Tuesday, March 30, 2010

FreeAgent powers ahead with Iris

Image representing FreeAgent Central as depict...Image via CrunchBase
FreeAgent Central, has agreed a strategic partnership with Iris, the UK’s largest private software house, opening up the significant accounting practice market to their award-winning online accounting software ‘FreeAgent’ and positioning the company for rapid growth.

Iris, which supplies software to over 60,000 business customers, currently dominates the accountancy practice software market with over 14,000 practice customers (a market share of around 50%).
Iris is a software giant in the UK backed by Hellman and Friedman the private equity house that took Getty Images private in 2008.

CEO Martin Leuw has been building IRIS into an exceptional business with revenues of £120m and profits of £40m in 2009. Their strategy has been to focus on sectors which they serve really well with appropriate products.

Its a real endorsement and validation for what Ed Molyneux and Roan Lavery, the founders and the team have built at FreeAgent that Iris selected them to partner and invest in.

Iris is also investing investing in FreeAgent, acquiring a minority stake and Phill Robinson, Iris’s Accounting Practice Solutions’ Managing Director, is joining FreeAgent Central’s board. 

Phill, well known in web circles, was formerly Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer - Sales and Distribution at Salesforce.com and will be invaluable to FreeAgent Central as it looks to continue its rapid growth both in the UK and internationally. 

This is an important milestone for FreeAgent Central and will bring online accounting to the mainstream of the accounting practice software market. Accountants have a unique opportunity to help small businesses thrive, and FreeAgent will help them that to do that even more effectively by connecting them live to their clients’ accounting data. 
Users of FreeAgent become passionate advocates within days of starting to use the service and the FreeAgent team is  planning to build some powerful analysis tools for Iris’s practice customers too.
The FreeAgent product has been getting rave reviews for some time. This distribution deal will empower many more freelancers.

Existing investors, including The Accelerator Group and serial angel investor Christoph Janz, also participated in the investment round.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Major coup for Seedcamp winner, ERPLY

Investors in Seedcamp were universally impressed with Erply during Seedcamp week in London last September and then again during 'demo day' and 'investor day' at the end of 2009.
They were exposed again to 50 or so seed investors at SeedSummit in December 2009.
Now, following a visit that 10 of the Seedcamp finalists made to the US, Redpoint and Index have led a funding round which puts the business software start-up from Estonia firmly on the map.

This is an exciting development for Seedcamp and Erply.
For Seedcamp, this is an endorsement of its ability to find high potential companies and provide them with a global platform.
For Erply this round is a recognition of the strength of the product that Kris and his team have developed.

The press release follows:

Erply attracts funding from top tier investors for disruptive business software technology

Press Release: London & Tallinn, 23 March 2010 – Seedcamp winner Erply raises $2million from top tier US and European venture capitalists and angels in a Series A round.

Business software startup Erply today announced the closing of a $2 million funding round from Redpoint, Index Ventures and prominent entrepreneurs and angel investors Marten Mickos (former CEO of MySQL), Kenny van Zant (SVP & Chief Product Strategist at SolarWinds), Zack Urlocker (former EVP Products at MySQL), Aydin Senkut, Dave McClure and The Accelerator Group. The funding will be used to expand Erply’s customer base in key European markets and its upcoming expansion into the US. Satish Dharmaraj of Redpoint and Index Ventures partner Saul Klein will both join Erply’s Board of Directors.
The company, led by CEO Kris Hiiemaa, was founded in 2009 in Estonia by four experienced business software developers. Since winning Seedcamp in 2009, Erply has already seen rapid growth in new customers. Erply is revenue generating, profitable and has attracted a wide variety of customers, including car dealerships, toy shops and restaurants. 

Erply’s easy-to-use business software that enables companies to perform every business function, including bookkeeping, customer relationship management and stock control. Erply is built on the latest web technologies, so it is as powerful and secure as any business software on the market. As a result, small businesses can easily integrate Erply and rapidly scale-up their operations.

While the USD $39 billion market for comparable business software is currently dominated by major players like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics and Oracle, their offerings are too costly and complex for the majority of small businesses. In contrast, Erply’s business software is available for a small fraction of its competitors’ and an average €55 monthly subscription fee is a more cost-effective option for small businesses. Erply is additionally well-positioned for success: where its competitors’ market is limited to tens of thousands of big businesses, Erply has a potential market of 45 million small businesses in Europe and the US alone.

Erply co-founder Kris Hiiemaa believes Erply’s new investors’ experience will prove pivotal to building on the company’s impressive start: “The main value in this funding round is in the enormous insight, experience and expertise our investors bring to Erply. Individually, each VC and angel has an incredible track record of identifying cutting-edge tech startups with fast-growth potential and helping them flourish. It’s a very exciting time for us.” 

Redpoint partner and Zimbra co-founder Satish Dharmaraj: “Erply is to ERP what Zimbra was to email and collaboration. Having seen how rapidly Zimbra replaced Exchange and Outlook as an email solution for businesses for all sizes, I see promising synergies in the game change that Erply is set to do, and I’m thrilled to be involved with Erply.”

Former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos: “Similar to how MySQL made databases affordable for businesses all over the world, customers are already adopting Erply and recognising it as a great solution for their business software needs.”

Index Ventures’ Saul Klein: “Having seen at first hand the effect that Skype’s simplicity and pricing had on the telecoms industry, I’m delighted to support Erply as they try to do for business software what Skype did for telecoms.”

Erply Background Information
Erply (
http://www.erply.com) was launched in Tallinn in 2009 by four Estonian software developers.

The company is incorporated in the UK and has its headquarters in Tallinn. Since winning Seedcamp London in September 2009, Erply has grown rapidly and now is generating revenue and is profitable.

Erply gives companies the ability to manage their business (including critical data and operations, inventory, stock control and accounting) in one easy-to-use package.

Erply is already available in seven languages and is fully customised for each geographic location’s particular tax laws.

Erply has four monthly subscription options, ranging from a basic free version to a fully-functional Premium account which costs €99 per month.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Europe needs to learn to play nicely

Saul's latest inspiration to European entrepreneurs.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Skimkit is a major advance for publishers

Newspapers and other media have long felt that they have gone unrewarded for the enormous boost that their reviews of  product give to sales levels. A mention from an influential journalist or reviewer can shoot a book into the best seller list or a product into orbit.
Of course, writers need to be completely impartial when reviewing products and those journalists who are not, are very easily found out and no self-respecting editor would allow such bias - readers would leave in droves. The best reviewers are independent, even handed impartial - that does not mean that their publishers should not be rewarded for referencing the product or retailer in question.

In order to provide a real service to readers, a good reviewer should offer a link to the retailer or manufacturer, enabling the reader to buy directly.

Now publishers can do all of this with ease AND earn a referral commission - resulting in a win/win/win for the reader, medium and retailer.
All this happens in the background, without the journalist or the publisher getting involved in any of the grubby business of affiliate commissions. Retailers pay Skimlinks the affiliate commission and Skimlinks shares this with the publisher.
Skimlinks currently covers 23 different affiliate networks, 7500 merchants and over 100,000 products.

Finding a product and its deep link is really simple.
Whether the writer is doing a piece on 'the top ten red coats under £100', accessing a list of retailers that stock the Plasma TV they're reviewing, or reviewing the latest discount offer from their favourite skincare brand, Skimkit finds the products and produces the links to take the readers directly to the relevant products on the retailers website.
Skimlinks takes care of the all the commercials.

Skimlinks new tool, Skimkit is a significant advance. It changes little in the writing process and is extremely simple to use.
I expect Skimlinks growth to continue to accelerate with this initiative.

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