How one Aussie start-up is selling SaaS to the world

If the technology industry today had a slogan, the billboard would read — “the world is your oyster”.

Originating from Shakespeare, the concept that businesses can capitalise on the opportunities that life has to offer has encapsulated the Australian channel, leading to a surge of partner expansion plans across the globe.

Through looking beyond a nation or a region, businesses are leveraging software-as-a-service (SaaS) demand to develop new offerings for customers from across all corners of the world.

Because the global SaaS sell is appealing, with market valuations sky rocketing as customers consume, consume and consume.

And the ripple effect is far- reaching, with Australian IT services company eNerds launching a SaaS start-up, spinning off from the main brand to target managed service providers (MSP) across the world.

Under the banner of Invarosoft, the new business serves a brand-new category across the channel, zoning in on Client Portal Software.

Specifically, the start-up offers IT providers, MSPs and IT departments a front-end application designed to “super-charge” ticketing or professional services automation (PSA) back-end capabilities.

Delivered through ITSupportPanel, ITNewsPanel and ITAppsPanel features, Invarosoft — which taps into Autotask and ConnectWise ecosystems — aims to provide increased support experience for MSPs, aiding business profitability in the process.

“We decided to commercialise the internal IP of eNerds to solve a problem we felt wasn’t being solved by the available tools in the market,” Invarosoft CEO Jamie Warner said.

“The problem was that the PSA, remote monitoring and management (RMM), documentation and dashboard tools were all focused on the MSP — not the end-user.

“The end-user’s experience of IT support was less than impressive with hard to find web portals which meant they still called and emailed for support. They had no visibility of their IT provider and wasted a huge amount of time on the phone.”

Consequently, Warner and his team built ITSupportPanel, enabling the end-user to view a streamlined IT portal across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android platforms.

“No more confusion, no username or password, just an easy to find IT button to get access to support, news, feedback and apps,” added

Warner, who said the feature helps reduce in-bound support calls by 50 per cent. “It provided eNerds with a unique selling proposition to win more monthly support deals.”

Alongside improved satisfaction levels among customers, Warner said added benefits also include increased capacity for engineers to carry out billable hours, rather than spending time completing the admin work associated to logging a ticket.

Built from the ground up

After launching eNerds in 2000, Warner remain challenged to brand his services and improve productivity, leading to the creation of an internal product in 2009.

With an early version of ITSupportPanel born 12 months later, the new platform enabled end-user access to a streamlined branded portal, spanning IT support and ticket logs, as well as feedback and news reading capabilities.

Through using ITSupportPanel internally, Warner doubled the size of eNerds organically, sprouting to over 40 staff and more than $7 million in revenue.

Warner began commercialising the product in 2014, taking three years to build before launching in 2017.

“Most of our MSP competitors used the same great below-the-line PSA, RMM and documentation tools, but nothing to provide on-going value for end-users,” Warner explained. “ITSupportPanel provided for the first time an above-the-line branded platform which clients could use every day to increase their productivity.

ITSupportPanel enabled us to win more MRR deals, reduce in- bound support calls and increase our referrals, NPS scores and fees.”

From an MSP perspective, Warner said the providers can increase profits by charging for the software, alongside retrieving lost capacity internally.

“We allow MSPs to differentiate themselves by using it as their IP to win new monthly support business,” Warner added.

Headed by Warner, the team also comprises of Jessica Ross; Dean Turnbull; Greg Krzeszkowski and Vivian Zhu, as vice presidents of sales, cloud, engineering and finance respectively.

“We’re global from day one,” added Warner, with MSPs from across the globe already trialling the product. “With SaaS businesses you really need to be thinking global from day one, especially from Australia.”

Alongside the restrictive size of the Australian market in terms of scale, increased levels of connectivity through the cloud and internet means customers can source products from anywhere in the world.

Therefore, SaaS offerings are now available to be trialled and bought from a website without speaking to sales people, rendering the location of the provider irrelevant.

“So whether you like it or not you are global from day one,” he added. “Plus the MSP community is a global community, with thought leadership and idea sharing knowing no boundaries.

“That’s the exciting thing about launching a global business, we get to speak to people all over the world with the exact same problem.”

Global from day one

The idea of being global from day one is an attractive idea to pursue, especially for ambitious partners seeking to take on the world through one game-changing product.

And while such ambitions should not be discouraged, challenges are associated with instant worldwide expansion.

When building a global business from Australia, obvious boundaries exist in relation to time-zone, cost of travel and exchange rates, underlined by a lack of opportunities to get in front of customers.

“But I don’t think there are any challenges big enough that stop you from going global,” Warner added. “You just need to be flexible, creative and innovative in your thinking and approach.”

In adopting a disruptive mind-set, Warner said the start-up’s biggest challenge relates to education, through advising MSPs and IT providers about the benefits of the Invarosoft product.

For Warner, the education starts through the emergence of a new software category in Client Portal Software.

“We believe IT providers and IT departments should stop torturing their clients and end-users with the old approach of web portals and emails to access IT support,” he added.

“We invented ITSupportPanel, ITNewsPanel and ITAppsPanel to solve that problem and deliver a highly customisable app to be that single gateway to access support, news, apps and whatever the provider needs.”

Warner said the software is not designed to replace anything an MSP already has in place, but rather to work seamlessly with existing PSA and ticketing systems.

“We believe it’s the next evolution of how IT support should be delivered — visible, easy to use and specifically designed with the IT provider and end- user needs in mind,” Warner added.

To facilitate global plans, Warner also cited the support of the Australian Government through making R&D tax incentives available, in addition to Export Marketing and Development Grants (EMDG) to help local exporters invest in continued market development.

Central to this is a marketing strategy, with Invarosoft already heavily invested in both the Autotask and ConnectWise ecosystems, through the sponsorship of Community Live in Miami and IT Nation in Orlando.

“Our product integrates with Autotask and ConnectWise so we’re deeply embedded in those ecosystems,” Warner added. “We will look to forge long standing successful vendor partnerships to grow internationally.”

Delving deeper, strategic partnerships are also in place from a digital perspective with Google, LinkedIn and Facebook, as the start- up seeks fresh ways to evangelise its product solutions to a wider audience.

“The biggest promotion relates to the value that our product can offer IT providers,” Warner added. “It's rare when something new gets invented, usually products are iterations of something that has been done before.

“We believe ITSupportPanel makes IT support a better experience all round which benefits the end-user and makes them more productive.”

At a local level, Invarosoft is inviting MSPs across Australia and New Zealand to trial the product for 30 days without charge, as it attempts to build feedback to further improve offerings.

“Since it’s a product built for MSPs by an MSP, we’re already seeing huge interest as partners seek to reduce call volumes and deliver a better overall experience," Warner added.

“Many MSPs think the industry should have solved this issue a long time ago and they’re excited by what they can now deliver with ITSupportPanel.”

For Warner and his team, the future looks bright as the doors open to the global market. But when looking ahead and over the horizon, the importance of keeping the house in order remains paramount.

“There is no impact to our business in Australia,” Warner added. “The good thing about expanding globally is you get to learn different ideas in different markets and regions to help make your product even more relevant at solving problems for your target market.

“I think expanding globally is only a good thing for a business which in our case is made easier by the fact the ‘widget’ we’re exporting is software.”

Looking forward, Warner said Invarosoft is hoping to follow in the footsteps of other successful SaaS businesses out of Australia such as Atlassian; Campaign Monitor; Culture Amp; Safety Culture and Canva.

“These guys have proven the formula is possible from Australia and we’d like to eventually join these ranks over the next 5–10 years,” he added.

“The reality is that it will take time, we know this, but we’re in the game for the long run to build another enduring Australian SaaS success story on the global stage.”

IDG Insider


« Apple delays HomePod till 2018


Star Wars: Battlefront II review: The Dark Side »
IDG News Service

The IDG News Service is the world's leading daily source of global IT news, commentary and editorial resources. The News Service distributes content to IDG's more than 300 IT publications in more than 60 countries.

  • Mail


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?