Archive for the 'Cortex' Category

20 years on: Exonet – my first major software start-up exit

July 30, 2020

In July 2000 I was on top of the world. My co-founders and I had just sold “Exonet”, our New Zealand-based financial software start-up, to an Australian listed company called “Solution6” for AU $30M.

It was the culmination of a fast and furious two years since we started the business. I was the developer who had the outlandish idea to start writing an accounting system and bring in co-founders Maurice Bryham and David McKee Wright to help build a business around it.

Exonet was a “new generation” ERP client-server accounting system with a Windows interface, running on an SQL database. It was all new technology back then, when most accounting systems for SME businesses were still running on MS-DOS with proprietary databases.

Exonet opened offices in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. Hwa Lian Tan led our business in Singapore and Simon Butler led our Australian business. Simon’s M&A experience was invaluable in our negotiations with Solution6.

Due to widespread fears about how old accounting software would handle the year 2000 and the market’s desire for the new technology that Exonet was built on, our sales “went ballistic” from the start and exhibited the upward “hockey stick” sales trend that software start-ups still aspire to. This was what attracted Solution6 to acquire us.

Exonet’s main investor was a VC company called IT Capital. At the time of the exit, I recall they had been with Exonet for about 18 months, had invested NZD $1.5M and effectively owned about a third of the business. A $12.7M return on an 18 month investment of NZD $1.5M – that’s still got to be one of the best investments ever made in the business history of New Zealand!

Following its acquisition of Exonet, Solution6 merged with another large Australian software business called MYOB (“Mind Your Own Business”) and so the Exonet software was renamed to MYOB-EXO. Today MYOB-EXO is perhaps the most widely used of the mid-market ERP accounting packages in Australia and New Zealand, with many thousands of companies using it.

Some of the lessons I learnt from the Exonet experience are;

  1. Success comes from a combination of skills, lots of hard work and lots of luck.
  2. Much of the skill required is in recognizing the luck that surrounds you, and knowing what to do with it.
  3. Business success invariably comes from a team of people; specifically, the combined skills, motivation and dedication of those people and the interplay of how they work together.
  4. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

After the exit, I worked for the Exonet business within Solution6 for a short while and then decided to take some time out, away from business. It was during that time out I realized that, although I reached the destination of an exit, I still missed the journey of getting there. I missed the energy and engagement of the business world, so I dived back in again and co-founded two new software businesses; Enprise and Datasquirt.

Much of the skill required is in recognizing the luck that surrounds you, and knowing what to do with it.

Enprise became of a group of businesses, of which two operated internationally, with a particular emphasis on the United States. One of those was EMS-Cortex, a SaaS software provisioning system that we sold to Citrix in 2011 for US $11M. Also in 2011, we sold ASX-listed Datasquirt to Silicon Valley-based LiveOps for a similar price.

The international software business experience and contacts I gained through Enprise and EMS Cortex set me up for my current role as CEO of Datagate, where I am now based in Vancouver, Canada. Datagate is a SaaS billing solution for MSPs who sell telecom services, which we sell into the USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Another thing I’ve learnt over the last twenty years since the Exonet exit; it normally takes much longer than two years to build a good business!

Enprise’s team has a long history in building business value

November 18, 2014

Enprise Group and its team have a strong track record in building valuable businesses. Here are some high-profile, high-value businesses that form part of Enprise’s value-creation history.

PC Direct

PC Direct (1989–1998)
PC Direct manufactured, distributed and supported personal computers under its own brand in New Zealand. Its sales channel was the direct, phone-based, channel by-passing the reseller network. Growth of PC Direct to become the #1 reseller of desktop computers in New Zealand was leveraged off the company’s integrated system – linking design, inventory, production, sales, despatch, service and accounting. The systems developed by PC Direct provided one of the company’s main competitive advantages.
Enprise CEO Mark Loveys, Enprise CFO Elliot Cooper and Enprise Datagate COO Steve Southon were all members of the executive management team of PC Direct and all made significant contributions to building the automated systems of the business.
Business sold in 1996 for NZ$ 27M

Exonet

Exonet (1998-2000)
Exonet was an ERP software company founded by Mark Loveys, Maurice Bryham and David McKee Wright that developed the Exonet suite of business software that is the top-selling mid-market ERP in Australia and New Zealand, owned by MYOB and known as MYOB EXO. Enprise Solutions is the top reseller of MYOB EXO in New Zealand with sales offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne.
Enprise CEO Mark Loveys was a founder and original developer of Exonet. Enprise CFO Elliot Cooper was CFO and a product designer. Enprise Datagate COO Steve Southon was Development Manager.
Business sold in 2000 for A$ 30M

Datasquirt

Datasquirt (2000-2011)
Datasquirt was a Cloud software company that developed a non-voice multi-channel messaging solution for corporate contact centres. Datasquirt floated on the ASX in 2007 and had offices in Auckland, Sydney and London. The business was sold in 2011 and the remaining listed shell acquired the Enprise businesses, renaming itself to Enprise Group Ltd.
Enprise CEO Mark Loveys was a founder and original developer of Datasquirt. Enprise CFO Elliot Cooper joined as CFO. Enprise directors Lindsay Philips and Jens Neiser were directors and investors in Datasquirt.
Business sold in 2011 for US$ 12.5M

EMS Cortex

EMS Cortex (2006-2011)
EMS Cortex was a Cloud software company that was acquired by Enprise in 2006 for NZ$ 2.52M as part of an investment in Enprise by TMT Ventures. EMS Cortex created a Cloud Control Panel for provisioning Cloud Software. Key customers were Telecom NZ, Telus of Canada, Melbourne IT and other major Telcos & Hosting Companies around the world
Enprise CEO Mark Loveys and Enprise CFO Elliot Cooper were CEO and CFO respectively, while EMS Cortex was a division of Enprise.
Business sold in 2011 for US$ 11.5M

The Future
Today our focus is on building the businesses of Enprise Group, which are Enprise Solutions, Enprise Software and Datagate Innovation.

Enprise Group Ltd will be listed on the NZAX stock exchange under the code “ENS” from Monday 1st December 2014.

Enprise acquires Datagate Innovation

April 3, 2014

Datagate acquisition


Mark Loveys and Tim Mulcock

This week Enprise announced its acquisition of Datagate Innovation Limited, which is a Cloud Software Developer that specializes in on-line reporting and billing portals for Hosted Service Providers, Telco’s and Utility Companies.

Following the acquisition, Datagate’s founder, Tim Mulcock is staying on to lead Datagate in the role of Managing Director and he also becomes a significant shareholder in the wider Enprise Group.

Prior to founding Datagate, Tim was a co-founder of EMS Cortex, a global Cloud Control Panel provider for the Cloud/hosting industry – which was acquired by Enprise and subsequently sold to Citrix Corporation in 2011. Tim also has extensive industry experience, gained from working within Telecom New Zealand and also as a co-founder of Bizo – a New Zealand hosted service provider that was later sold to Orcon.

I’m enthusiastic about the synergies between Datagate and Enprise. Datagate will leverage Enprise’s extensive international contacts within the hosting industry (from our time with EMS Cortex) and also leverage our strong background in Business Management and ERP Software. Already, Datagate and Enprise Solutions are talking in unison with common potential customers.

Enprise will also benefit from Datagate’s laser-sharp industry focus on Cloud and Hosted Service Providers – which is a strong global market vertical that Enprise can apply to its international sales channel and ERP-based partnerships.

Specialisation is so important when you’re operating in the large global markets. This will be a strong new focus for Enprise.

New Era for Enprise and DSQ

September 5, 2012

On September 21st at the Annual General Meeting of ASX-listed DSQ Holdings Limited, shareholders will vote on a proposal to acquire the Enprise Group of businesses. If accepted, this will effectively enable the back-door listing of Enprise where it will transform from being a private company to becoming an Australian-listed public company. DSQ Holdings Ltd will transform from being a publicly listed “cash-box” (with no business operations) to becoming the Enprise Group.

For me, the idea of DSQ and Enprise becoming one and the same is certainly an exciting prospect. I have always wanted to build an innovative, expansive and profitable public company and I have been extensively involved in both of these two businesses over the last decade, being a founder and director of both.

In the past, Enprise & DSQ have been successful in building up international software businesses which were then acquired by major American companies. In 2011, Enprise sold its EMS-Cortex business to Citrix and DSQ sold its Datasquirt business to LiveOps.

The new Enprise will maintain a strategy aimed at sustainable growth, running the business as a cash earner rather than a cash burner. Enprise is the perfect platform for growth with its extensive global channels-to-market for business management software.

2Cloud.biz
Included in the proposed Enprise Group acquisition is a one third share in a great new start-up business called 2cloud.biz which is a specialized Cloud Hosting Service provider aimed at the SME ERP market. At present it offers automated provisioning of hosted MYOB EXO systems and is marketed through the channel of MYOB EXO resellers throughout New Zealand and Australia. This business is experiencing rapid early stage growth and is a perfect example of how the Enprise Group can leverage its existing channels-to-market to launch new opportunities.

Enprise Solutions
Enprise Solutions is a Platinum MYOB EXO reseller in both Australia and New Zealand. It has offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Melbourne, Sydney and Wellington. The business is experiencing considerable demand from customers in Australia and our two Australian offices which were established earlier this year are driving a significant portion of our growth. Enprise’s goal is to achieve full regional coverage of Australia and New Zealand within the next 24 months.

Enprise Software
Enprise Software is a Gold Certified Solution Partner for the globally-marketed SAP Business One ERP platform. Enprise’s solutions include the popular Enprise Job Costing and Enprise Rent packages, amongst others. Sales and distribution is via a global channel of SAP certified resellers. There is much growth potential in this business unit as new demand grows for Cloud-based and mobility solutions in addition to SAP’s exciting new in-memory HANA platform.

Citrix acquires EMS-Cortex business

February 23, 2011

This week Enprise Group is very pleased to announce that the assets of EMS-Cortex (one of the businesses of the Enprise Group) were acquired by global technology leader, Citrix Systems Inc. Citrix has approximately 5,000 staff worldwide and annual revenues exceeding US $1.8 billion.

We are absolutely delighted with the deal and I think this is a very positive development for all stakeholders in EMS-Cortex including customers, staff, management, shareholders and investors.

Citrix has hired all of the staff from EMS-Cortex and intends to continue developing the Cortex Cloud Control Panel from Auckland New Zealand. The business unit will continue to be led locally by former EMS-Cortex General Manager, Colin Williams, who will in turn report directly to Bill Burley, a Citrix Vice President based in Florida, who is the General Manager of the Citrix Cloud App Delivery Group.

The Cortex Cloud Control Panel, which is used by Hosted Service Providers around the world to provision and manage Cloud applications, is now owned by one of the world’s most innovative and respected technology leaders.

Another outcome of this deal is that it will result in Citrix having a bigger presence in New Zealand in the form of a local development arm. I’m optimistic that this will result in a further New Zealand-based jobs and opportunities being created going forward.

It is great to see our investors, who include TMT Ventures and the NZVIF realise a great return on their investment in EMS-Cortex and the Enprise Group. The millions of dollars returned to them through this EMS-Cortex deal will no doubt end up being re-invested back into the New Zealand IT industry, creating further jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders.

I look forward to seeing the EMS-Cortex team and the Cortex Cloud Control Panel go from strength to strength as part of the global Citrix business. For my part, I shall now be focusing my energies on the remaining two great businesses of the Enprise Group; Enprise New Zealand and Enprise Software.

For Citrix’s perspective, refer to the blog of Vice President and General Manager, Citrix Cloud App Delivery Group, Bill Burley.

Enprise Press Release re EMS Cortex and Citrix

NZ Herald, 9th March 2011 – US giant shows the Lovey with buy out

TELUS of Canada sees growth in hosted services double with Cortex

December 22, 2010

“Cortex typically supports new Microsoft releases within 90 days – which is twice as fast as our previous control panel vendor.”

TELUS hosted service customers are embracing the self-service capability provided by Cortex software. TELUS Customer Solutions is using the Cortex cloud control panel to support hosted Exchange, SharePoint, Microsoft Office Communications Server, and Blackberry Enterprise Server.

“Cortex is supporting TELUS’ strategy of differentiating itself in the market by giving customers the tools to combine new products with existing ones,” says Renaldo Scalabrino, Marketing Director TELUS Customer Solutions.

“We offer our customers the ability to add hosted Exchange to business Internet or Blackberry services, for example,” he says. “With Cortex self service,TELUS customers can add or remove users and select the services and service levels they want for each of their employees. These changes are automatically reflected in their monthly bill. Customers can try things on a smaller scale because it is so easy for them to self provision. Blackberry add-ons to email is one example: people are adding the Blackberry service to their existing email account. It’s a very good growth path.”

TELUS Case Study

Why Cloud Service Providers are so Passionate about the Cortex Cloud Control Panel…

October 12, 2010

The EMS Cortex Cloud Control Panel has a rapidly-expanding customer base that now includes some of the leading and largest Cloud Service Providers from around the world.

This has not been achieved by spending a fortune on global marketing, but rather by a concentrated focus on quality, product innovation and good-old customer service.

Here are some recent quotes from Neil van Straaten of Internet Solutions, South Africa – one of EMS Cortex’s largest, market-leading customers;

“Cortex is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else
– from an international perspective it’s the de facto interface for hosted Exchange.”

“We are winning more business now, and Cortex is our biggest differentiator. Ease of use is the thing that clients can truly see and appreciate, and when we show clients the Cortex interface, they say ‘Wow’”.

“There’s no impact on client service, no need to sit down with the client and go through changes. We tell the client about the cutover, but the only thing that changes for them is the admin URL. Everything else just keeps working.”

“We’ve really noticed that once people are receiving hosted Exchange, they tend to sign up for additional services. Before Cortex, we had no ability for clients to have one interface to provision different services – now we do.”

“Cortex has slashed deployment times by 70%. It’s our sole management interface for both administrators and users.”

“The manuals are excellent – the client doesn’t need to know any technical details at all.”

“Our resellers can provision a new client on the platform themselves, in five or six clicks. We just sit back and let resellers deploy clients as quickly as they possibly can. We want to set up everyone as a reseller and let them go wild with the market. It’s very exciting for us.”

These quotes are extracted from an EMS Cortex Case Study featuring Internet Solutions of South Africa.

For more information about the Cortex Cloud Control Panel, contact sales@ems-cortex.com

A happy Cortex-equipped Venyu in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

August 20, 2010

Here is some great customer feedback that our team at EMS Cortex received today from Eric Malatesta of Venyu, a valued Cortex Service Provider based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has started using the Cortex Cloud Control Panel to manage their hosted services.

First, what an awesome product. Cortex Provisioning has been all I could imagine, and more!!!!!!!!! We are having a lot of success with this product, and our clients love the easy to use interface. My administrators are loving it as well, and have little need to ever log into the backend servers at all. I think of this product as the beginning to a lot of my other projects.

Thank you for the kind words Eric and congratulations to the team at EMS Cortex.

Citrix Technology is a Key Success Driver for the Cloud & Service Providers

June 18, 2010

EMS Cortex has always supported and been a strong advocate of Citrix products and technology because we believe that a truly successful Cloud strategy requires that ALL of a business’s applications reside in the Cloud – not just some of them.

Given that so many business applications are based on Microsoft Windows and given that Citrix is the technology & market leader in delivering scalable, efficient and reliable remote access & virtualization to Windows applications and desktops, it’s hardly surprising the so many of our Service Provider partners are also Citrix Service Provider partners.

We see our product Cortex as the “Single Pane of Glass” that provisions and manages all of the popular Microsoft applications (such as Exchange, Sharepoint, CRM, OCS etc) along with the nearly infinite list of applications that can be delivered using Citrix XenApp technology.

During the last couple of months, EMS Cortex has been working more closely with Citrix and in particular with Scott Swanburg, who heads the Citrix Service Provider program.

See what Scott and Citrix Engineers have to say about EMS Cortex in this Blog.

EMS Cortex in good company with Microsoft’s Dynamic Data Center Alliance

May 17, 2010

EMS Cortex is one of five technology partners included in the Microsoft Dynamic Data Center Alliance, along with NetApp, Compellent, F5 and EMC.

This is a program designed to bring together an ecosystem of partners including hosters, system integrators, hardware manufacturers and software vendors who partner with Microsoft to offer rich and differentiated value around the Dynamic Data Center Toolkit for Hosters and the Dynamic Infrastructure Toolkit for System Center.

Dynamic Data Center Alliance