Ever find yourself wondering how a startup makes the difficult decision to embark on the scaleup journey? Is there a blueprint to success? Will it be obvious when your startup should begin scaling up?
Here at TechSPARK, we thought the best way to illustrate the answers to these common questions would to create a series of Scaleup Stories, featuring some of the South West’s most successful scaleups. Today we have Ian Halliwell, Sales & Marketing Director, talking us through Xledger’s story, who were recently ranked as the top tech company in the 2021 UK’s Best Workplaces!
Xledger provides highly automated finance software for mid-market organisations – based on subscription – and hosted entirely in the cloud. Ian tells us, “To access the product, all you need is an internet browser.”
Now serving, more than 10,000 customers in over 60 countries, Ian explains that, “Xledger manages financial and administrative processes, ranging from mobile workflow to project accounting and billing.”
The company delivers value to its customers in three primary areas:
- Automation – one of the most automated finance systems on the market.
- Insight – a multitude of different reporting tools enabling users to ‘slice and dice’ data and pull meaningful reports, which can be easily shared across the customer’s organisation.
- Scalability – Xledger is easy to scale up or down as the customer requires.
We caught up with Ian to find out more about Xledger’s sclaeup story:
When did Xledger begin the transition to becoming a scaleup?
CEO Mark Pullen and I joined the business in H2 2019. Since then, Xledger has become one of Bristol’s fastest growing businesses – revenue has grown 170% in the last 12 months and headcount has grown 44%.
What was the biggest challenge to scaling up?
A business is its people. Xledger is centred around culture, because we understand that without our employees, we’re nothing.
The biggest challenge to scaling-up is ensuring you have the right people in place who are able to collaborate with one another effectively and are dedicated to doing the best job possible.
It’s also critical that you understand your market position, and that you’re able to continue to execute effectively as you continue to scale and grow and are faced with the pressures that come with that. You need to maintain that control and not get ahead of yourself.
2020’s achievements are the result of how the guys here have been able to pull together as a team in challenging circumstances to scale the business effectively.
What has been a defining moment in Xledger’s scaleup journey?
Last year – between lockdowns – we moved into 11,000 square feet of newly renovated grade A office space.
Our relocation to Tower Wharf is central to our hybrid approach to flexible working and creating a ‘destination hub’ for our people as we enter a critical period in our evolution.
With many businesses questioning the future of their premises as a result of the pandemic, we wanted to buck this trend with a substantial investment in a new space. Our ‘destination hub’ is a place that, when our employees come in to work, is a real privilege to be a part of.
Not only can the new hub comfortably – and safely – accommodate a growing number of workstations as we continue to recruit, it also boasts a host of employee and client breakout areas, meeting rooms and entertainment spaces including a bar and a roof terrace.
Investing in new premises in the current climate is a true demonstration of our confidence in the market and commitment to growing the business in Bristol. We want to be a team that’s over 50 strong within the next 12 months.
Why is the South West a good region to scaleup in? Why is Bristol special for you?
For us, again it’s the people. We’re very invested in the city and its culture. Our employees are Bristol and that’s part of what makes it special.
Xledger is also very invested in supporting the role of Bristol Sport in the community and recognising the positive impact and influence that sport has on the breaking down of social boundaries, age groups and inequalities.
In addition to our sponsorship of the Ashton Gate Stadium’s South Stand and Bristol Flyers basketball team, we now give strong support to the Bristol Bears Academy, where we sponsor youngsters from 13 years of age through the programme.
We understand the value the Bears Academy brings to young people as individuals, and the opportunities it creates that extend far beyond the game. Only around 0.1 percent of players that enter a rugby academy become professional rugby players, but we recognise that the programme helps young people that go through the process to become the best people and individuals they can be.
With that in mind, we’ve just gone another step further and created a new Xledger internship programme in partnership with the Bears Academy. The internship is designed to open up opportunities for young players to gain academic skills alongside sport, so that they have something to fall back on. We now also have buy in to support the programme from 25 other companies including the Bristol offices of Airbus, DAC Beachcroft, Matrix and Robert Half.
There are of course also a number of practical elements to being based here too. The city’s location means it’s only a couple of hours away from most places if we need to travel, with great transport links. In addition to the great benefits of being a technology company here, Bristol is also quickly becoming something of a financial mecca as well, which is obviously ideal, given our customer base.
What would be your key piece of advice for startups considering taking on the scaleup process?
Ensure you maintain your culture and identity. You have to build the business around people who want the same things as you do. As a business scales it’s important to not lose sight of what brought you to a phase of growth in the first place. Really think about the company culture and the experience you want your employees to have day-to-day.
Our culture is central to the organisation and is one of collaboration and trust. It’s about enthusiasm and it’s about being fun.
To celebrate TechSPARK’s annual TT50 List, we’ve teamed up with Antidote Communications to uncover what makes a successful founder and leader of a tech company in the Southwest. We want to identify, not only the ingredients that make a tech leader, but go deeper – find out what makes them tick? What do they think about key issues? What do they like and dislike? Why are we doing this and what do we hope to achieve? We want to celebrate this years TT50 List and inspire the next generation of tech leaders. Please help us by completing our quick survey here.