admin part of the job – keeping track of costs, time, invoices, etc. Every hour spent doing admin is an hour not doing something that you love, like spending time with family in the evenings or weekends.

Tradify provides an app that makes it easy to keep track of time and materials working on client jobs, and integrates with accounting systems like Xero and MYOB so you can spend less time doing paperwork. It also covers employee scheduling, dispatching, and quoting so you can keep the whole team organised.

Born in Auckland, Tradify has many hundreds of customers in over 20 countries, although most are in Australia. They’re getting ready for a big global push.

Curtis Bailey
Curtis Bailey

Founder Curtis Bailey is a software developer by trade, and passionate about solving problems and making stuff work. He worked as a software engineer on a variety of business software, ERP, and mobile apps, but in the late noughties decided that his IT career was really ordinary. “Why am I doing this,” he asked himself, “when I could be extraordinary?”

When you wonder who you’re going to work for next, just look in the mirror.

Around that time, Xero was just gaining momentum. Curtis was blown away by how good the Xero user experience was, and was inspired that it was created by a Kiwi company, with an exceptional product, an exceptional brand, and an exceptional marketing team, going up against the big players and making a success of it. Curtis was inspired to build a business that hit the Xero quality benchmark.

In a previous life, Curtis had worked as an apprentice at an electrical engineering company. This gave him first hand experience of the admin pain tradies experience. He combined this with his ERP experience from previous jobs as a dev, and for the next two years spent nights and weekends building the first version of Tradify. In August 2013, the first version of Tradify went online.

In the first month he managed to attract two customers, and in the second month he got another six, and a year later, after attending some trade shows in Australia and getting great word-of-mouth referrals, he had enough revenue coming in to quit his day job and go full time on Tradify. The company has continued to grow at a good clip since then, and he’s continued bootstrapping by hiring additional people as revenue increased. He’s just recruited employee number eight.

Tradify took on some seed investment early this year, and their investors (ex-MCOM legends Adam Clark, Graeme Ransley and Serge van Dam) have helped them really step up growth. They’ve become fanatically data-driven, and a lot more methodical about marketing – testing hypotheses, measuring results, iterating, doubling down on stuff that works, chucking out stuff that doesn’t. The next phase of the company is all about sales and marketing, stepping up the growth rate, and building Tradify into a massive global business. They’re planning on raising a seed round in the next few months to validate assumptions necessary to attack the North American market, and then go for Series A.

You need to be good at getting good at stuff quickly.

Curtis has found it really interesting making the transition from being a dev to being a CEO. He uses the analogy of making music to describe it:

“In order to write a song, you need to understand the elements of what makes a good song, and take an idea and turn it into reality with composition, orchestration, and conducting. Business is the same thing – a dev is focused on making a good piece of software, and a great entrepreneur is focused on turning an idea into the best possible business. You can’t be a musician if you can’t play an instrument, and you can’t be a dev if you can’t cut code. It’s the same in business – you need to gain the hard yards experience selling, hiring people, managing finances, and a hundred other things. You need to be good at getting good at stuff quickly. You don’t need to be great at it, but you do need to be quick, understand what’s required, and then hire people to do the job properly.”

His bottom line: “Why be ordinary? Let everyone else do that.”


In Other News …

The Project 2016 takes place in Auckland at AUT on 1 September. This year’s theme is creativity in business and beyond. They’ve got a great speaker lineup, and there are still a few tickets left.

The MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Asia Innovators Under 35 Awards nominations close on 9 September. If you know an outstanding young innovator deserving of international recognition, do nominate them.

Payments NZ has announced a Fintech Innovation Challenge. Entries close Monday 12 September 2016.

Spark CEO Simon Moutter is planning on setting up a $100m fund to fill the gap where Corporate VC lives to help NZ early stage businesses with commercialisation and internationalisation.

Andrew Simmonds, Marie-Claire Andrews, and Rod Drury are hatching a conference with the working title Foundercon, by and for founders, “an opportunity for NZ founders to network the heck out of each other”.  Watch this space.

What kind of events would you like to see in the tech sector? Please fill in Verve’s quick survey.

“In Other News” is a new experimental feature of this blog. If you’ve read this far, like it, and want to see more, please let me know.

Debtor Daddy

debtordaddy_logo_250x66Debtor Daddy provides credit control as a service, and is one of a very few companies for which you can truly say – switch on their service, and the money will start rolling in. They’re currently based in the Lightning Lab Christchurch accelerator programme.

Mark this date in your diary: 5 November 2015 – Lightning Lab Christchurch Demo Day, Jack Mann Auditorium, University of Canterbury. If you’re an eligible person, that’s where you’ll get to see Debtor Daddy and nine other new companies pitch for investment.  More on this below.

If you’re a business owner, Debtor Daddy integrates with your cloud-based accounting system (Xero, MYOB, or Intuit), trawling through your accounts receivable (debtors), identifying who’s late in paying, and then sends a series of automated reminders to pay, and can ultimately refer recalcitrant debtors to collection agencies. They even provide an optional service to automatically have a real person phone up your debtors and encourage them to pay.  This improves cash flow and also frees up a significant amount of time and mental energy by automating and outsourcing  a job that nobody enjoys. Debtor Daddy claims that debtors reduce on average by 43% after 30 days of use, whilst freeing up two to eight hours per week for business owners. They’re the top ranking add-on in the Xero Marketplace debtor tracking category, and the reviews are truly stellar.

One of the things I really like about this business is that it’s antifragile – turbulent economic conditions make Debtor Daddy even more valuable, and a potential anticyclical hedge investment.

They already have over 800 customers, the vast majority of them outside New Zealand in 20+ other countries, and are growing mostly organically an average of 20% per month. There’s clearly a massive opportunity to greatly accelerate this growth, which is why they’re in the Lab.

mark-250x250matt-250x250Cofounders Matt McFedries and Mark Haussmann have extensive startup experience and finance industry experience.  This the third company Matt has founded, and Mark has been his right-hand dev straight  through.  They’re a tight team, and have a strong understanding that especially for this business, UX/UI is critical, both for the user and the debtors from whom they’re trying to collect.  These guys are very focussed on metrics, and I had a great conversation about their Pirate Metrics, so good in fact that I asked them to present their dashboard as a case study for the rest of the Lab participants when I was in Christchurch recently giving a presentation on startup metrics.

They want to get the word out about the product. They offer a 30-day free trial (no credit card info required), and after that, NZ Startup of the Week subscribers can get a further 50% discount of their first three months by using the discount code SOTW. They’re also giving away a practical free e-book on growing your business, not your debt.

They’re also looking for a Rails dev, if you’re interested, apply here.

And of course, they’ll be raising money on Demo Day, 5 November 2015, along with the nine other companies at Lightning Lab Christchurch.  I’m hoping as many investors as possible reading this blog will come down to Christchurch that day.  If you don’t have an invite yet, and you’re an eligible person or eligible investor, please contact Michelle Panzer at the Lab directly to request an invitation.

Christchurch has reached an important inflection point, just in the last few months. There are now more cranes than bulldozers, more concrete mixers than dump trucks. I’ve compared the CBD to a once-beautiful tree that’s been hard pruned – it’s a shadow of its former self, but you can see the new growth sprouting up, and it’s clear that what Christchurch is becoming will be even more impressive than what it was. Rather than the backward looking “more English than England”, I’m hoping that it can become the most connected, collaborative, creative city in the world. Young people and immigrants are playing a large part in driving the agenda, and especially in the Lab, the results are stunning.

So please do your bit, and come down and see the results of Lightning Lab on Demo Day.  We’ll see you there.