It started with some bean bags, a great idea and no clients. The year was 2011 and best friends from school – Markus Cirillo and Chris Hooper – had just bought the legacy of Markus’ father’s business to start Cirillo Hooper & Company.
Chris remembers the decision well, which they made while fixing the garden fence one Sunday morning with Markus’ dad. “I was 24 and thought I knew everything already. Starting an accounting firm seemed like a good idea at the time.”
From zero to $20M
It wasn’t the most auspicious start for a company that would reinvent itself over the following six years to bring in annual target revenues of $20M, with 30 global staff driving this picture. Now, fresh off the back of coveted accolades such as Most Innovative Accounting Firm, Accodex has just reached platinum partner status.
When reflecting on their initial decision to use Xero, Chris’ latest article recalls the unlikely start that led them in this direction, before Xero was even on his radar.
“When we started out in 2011, one of the most important decisions was, ‘what software should we use?’. I made inquiries with the established players at the time. Xero wasn’t even on my radar.
“But after these established players discovered we were a startup firm with no clients, we obviously got handed off to the worst account manager ever. I was there, prepared to drop tens of thousands of dollars on practice management software but I couldn’t even get my calls returned.
“One day while waiting for a call back I jumped on Google and started looking for alternatives. I found a sketchy Kiwi startup called Xero. When I contacted them, I was met by one of the most enthusiastic account managers I had ever spoken to. It was none other than Andy Whitelaw, who incidentally is still with the company to this date.
“Steve Leaney joined the Xero crew as the first Adelaide Account Manager and he has been with Accodex every step of the way since. It has been a long road with Xero and one that I’m happy to be a part of.”
Always look ahead
While Chris is happy to share tips on how they reached this platinum milestone, he says marching to your own beat matters even more.
“Back in 2014-2015 we were absolutely cleaning up with Xero as our offering. We were 50 per cent more efficient than every other practice because we were cloud based. This also gave us a great competitive advantage”.
“But we knew that it was only ever going to be temporary and that everyone would soon converge on that best practice. This got me researching,” he says.
The future is data driven
Now, Chris believes that future of accounting lies in its output. The data, the intelligence is where it is at he says – not so much the input.
“I really think the difference is in the data-driven approach. It’s not just about counting dollars anymore. We drive our clients through our process of capturing the data, and measuring that. We surface this into a database and we run reports over that database.
“Since I started the company, I’ve noticed a fascinating trend. This intelligence is becoming cheaper and more accessible every day. These days a startup company can have the same level of business intelligence, often better for a fraction of the cost. And accounting is only part of this picture.”
Platinum tips to get ahead
Whether you call Chris a futurist, thought leader, or a trail blazer – his clients know that he and his team are always ahead of trends. This is partly why Accodex is tipped to reach $20M in revenue.
Here are Chris’ tips for anyone looking to reach platinum partner status.
- Tune into the industry. Don’t just read material and go to conferences but study. Really pay attention to what is happening and don’t necessarily let it wash over you.
- Always ask yourself, ‘What does this development mean for me and my business?’
- Don’t let your clients dictate the narrative with respect to technology. You need to guide and lead them.
Playing on a bigger field
It’s little surprise that the future plans for Accodex are vast. “Accodex is a much larger play than a cloud accounting firm,” says Chris. “Its purpose is ‘to democratize business intelligence globally.’”
As Chris says on their website, ‘We will not rest until every founder and CEO has got access to full stack business intelligence in real time on their smartphone (or Augmented Reality Glasses).’
So when it comes to reaching platinum partner status, Chris’ biggest tip is to lead by design and not by default. Your clients will thank you for it.