Last night in London after a frantic but fun week meeting partners in the UK. I landed last Sunday, heading directly to Bristol’s balmy 30 degree weather and since then we’ve hit the Midlands, London, Newcastle, York and Manchester. Close to a 1000 miles in a week.
One of the highlights was presenting in the ICAEW Accountants Hall. An amazing building. Here’s Gary in full flight …
Another big highlight was meeting a few of our team in person for the first time. Paddy, Glen, Debbie (who’s online demo’s are so good they are called Debinars) and Darren of the North. Here’s Darren, me and Gary in Newcastle.
It’s a great feeling to be part of a global team of really smart and fun people. We talk at each end of the day over Skype and Yammer but there’s nothing like spending a few days on the road to get in sync.
Some of the things I noted during this trip:
- The UK is tough market, the GFC really knocked it around, but we’re receiving an overwhelmingly positive response to what we’re doing. Many partners have tried a few online products and now know the space and vendors. It’s very gratifying to see them understand the depth of what we’re building into Xero. We’re starting to pick up quite a few customers from other products as experienced partners realize the investment required to do things properly. It’s also good to see that they understand how online accounting products need a client-side and accountant-side view. The market is quickly becoming more sophisticated.
- I was impressed by the network of ‘Virtual Assistants’ around the UK. Smart and energetic people who are providing a variety of services to many small businesses.
- Social media is huge in the UK. Everyone is on twitter. We were leaving a virtual twitter trail behind us. I was impressed the Virtual Assistants run a Skype public chat and have a great community going. Gary was asking questions over Skype chat while we were driving between venues. We’re seeing very strong communities and friendships being made online.
- Everyone has an iPhone, and in a country like the UK the iPhone is super useful. It’s a GPS, it finds the cafe’s, it tells you what plane is flying overhead, it joins you to the conversation 24×7. The iPhone knew about the platform our Newcastle train would be on before the station board. Or as Gary said “did the iPhone decide”
We had a good session with BT. If you thought it was hard work getting a marketing partnership with a big carrier, that was nothing compared to the work required to link into their provisioning process. After a long time and a lot of effort in the UK, India and NZ our order journey on the BT site is now live.
We’re building a good profile in the industry and we finish off tomorrow with four media interviews.
In terms of market acceptance we’re probably a year to 18 months behind where we are at in NZ, but we have a great team in place and a rapidly growing network of fantastic partners in the UK. It’s been very nice to meet many of them in the past week.