I’ve written
before about Pearl, the UK based “mini-ERP” that just seems to do everything.
I’ve always thought of it as the little engine that could, with a team of only
five people they have managed to build a solution that covers the majority of
bases that a real world business might need – stock, email marketing, Ecommerce,
helpdesk and the all important migration from other solutions. The reason that
I’m so bullish about Pearl is that it delivers on the promise made by The Small Business Web, but does so
with all the heavy lifting already finished – Pearl packages up solutions from
third parties (MailChimp for email marketing for example) but tightly integrated
and seamlessly presented within the main app.

While being super-positive about pearl, I’ve
worried about whether or not they had the ability to take things to the next
level before being swallows – either from above by the incumbents, or below by
some new entrant.

Well it seems I need not have worried – Pearl
has just picked up USD1.5 million in funding that will see them take their
product to new heights and achieve their stated aim of being “NetSuite for the
masses”. They’ve grown from five to 18 people in the past month and are looking
to grow the team to 100 in the next few months. Past of this is a rebrand to the
new name – BrightPearl.

I was briefed by Chris Tanner, founder of BrightPearl who was understandably
excited about the funding. As he put it the funding will allow them to “drop
more prospects into the sales funnel” – with a current conversion rate of 10% of
trial to paying customers, any increase in funnel entry is going to make a big
difference to the bottom line.

However it is when comparing deal size that we get the most insight.
BrightPearl currently has several hundred paying customers but, get this, their
average subscription is $450 a month – this, for example, is over ten times the
ARPU of another SMB accounting vendor Xero, when your average deal size is
that high it stands to reason that you can invest more on each sale and can be
more focused on individual customers. It is, as an analogy, the difference
between fast food and a la carte. Without laboring the point, it’s pretty
awesome that a company of only five people like Pearl can achieve their current
USD1.5mill annualized revenue rate with zero marketing budget – it’s worth
comparing this with the only SMB accounting entrant that publishes its results,
Xero, who in the last financial year had around USD2.5mill in revenue with a
massive marketing spend.

There’s lots on the horizon for BrightPearl – better stock control, tighter
exchange integration and a PDA version along with an imminent entry into the
Google apps marketplace. Their funding, their product and the particular niche
they play in gives me lots of confidence in their chances to execute


Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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