Archive for the 'Enprise' 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!

Datagate welcomes new investors and a new director

December 5, 2015

Datagate

Today I am very pleased to announce that Datagate Innovation Limited has signed up two new shareholders, Ice Angels Nominees Ltd and NZVIF Investments Ltd, as well as gaining a highly-respected non-executive director, Malcolm MacDonald.

The new shareholders have invested a total of $569,000 of new capital into Datagate, bringing the total capital raised in Datagate’s current investment round up to $1,219,429 so far.

The investors were led by Malcolm MacDonald, a successful IT entrepreneur, having been a founder of BankLink, a major New Zealand based accounting software success story, that was sold to MYOB in 2013 for $139M.

Malcolm joins the current Datagate board, consisting of Dr. Jens Neiser (representing NZAX-listed Enprise Group Ltd) and myself. I am extremely pleased to be working with Malcolm and Jens as fellow directors, who are both very knowledgeable, experienced and successful individuals in their own right.

I am also delighted to have the Ice Angels and NZVIF join Datagate as investors. The Ice Angels’ members have already been very helpful to Datagate and myself with strategic advice and valuable introductions.

Datagage is expecting to be able to announce further new investors within this round, in the very near future.

NZAX:ENS Enprise Group’s market announcement

Enprise moves to a tighter focus

November 7, 2015

This has been a momentous week for Enprise Group, with the sale of Enprise Software (our SAP-aligned software development business) and getting shareholder approval to allow new investors to invest directly in to Datagate (formerly a 100% subsidiary of Enprise Group).

These changes bring about a much stronger and sharper focus to each of the current and former Enprise Group businesses.

Enprise Solutions is the only business remaining 100% within Enprise Group and it is tightly focused on selling and supporting MYOB Enterprise software solutions to mid sized businesses in New Zealand and Australia. It has nearly 1,000 customers in total across both countries and is the clear market leader in New Zealand. Enprise Solutions is a strong, growing and profitable business that gives excellent support to its customers.

Enprise Software is now part of ProjectLine, a very successful North American SAP partner that is dedicated to sales and support of SAP Business One. That puts Enprise Software into a home much more aligned with it’s core business, which is Enprise Job for SAP Business One.

Datagate Innovation is now the master of its own destiny, with its own board of directors and its own shareholder base (including Enprise Group). My own personal focus is on working with the Datagate team to make this business a winner on a global scale. Datagate is all about monetising on-line services, the Cloud, billing and customer portals – an excellent focus for building value!

Datagate gains new shareholders, new board and increased independence

November 7, 2015

Datagate Innovation Ltd

On Wednesday this week, Enprise Group held a public meeting of shareholders to approve resolutions to allow Datagate Innovation Ltd to issue up to 2.5M new $1 shares to new shareholders and to allow me (as a director of Enprise Group) to buy shares in Datagate at a pre-money valuation of $1.5M. This allows investors to invest directly in to Datagate and for Datagate to become its own more-independent vehicle.

As soon as these resolutions were passed I wasted no time in buying Datagate shares, along with two other investors. More investors will follow in buying Datagate shares in due course, bringing even more new capital in to the business.

This has changed Datagate’s shareholder composition from being 100% owned by Enprise Group to being partly owned by Enprise Group and partly owned by other shareholders (including myself). As of today, Enprise Group owns approximately 70% and other shareholders approximately 30% of Datagate. This will of course change further as other shareholders come on board.

Datagate’s board of directors currently consists of Dr. Jens Neiser as chairman (representing Enprise Group) and myself. Other directors will be added in due course.

Enprise Software sold to ProjectLine, Canada

November 5, 2015

Derin_Elliot_1

This morning Enprise Group announced the conditional sale of its SAP software business, Enprise Software to Canadian SAP partner, ProjectLine.

I see this as a very positive move that will benefit the customers and partners of Enprise Software, whilst enabling Enprise Group to consolidate its focus on its two remaining businesses, Enprise Solutions and Datagate Innovation.

ProjectLine has been a very active reseller of Enprise Software products in the Canadian market and their team has a high level of expertise in Enprise products as well as the North American SAP Business One market. Their branches across Canada put them in the right time zones to give superior support to Enprise Software partners and customers right across North America and beyond. All current Enprise Software staff members will be retained within the business and Enprise Software Inc. will be a separate entity within the ProjectLine group.

Most of Enprise Software’s partners and customers reside in North America, so will be better off by having more localised support. All of Enprise Software’s partners and customers will benefit from the bigger team now backing the Enprise products.

Derin Hildebrandt (pictured) and his team at ProjectLine are high quality professionals, with a lot of experience in the SAP Business One market. They have an excellent reputation and I’m certain that Enprise Software and its team, partners and customers are in good hands. I wish them all the best!

Elliot and Derin
Elliot Cooper and Derin Hildebrandt
Derin Hildebrandt and Mark Loveys
Derin Hildebrandt and Mark Loveys
Derin and Cathy
Cathy Masters and Derin Hildebrandt

BankLink co-founder invests in Enprise Group

September 16, 2015

Among Enprise’s market announcements made last week, one of the most significant was the investment made by Malcolm MacDonald, one of New Zealand’s most successful tech entrepreneurs, who bought 500,000 Enprise Group (NZAX:ENS) shares at 50 cents each.

Malcolm MacDonald-web-crop

In addition to investing in Enprise Group, Malcolm is also in the process of investing directly in to our Datagate business.

Malcolm was one of the founders and directors of BankLink, a very successful accounting software business that had direct data links to all the banks in New Zealand and Australia. BankLink was sold to MYOB in 2013 for $136M.

I am thrilled to have Malcolm join Enprise and Datagate. We have big aspirations for these businesses and Malcolm brings a significant amount of experience, expertise and wisdom to our group to help us achieve them.

Elliot Cooper is new CEO of Enprise Group

September 15, 2015

This month, Enprise co-founder and former CFO, Elliot Cooper has taken up the CEO role at Enprise Group and I have shifted to a new role as CEO of our Cloud start-up business, Datagate Innovation Ltd.

Elliot Cooper 11224_138 for web

Elliot and I have worked together in a number of technology businesses, starting from PC Direct in the mid 1990’s, then Exonet (creating the software now known as MYOB EXO), then Datasquirt, Enprise and EMS-Cortex.

Elliot was the initial designer of our popular “Enprise Job” Job Costing module for SAP Business One. The product is often praised as having the best General Ledger integration of all the Project Costing modules available for Business One and this is thanks mainly to Elliot’s initial design.

After being the CEO for thirteen years, it makes a nice change for me to go back to running an early stage start-up business, along with another of my long-term colleagues, Steve Southon.

Enprise Group is in good hands with Elliot at the helm. Nobody knows that business better than he does and he’s been there right from the start.

Enprise America at Austin ASUG

September 3, 2015

IMG_2943c

This week Cathy Masters and I traveled to Austin, Texas and attended the ASUG SAP Business One Summit, along with Greg Robinson and Kevin Smith of Enprise America.

This annual ASUG event is a great opportunity to catch up with Enprise’s North American reseller partners along with their customers and prospects.

This year, Cathy and Kevin demonstrated the latest versions of Enprise Job and Enprise Anywhere to our partners and their prospects.

During one of the breakout sessions, Ron Mondor of Zantek IT and Moty Moshin of coresystems demonstrated a fully integrated mobile job costing solution, comprising coresuite time, Enprise Job and SAP Business One.

Enprise adds North American presence

August 19, 2015

PilotSolutions1

Enprise Software has recently partnered with USA-based Pilot Solutions to be “Enprise North America”, offering local sales, technical and implementation support to North American Enprise channel partners.

The United States and Canada are very important, strategic markets for Enprise. Our new North American office offers local support in North American time zones. It gives our network of American and Canadian partners access to specialist resources that extend their own teams when dealing with Enprise add-ons. These include pre-sales engagements, marketing and lead development as well as implementation and consulting services.

In addition to our new local presence, we have some great new products, like “Enprise Anywhere” and “Enprise Job for SAP HANA” which we think will drive more sales for the North American channel.

Greg Robinson and Kevin Smith of Pilot Solutions (pictured above in Miami, Florida) have been friends of mine and the Enprise team for many years. They have an exceptionally good level of knowledge and experience around Enprise products and the SAP Business One channel.

I’m extremely glad to have Greg, Kevin and the Pilot team working in North America, as part of the Enprise team.

Enprise using SAP HANA hosted by I-BN

June 24, 2015

i-bn_logo

Enprise‘s development team has recently switched to using an SAP HANA development environment, hosted by I-BN.

We have been delighted with the quality of service that we’ve received from Gary Feldman and his team at I-BN. They are very responsive to our requests and have deep expertise in the software and technology they are working with.

Based in Georgia USA, I-BN are specialists in hosting business software in the Cloud. In particular they specialize and have many years of experience in hosting SAP Business One and the SAP HANA platform.