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Software start-up 9 Spokes to launch online dashboard in October

Monday 5th September 2016

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ASX-listed software startup 9 Spokes says its online dashboard for small businesses will launch in October.

The New Zealand company co-founded four years ago by Mark Estall and Adrian Grant operates a platform that small businesses can use to aggregate their various cloud computing apps in one place.

It’s estimated that small business will spend US$4.16 billion this year on cloud-based apps.

The dashboard mines information from the apps to give small to medium sized companies a real-time view of how their business is performing and the data is benchmarked against their peers in the same industry.   

It raised A$25 million in an initial public offer on the ASX in June for its aggressive international expansion plans and chief operating officer Brendan Roberts told conference-goers at the annual Morgo event for kiwi entrepreneurs, that the next few months were focused on execution.

“The next quarter is all about going to market,” he said.

9 Spokes’ product will be offered free to small businesses who can purchase recommended apps for their industry which the start-up clips the ticket for. It provides them with one bill rather than multiple accounts from technology providers.

The start-up will use its own label to learn, iterate, and experiment but the real strategy is for the product to be rebranded and sold by partners such as advisory and financial services firms to boost subscriber numbers, Roberts said. 

First off the rank is Propel by Deloitte in the UK with the business advisory firm having piloted it with UK clients to see what makes a difference to their businesses in order to offer additional support beyond the core accounting service.

9 Spokes has also signed up Barclays Bank in the UK which will also launch a bespoke product in the next few months and insurance company Suncorp. Roberts said it was also in talks with two large US firms.

Part of the thinking behind listing was to check off due diligence concerns from the high-end corporates it’s selling to. It always intended being global from day one and has a board made up of international members including former Telecom boss Paul Reynolds as non-executive chairman, UK-based social media guru Thomas Power, and former Walt Disney and Ticketmaster executive Wendy Webb.

So far 9 Spokes has partnered with more than 50 software-as-service cloud app makers including Xero, MYOB, and Dropbox. It claims to give SMES using the platform a steer on the “best of the breed” for their industry.

Roberts said the start-up have been through a massive “growth spurt” this year, going from 18 staff at the last Christmas party to 86 now, with 10 based in its new London office and the rest in New Zealand. It has spent $225,000 on recruitment agency fees this year but Roberts said it had also saved $500,000 by recruiting 70 percent of new staff directly through its own networks.

Some of the lessons learnt so far in dealing with big brands has been, “the tyranny of time” with expectations staff will be available 24/7.

“They have a lot of money, power, and say”, he said, which means a lot of scrutiny as you’re trying to ramp up the business and they’re not too forgiving of any mistakes.

9 Spokes shares are currently trading at 17c, after listing at 20c per share, which gave the company an A$80 million valuation.

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