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Xero: the platform that powers small business

Posted 6 months ago in Apps by Nick Houldsworth

I became a Xero customer back in 2009. It was the first business software that helped me navigate the challenges of running a small business. When I started connecting Xero with other services, like bank feeds, and workflow apps, then I realised the potential Xero offered to transform all small businesses, and the lives of people working in them. To give them back time, grow their business, and allow them to do more of what they love.

In 2011, I joined an early stage startup, and Xero ecosystem partner, Vend, and helped grow that business to a team of 200+ and more than 20,000 customers worldwide. I’ve been proud to be on the Xero team since 2017, still on a personal mission to help bring the benefits of cloud technology to millions of small businesses and their advisors.

Our platform is what makes Xero truly unique. I’d like to share with you more about our platform journey, give you a sneak peak at what the future looks like, and why it is so important for realising our mission at Xero.

In 2007, Xero entered the market, breaking ground with a single ledger and automated bank feeds in the cloud. We delivered a single-function product. It did one thing, brilliantly.

Over time, we opened up our APIs and worked with a handful of third party developers. By 2011 we launched our certified add-on program, with fewer than 10 apps. Our bank feeds expanded as more financial institutions joined our ecosystem, and our developers kept expanding and adding value to the platform.

We started to see the platform come to life, connecting people and spawning an ecosystem that allowed value to be created and, more importantly, exchanged.

And all of these real time connections across banks via feeds, financial products, business tools, creates the network effect that drives the rise of platform economies and – something much greater than the sum of its parts.

Today we have more than 1,000 plugins, and our most popular features are bank feeds – over half of them direct feeds – and we’ve extended the platform in ways we could never have imagined 10 years ago.

According to the Xero Small Business Fintech Outlook report, over half of small businesses had financial challenges in the last five years and 25% of them were in the last 12 months. What’s so exciting about the platform is that as it grows, were seeing it begin to help solve some of the greatest challenges for small businesses around the world like having strong visibility of their financial situation, getting paid faster and gaining access to lending.

The future is dynamic and exciting as we together move Xero forward from a product, to a platform. The platform we’re building will deliver leading-edge, data-driven technology to small businesses and their advisors. Through it, we’ll be able to create deep connections with millions of small businesses and their advisors around the world, so that collectively they are as powerful, or more powerful than, the biggest companies.

And we can leverage this collective power and the trillions of data points that these connections create. We can put data-driven technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to work. This technology was previously only accessible to large companies, but collectively we’re able to make small business, big business.

With this in mind, I was thrilled to announce two new platform products and features today.

A newcomer to our long list of connections with the world’s largest banks

As part of our platform journey, Xero has pioneered direct integrations with some of the world’s largest banks, including Wells Fargo, BBVA and Capital One. Currently, we have more than 200 banks and financial institutions who are connected with us via our platform, and we are adding new ones all the time.

Our latest connection is with the US fintech company, Novo.

This modern no-fee digital banking platform for small business owners and entrepreneurs has jumped on board and will be the first US fintech company to integrate cloud accounting, empowering entrepreneurs to focus more on business and less on accounting.

Fintech companies like Novo are appealing to small businesses and younger entrepreneurs because you can set up a bank account from your phone and get real-time insights into your business immediately. We’re excited to have Novo on board and know the benefits this connection will bring to our shared subscribers.

A smart new App Marketplace

The Xero Small Business Fintech Outlook report also found US small businesses believe the ability to choose key apps or software with dynamic pricing is one of the strongest financial software preferences.

Our redesigned Xero App Marketplace makes it easier than ever for small businesses to discover and choose apps to build the toolkit that suits them.

We have rebuilt our marketplace to facilitate the next ten years of innovation. At the heart of this will be a personalised and intuitive experience, building on the launch of our in-app view and client recommendations available directly from HQ Explorer.

However, we don’t stop there. In cases where we know a workflow or an app is of high importance to our subscribers or their advisors, we can build a deep product partnership with an app ourselves, much in the same way as we have with banking partners.

For example, our integration with Mailchimp extends the Xero contacts feature to allow a seamless experience for digital marketing, and likewise our Trello connection builds on the need for effective financial time and job tracking to align with project management.

The new App Marketplace also makes it easier for advisors to find the tools suited to their practice, and recommend the right apps for their clients.

We’ve come a long away from the single ledger that did one thing brilliantly. Today our Xero platform is rich with tools and connections that are transforming the way we do accounting and the way we do business.

Over a million small businesses, and their advisors are looking for the best cloud apps that integrate with Xero. Partner with us, and we’ll make sure they find yours.

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