A BizSpark Start-up that's delivering Software as a Service, Xtrood.com.au
Why are you building this Startup? What does it do?
The concept of Xtrood.com.au came from working in the credit industry for a number of years, working with automatic credit assessment. Time was spent designing web screens and documents for capturing customer details in order to assess them for credit, but even more so, we were building screens for companies just for the purpose of workflow and very little time actually spent on making credit decisions. This made me realise that so many business out there seem to struggle getting their IT teams to build systems to run their businesses more efficiently.
What I set out to do was create a system that other businesses can use for customers to enter their details (name, address, etc.) and put this through an online data workflow system to send out emails, documents and even place event bookings.
I built the system in modules that users can configure what they use and don’t use and build their own data capture screens, but the real work happens with the workflow processes.
In essence we allow business to capture just about any data they would need for a customer, then set up automated actions with that data such as ‘do I need to send them a confirmation email?’ or generate sales documentation for the customer to sign. We are used to moving away from traditional paper based applications for services and products to fully online web application forms.
What does a product marketing team need to understand from engineering about how to sell the product?
The first thing to note is that Xtrood is built as Software as a Service, meaning that we can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and a web browser. We are built on the .NET framework running LINQ to SQL on a MySQL database. This is done to keep running and licence costs down, but allows for the flexibility to swap out the database to MSSQL in the future if needed.
All the web screens are built with responsive design in mind so that they will work on mobile devices and tablets.
The software is designed so that the customer can configure their entire workflow process and what data they want to capture. They are purchasing a system that they can use and control themselves, and do not need to call up a support team to make changes for them.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
In business I find that it is extremely difficult to get in house IT teams to build new things, they are always busy with other projects to keep their existing systems and processes ticking over.
The impact Xtrood is trying to make allows businesses to have control over their customer data and decisions that are being made, without needing to get funding and approval for an internal IT project to build a system.
We hope to help smaller businesses grow and compete in their markets by giving them simple tools that can do a lot with their data.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start a business in your country?
I don’t think it matters where you are or what you do, if you have a passion for something and realise you can help others when no one else will, go for it!
I would recommend taking it in small steps however, don’t just throw the towel in on where you are right now and jump head first in to running a small business with no backup plan.
Most of all, ask for help. Dealing with a whole host of different people and businesses over the years, the majority of people are willing to give you a hand if you ask. It might just be some words of wisdom, or someone might offer to have a play with your systems and do some testing for you. If they have nothing to lose by giving you a hand, why wouldn’t they?
How do you work with investors, or do you currently use any outside money at all?
I’m yet to have to have to deal with real investors for Xtrood as it is still early days, but when the time comes I will be open to it. Investors would need to see the potential of our systems and how it can enable other businesses to move forward.
Right now I’m juggling working part time on this business, along with my other job of 7 years. I’ve managed to reduce the number of hours at my 2nd job to keep money coming in, but also give me the time to focus on my business as well.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Working with Microsoft products and services for many years, it is quick to set up something large and complex in a relatively short time frame and generate a quality outcome. It’s also easy to get support online which is always a bonus. Building a web application on Microsoft servers just seems to make sense. They are easy to scale up and down as needed, easy to manage and they are easy to monitor.
They also assist in helping you network with others and provide some guidance along the way.