Ridgely Evers is not your typical CEO of a startup company. What’s the difference? Well besides being a programmer and business guru, Ridgely created QuickBooks. Credit for building Intuit, of course goes to Scott Cook and his team but QuickBooks was Ridgely’s baby.
Intuit first created Quicken so families and individuals could balance their finance. QuickBooks was created so businesses could do much of the same but for businesses.
Over some bagels, coffee and tea (I had the tea) Ridgely shared with me about his newest company, NetBooks, which will deliver software-as-a-service to small businesses to help them run their businesses. Beyond just accounting, but also CRM, sales and more. Right now it’s in stealth mode.
One key focus of Ridgely’s is on the True Small Business. These are the small businesses who much of the tech industry wants to target.
Large businesses have been sold already and have their minds made up, in large part on what vendors they’re going with.
Very small businesses, with 1 – 5 employees, are important but pretty hard to reach.
The sweet spot for many companies selling to small businesses are those businesses with from 5 – 50 ~ 75 employees.
For these small businesses, the owner makes all (or most) of the decisions, they want support from the vendor they buy from and bookkeeping is the first thing they get rid of.
Ridgely believes that accounting and bookkeeping as different things. The small biz owner tends to start doing bookkeeping, then gets rid of that as soon as cash flow allows. Regardless of business size, the accounting should be done by a qualified outside pro (certified or otherwise).
Think back to 1985, when computers were the domain of large businesses and hardly anyone had computers.
Ridgely feels that this is the time we are at now in the world of small business technology. Sure, every business has computers, but hardly any business is really maximizing this technology at its full potential.
Microsoft is succeeding in serving small businesses, but the pie of offerigns is shifting. There’s new players and new services coming to the market that it must contend with. One is Google.
One problem, however, Microsoft is still stuck in much of the old-school thinking – especially in how it delivers software. Sure, there’s Office Live, but is this enough?
NetSuite, Salesforce.com, SAP, Oracle and other vendors are still more focused on medium sized businesses.
So we’re back to square one. Small businesses, less then 100 – less then 50 employees still are not using technology to its full potential. There’s a few reasons for this:
– Technology is complex and difficult to implement
– No simple and efficient way to make technology work for the business
– The more one wants to do with technology, the more it’s going to cost
– Small business owners are still not aware of what technology can do for their business
Ridgely’s research finds that owners usually understand the benefits technology can bring, but they simply don’t have the money to purchase it, or an organization that can deploy it. SaaS, hosted applications, allows them to outsource the infrastructure specification, purchase, management and maintenance to NetBooks.
Into this void Ridgely hopes NetBooks can make an impact. Let’s wait and see.
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