Growing A Funded Accounting Startup In Sydney With Guy Pearson, CEO Of Practice Ignition

Guy, please introduce yourself…

I’m an accounting geek. The ultimate conversation stopper. I hail from Manly, Sydney. Formally trained as an accountant, I have a love for all things that enable the removal of bottlenecks and have experimented in this area leading me into my current role.

What’s the story behind creating Practice Ignition?

I was running Interactive Accounting and there was just no tools in the market that focused on the client – advisor relationship and their interactions, so I launched Practice Ignition – the number 1 tool for the modern accounting practice.

Tell us a little more about what you do at Practice Ignition…

I’m the Chief Ignitioneer. I’m in charge of helping our customers spark their client relationships and be innovative. I move across product, sales, marketing and generally plotting our next mission.

How’s traction working out so far?

400 accounting practices on trial in 20 countries. 50 paying accounting practices. 37% month on month growth.

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Early morning – Yoga/Gym/Run. Then answer emails and support tickets from our overseas customers and advisors, then plan the day ahead (whilst fuelling up with a coffee and enjoying the view on the manly ferry).

Morning – Looking at opportunities in the marketplace for us to launch a new feature in the future, taking new beta features for a test ride and educating our new team members on the way we do things.

Lunch – grab a bite and play a game of table tennis on the hotly contested Tankstreamlabs table.

Afternoon – recap with the team on marketing, calls, collateral and close up the day with our New Zealand team.

Late afternoon – customer emails and review any collateral, plans for the future.

Evening – Dinner, then marketing roadmap review, or writing content/blogs to help educate and assist our customers.

What challenges did you face when launching?

Traction and adoption. As we’re selling to a change resistant customer base. Additional product features and adopting the educate, incubate, grow concept as we sign on a new trial customer.

What strategies are you using to market Practice Ignition?

One to many is a must with all things we consider. Sponsoring events can be hit or miss, as the events get larger it’s less beneficial as there is too much noise.

Our website and listing with partner applications has been a great way. The biggest step to come is formalising our partner channel in early this year.

You’ve raised a round of financing. What advice can you share with entrepreneurs looking to do the same?

Identify your most likely investors in advance. Focus on the story and tell the problem you’re trying to solve. Then it’s all about metrics, metrics and metrics.

Make sure you have a model and identify what drives revenue for your business & get a handle on your funnel. Then confidence breeds confidence, and practice pitching to get your timing right.

Lastly, be prepared to allow for a great amount of time as you learn on your first raise. You will get a lot of no’s and all you can do is iterate and repeat.

What do you plan to use the funding for?

Expansion of our development team to build our software. Effectively doubling our size to kick some major goals!

What are you doing to foster company culture?

We keep a very open company, we don’t have offices, we operate out of a co-working space and pretty much everything is shared and open for discussion.

I’m a massive believer in the team mentality and that you’re only as good as the team around you. This has led to a very comfortable and trusting culture.

We also have some interesting characters, and quite a few nationalities and personas /alter egos, but, we all like a beer, BBQ, good music and sport. So we try and get out to enjoy fresh air and enjoy each others company outside of the workplace to make sure we don’t kill each other at work.

How does being based in Sydney impact the business?

Sydney CBD is a great base given the concentration of customers, however, being based in Australia provides limitation on scalability and disadvantages for employee incentives with the current state of Employee Share Programs.

What’s up with the current state of Employee Share Programs?

What Employee Share Program… I’m a massive fan of the push for this incentive as it makes it hard to hire employees and ask for 120% when you can’t pay premiums or offer a reward in the company due to taxes being paid on issue (when no cash changes hands).

Here’s hoping they at least put it on a cash basis so that CGT events are recognised on sale only as they may end up being worthless.

How do you see the startup and investment ecosystem developing in Sydney?

The startup scene is thriving and it’s been awesome to be apart of. The investment scene is harder as there are not many wealthy Aussies have made money on software… usually it’s from digging things out of the ground or building things on top of it.

It’s perceived as high risk as there’s nothing tangible produced. This is changing, but, we need to better educate investors on the opportunities.

What’s the best piece of entrepreneurship advice you’ve ever received?

Get a great group of mentors around you to bounce ideas off. Hopefully they test your boundaries, limits and patience.

When they think you can no longer improve, make sure you find some who do think you can.

Be mindful of the competition, but, fortune favours the brave….

I’ll finish with a closing quote; “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities” – Bruce Lee.

What’s next for Practice Ignition?

We’ve just released our new v2 software which provides greater flexibility and we closed part A of our seed round (roughly at the same time), so we’re focused on building software that all accounting firms can use to rollover or re-engage (a massive annual undertaking for accounting practices) in advance, in minutes and further improve our feature set and begin on more integrations to make our addressable market larger.

Utlimately, we want to better connect advisors to their clients and provide the one place they interact together and manage their relationship so that accountants can provide an apple.com experience rather then an accounting 1.0 paper ladened reactive experience.

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