Member Spotlight: XBert
Against the unprecedented global economic crisis tools that provide financial risk alerts, data accuracy, visibility and real-time insights, like the products offered by SaaS fintech and 2020 Finnies finalist XBert, have proven essential for business owners, accountants, bookkeepers and advisors.
Since launching publicly at leading cloud accounting provider Xero’s Xerocon event in September 2019, XBert’s been making waves in Australia and overseas. Now, XBert’s secured an AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Programme Accelerating Commercialisation grant (“grant”) and is ready to go big on a global scale!
For this week’s Member Spotlight, we spoke with Troy Brown, co-founder and co-director of XBert about the grant process (including some helpful tips), the challenges they encountered and what’s on the horizon.
XBert began as the brainchild of Mr Brown and his co-founder and co-director Aaron Wittman. “Aaron and I each spent over 25 years owning and running successful businesses in Australia and overseas, everything from small start-ups through to large companies with blue-chip and government clients.”
“We were well-aware of the problems and frustrations business owners have getting the real-time visibility over risks, bookkeeping quality and financial reports, the constant, inefficient back and forth with advisors to get things done or a simple answer, and the impact of poor decisions when the data isn’t accurate.”
“Talking to hundreds of other business owners, bookkeepers and accountants, we realised we weren’t alone. We knew we could use our skills and expertise and come up with a better way. We built the solution they wanted, unlocking AI and machine learning technology for everyone.”
XBert co-founders and directors, Troy Brown and Aaron Wittman.
The grant process
The grant recognises XBert’s innovations, uniqueness within a vast fintech and cloud accounting add-on ecosystem, global potential and future focus.
The grant will fund the further development and market infiltration of XBert CONNECT, which is XBert at scale for those who need to manage multiple businesses efficiently from the one portal. “The Accelerating Commercialisation programme is highly-competitive and identifies novel products ready to upscale and with a distinctive global market-fit. As you can imagine, the grant application process was extensive and took some time,” explained Mr Brown.
What we learned
The grant process wasn’t easy, and the team learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. “Talking with our customers and hearing their stories, it was important to make their challenges known. We carefully shaped our grant application to highlight the problems faced by businesses being exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis and the need for accurate data, transparency and effective collaboration with advisors, which are more important than ever for making the right decisions.”
Providing supporting evidence that real, targeted users locally and globally would adopt the solution was also important for XBert’s application. “We had great support from local and global beta testers who eagerly indicated their willingness to use our products, based on discussed roadmaps and localised risk algorithms.”
During the project, XBert plan to scope development of international risk alerts for specific regions and industries, identify new data integration sources, complete data integration with other accounting software, and identify partner opportunities.
“When we created our unique, high-engagement partner programme, it was intended to ensure our solution met the current and future needs of our customers. After all, there’s no point having a solution no one wants to use or understand how to use! We are very product-led in our direction and this strengthens our market fit.”
“However, these partnerships became crucial to our AusIndustry grant application as evidence of our innovative approach and the value of XBert. Our partner collaboration proved we can deliver a truly customer-led, purpose-built, scalable fintech solution.”
XBert has faced their share fair of challenges in its journey to market. Like everyone else, the COVID-19 crisis brought XBert a whole new set of issues, uncertainty and stresses. The challenges heavily impacted their customers, particularly advisors who now had to navigate stimulus packages and changing legislation for clients. “We wanted to support businesses and advisors so offered an extended free trial then a reduced subscription fee, foregoing revenue,” says Mr Brown.
During the crisis, the XBert team worked extra hard to create more alerts for payroll, bank accounts, GST, ABN and other financial risks; OCR attachment scanning, an interactive real-time client risk report for advisors; and new features to reduce manual tasks and manage bookkeeping workflow efficiently.
That was a difficult time, but we’re glad that we can be agile and evolve our solution quickly to meet continually changing customer needs and make a real difference to their working lives and businesses.:
Any exciting plans or ideas you would like to share?
Mr Brown says that the remainder of 2020 will be an exciting and busy time for XBert.
“We’re already deep into the research and development for our grant project milestones and international and vertical industry market scope. In addition, we’re exploring other partnership opportunities with advisory firms, software solutions and data providers to extend our product offering.”
“We’re continuing to build our global network of customers and are finalising several partnerships with customers in the UK, the USA, Asia and South Africa who will provide valuable guidance to our market expansion and developing regional-specific risk and compliance alerts.”
“Revenue is now on and we’re continuing discussions with a VC looking to lead a seed raise as we expand globally and integrate our offering with other accounting solutions and data partners.”