Rod Drury expects to double the size of his Xero accounting system development team in the next six months in pursuit of another high-tech success.
Xero is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) accounting system which is built using Web 2.0 technologies. Drury says the internet has changed everything for small businesses, with technologies such as Ajax and XML web services now allowing developers to build great web interfaces.
“But we also think that SMEs [small- and medium-sized enterprises] don’t like to pay $50 for a support call, so we’re building community aspects into the site as well, [for example] wiki technology”, he says.
“We’re using all the technologies that we have been learning in the Web 2.0 space and applying that to a very high-value problem for small businesses.”
Drury has been involved in a number of small businesses and has been frustrated by the various accounting systems. “[Xero is the] accounting system I have always wanted”, he says.
There are 24 staff on the Xero team now, Drury says, and he has started hiring in the UK and Australia.
Drury stayed with email archivist Aftermail as an international sales evangelist after the company was sold to US software vendor Quest last January. However, he left Quest in the middle of the year to work on Xero full-time. The purpose of Aftermail was to build a capital base, he says.“It was always designed as a trade sale. I think enterprise software is something that is very difficult for us to do long term as New Zealanders, but with software-as-a-service we can build a long-term business from New Zealand.”
Interaction design is a key part of Xero, and the team has done a significant amount of design work “up front” and a lot of prototyping, Drury says.
The Xero team has built testing into the framework, which is important to SaaS, he says. A lot of R&D has also been put into breaking transactions out, so that, for example, a UK-specific system and a New Zealand-specific system can run on the same code base, he says.
“We are also doing a lot of work to make sure that we eliminate drag as we grow quickly, which should allow us to add new countries faster than anybody else.”
In addition, the company has been working with a number of banks to get daily feeds of bank statement data.
The system will be publicly available in May.