March 23, 2011
The UK market is surprisingly flush with SMB accounting vendors – I lose track of just how many there are and each week seems to see another one launch. One of the more mature of the vendors is LiquidAccounts, a product that came out of the parent company’s experience building bespoke solutions for large companies and multi nationals. LA raised £750000 in funding at the start of this year and have just announced a further raise of £500000.
One of the interesting things that LiquidAccounts offers is a free import service that allows SMBs to have their existing data imported into LiquidAccounts from another software package – it’s a simple concept and one that I’m staggered isn’t offered by more vendors – SMBs are ludicrously time-poor and anything that helps ease the on-ramp for them is a no-brainer. Liquid is proud to be the first company to be accredited by the new BASDA (Business Application Software Developers Association) Cloud Vendor Charter – I don’t give these sorts of charters much time, they tend to be more about puffery than any real standard, but it’s another thing to hang on the office wall I guess.
Another interesting factor in this announcement is the fact that it was matched by a UK government find aimed at growing businesses led by women. It strikes me as a little odd that, in a marketplace with so many UK-based offerings, a government body is attempting to pick winners, also surprising is the artificial focus on businesses led by women – I agree that we need more women in business but I’m not sure it’s the Governments job to try and help that by cherry picking funding candidates.
Anyway – this latest round of funding comes surprisingly close to the initial round. LiquidAccounts say that it will be used develop its sales approach. At the same time as announcing the funding, LiquidAccounts rolled out a new version of the software which includes an optional payroll module. With regards the sales part, LiquidAccounts is claiming some success building a network of accountancy services as partners and is looking to accelerate this approach. It’s a similar tack taken by other UK players – notably FreeAgent, Kashflow and Xero – I hate to think what it feels like to be a UK accountant visited almost daily by another accounting vendor!
The UK SMB market is a large one, but I’d expect to see a degree of consolidation over the next couple of years as things settle down and the viable players in the marketplace are identified.