Launched in New Zealand in 2010, Vend now has thousands of customers in over 140 countries and is on the same growth trajectory followed by the world’s most successful first generation cloud companies – like Netsuite, Zendesk, and Salesforce. Which is no small feat.
We caught up with JC Tauney-Bucalo, Vend’s Chief Revenue Officer, to learn how they’re building a billion dollar cloud company from New Zealand, as seen in TechWeekEurope.
Knowing the growth trajectories of billion dollar cloud companies is all well and good, but how does that help you grow Vend?
As a second wave cloud company we’re pretty lucky in that we have a map of sorts to work from. Comparing our growth to the likes of Zendesk or Salesforce when they were the same age as us gives us a very good measurement of our performance as a company – and where we’ll end up if we can keep our momentum going.
But it also works in reverse. Having those charts means we know what’s possible in terms of growth and have something to aim for – but of course we always think, ‘let’s try to go a lot further’.
It’s a pretty competitive market. How do you keep ahead of the game?
We were in the first wave of cloud-based POS companies going to market. Which means as a company we’ve been reinventing the wheel the entire time. This is true of our product, of course, but of our business model too.
When we started, our customer acquisition model was completely marketing driven. The customer experience was mostly self service and we had no sales people! So we mostly attracted small retailers, like cupcake shops and tiny boutiques. These were our early adopters.
After two years we had evolved our product a huge amount and established a really great customer success team, naturally moving up the value chain as we went, and attracting bigger customers – but still usually with only one store. We also were incorporating a lot more offline marketing, like attending and putting on our own events.
The next phase was to move to larger, more complex, multi-outlet retailers and franchises. To do this, we had to develop a strong reseller channel and create an outbound sales team. We’re still quite focused on this.
What do you suppose is coming next?
Each of our previous transformations were about being able to service larger and larger companies. Our product was unique and constantly evolving, but our customers were all paying the same regardless of what features they were using.
As we attract larger customers with more niche requirements we’ll be updating our product model to make it more module-based, with specific features customers can turn on and pay for – or not – depending on their needs. This will make Vend the ideal choice for small and large enterprises, and business owners can turn on and pay for only the features and tools they need.
You have customers in over 140 countries. How have you managed to attract and retain customers from all over the world?
We launched Vend as a global company. And we were amazed by the amount of international signups we got in the early days – of just organic reach with no sales team
Still, we knew from early on that we needed a physical global presence too, to be able to support our customers and to be present in key areas like Silicon Valley. So we came up with a model that allows us to have people on the ground in all our strategic areas, but was still very cost effective for a bootstrapping startup.
We set up offices in cities based on time zone, cities with a less cut-throat hiring market, and quality of life for our staff. Then we set up a lean business development team in key cities like San Francisco and London. This way we maximised the support coverage provided to our clients, and didn’t miss out on opportunities.
What would be your advice to the next wave of cloud companies?
- Get the best tool stack possible from the beginning. We started with an enterprise stack we could grow into, that wouldn’t limit us or our growth.
- Go global from day one.
Because we made those choices from the outset, Vend is probably the most global SaaS company in the world. No one is as widespread as we are, with revenue spread equally between key markets. Nobody has that. This makes us very different – but we’re pretty sure the next wave of cloud companies will learn that lesson from us and will pounce on the global cloud opportunity.