If you control the buying process, then first of all you can knock out the waste, the duplicate purchases, but also you can really control where your people are buying from as well.

Today I am speaking with Martin Peirce from Zahara Software.

Can you share with our listeners, who may visit Bath, UK as a tourist, where do you recommend they go for a drink?

Martin:           That’s a really good question. I always start the evening in a bar called Hall & Woodhouse, which is right in the centre, and it’s a big friendly bar, and from there you can explore off anywhere. So that would be my tip. Start there, Hall & Woodhouse, and you’re surrounded then by other bars and restaurants, and you can take Bath at your stroll then.

Heather:        Yes, it is a lovely city to stroll round. I was there in January and it was spectacular with all the Christmas lights.

Martin:           Oh good. Yeah.

Martin:           We’re quite fortunate, ’cause it’s quite a small city, which has its problems in itself, but it’s accessible to places like London and, you know, gateways, but it’s very, very pretty. It’s a tourist destination, hence why you probably arrived. But it’s a very nice place to live, put it like that.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. My husband went to university there, so we were revisiting his uni town.

Martin:           Oh wow. Excellent.

Heather:        And that very, very long, steep hill that he had to get up to the university.

Martin:           Yeah, absolutely. It’s the worst positioned uni for students possible, right at the top of a hill. Yeah. And that uni’s grown and grown and grown; it’s a major success story.

Heather:        Yeah. After drinking at your favourite pub, that hill, I think, becomes longer and harder.

Martin:           Yeah, definitely.

What’s the internet connection like in Bath?

Martin:           Well, where I live actually, it’s much better. When I moved here two years ago, we had eight meg broadband, and now they’ve rolled out fibre into the street, so we’re running at kind of 100 meg. The city though, the city centre itself, is not bad. Good connectivity there.

Martin:           Bath is turning into a tech hub. Bristol’s always been a centre for creative arts and for tech, and Bath’s getting a bit of overspill now, ’cause the infrastructure’s kind of caught up. So it’s reasonable, put it like that.

Heather:        Fantastic. Thank you for sharing that.

 Can you explain to our global listeners what the BBC Micro is, and what impact it had on you? So I’m asking about the BBC Micro.

Martin:           Yeah, so in fact, in two weeks’ time, I’m 50 years old. That means my teenage years were … I caught the computer wave, which probably for me started in about 1983. The first computer I saw on the high streets in the UK was a Sinclair ZX81. Really, really basic. And then I went from there to a ZX Spectrum, and that changed my world. This is like, “Wow, this thing’s amazing.”

Martin:           So I started to learn to programme BASIC. But the BBC Micro was a … Really, it’s the precursor to all personal computing, certainly in the UK. The government got behind it, they funded this company called Acorn who created it, and before we knew it, it was rolled out across all the schools in the UK.

Martin:           It was kind of like if you had a BBC Micro, you could do anything, and for me that meant writing BASIC programmes. And I have been a frustrated programmer ever since, because I can’t make the leap into proper machine code as it was in the time. But the BBC Micro was phenomenal. It was the first computer with a proper keyboard that you could expand, that was affordable.

Martin:           So yeah, my teenage years really went from … well, were mainly spent in my bedroom, either gaming or playing with my mates or trying to write our own programmes.

Heather:        That was an amazing initiative by the government in those days.

Martin:           It was, and it’s so sad, actually, that there’s not been more initiatives like that. I know the … Is it the Atom processor that’s been rolled out around the world into literally billions of small devices? That all stemmed out of the UK, and again, that was a government funded initiative. And sometimes we need that, sometimes the industry needs a kickstart. And certainly the computer market back in the 80s, that was just such an exciting time.

Heather:        Yeah, I had never heard about it, so I did actually have to Google it, and I’ll drop a Wikipedia link to the BBC Micro in the show notes for our listeners.

Martin:           Fantastic.

Can you share with our listeners a bit about your background, and what brought you to launch your company?

Martin:           Yeah.

Martin:           Really, I should have always gone into a career in computing. I studied computer at what we called O-level and A-level and did really well, but I had this burning desire to go into business. My granddad was an entrepreneur. He had a business, my dad had a business, and I suppose it’s in my genes, I wanted to set something up. And then I ended up, at a very early age, getting involved in what everyone would call a real estate business, and then I set my own real estate business up at 21, which was very young. But when you’re really young you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, so you just go for it.

Martin:           A friend and I created our own, what we called estate agency business here in the UK in Bath, and that grew for about 10, 11 years. But my heart was never really in it. I mean, it set me up well in life, I bought a few properties along the way, was in the right place at the right time. So I had a change of plan when I was about 30, and I think it’s a good thing really to have strategic career changes.

Martin:           As it happened, I ended up bumping into a friend, went to work for Canon, the well known camera manufacturer, and got involved in their business division, and that’s where I learnt about document management. I had no interest whatsoever in their copiers. Tedious. But I really enjoyed working with their document management software.

Martin:           This is like, 2001 to 2004, and I could see how the digitization of paper was going to be massive. So I had a brief interlude of a career, should I say, where I learnt this whole new world. I then had another 18 months, and I learnt what it was to be a reseller with a company in Bristol. And then through a turn of events, I created a business called Click2Scan, and I literally came home one day, plonked a scanner on the desk in an office above our garage, and said to my wife, “There we are, we’re a scanning company now. I’ve got a scanning job. You need to scan this tonne of paperwork that’s coming in.” And that was the birth of Click2Scan.

Martin:           There is an end with this, bear with me.

Martin:           And how that progressed was, from scanning, we got into document management. From document management, we got into intelligent capture, which is the scanning or reading of documents and the lifting of information on the page. We then got involved in invoice processing, signed up as Sage developers. Sage are massive in the UK. And as a result of that, I spotted this gap in the market.

Martin:           I was demonstrating these intelligent capture solutions all around the UK. We were adding new customers on where we could scan invoices, recognise and put them on Sage, but I was genuinely surprised by the number of what I thought were quite reasonable sized businesses that didn’t have a purchase order system, didn’t have anything to control budgets. And there was a turning point one meeting I had, and I came back to the office and said, “We should write our own.”

Martin:           That’s how Zahara started, and that was probably four years ago now. From there we set about to write the Zahara software, and now it’s being used around the world, and growing steadily.

Heather:        So you’ve actually got quite an interesting background there, in that you’ve got an incredible strength in selling. Like, over a decade in selling. But also coding. A really strong background in coding as well. Which is quite an unusual background, or combination.

Martin:           Yeah, I don’t want to oversell my coding ability. Compared to my development team in Krakow in Poland, and the guys I’ve got who code in the UK, no no, I’m not a coder.

Martin:           I think I understand problems, and yeah, I’ve been involved in sales from my very first career in property. Those two things combine quite nicely, I guess, and I do enjoy problem solving. I’m the one who designs the features, I listen to the clients, I understand what they want, and try and create those [inaudible 00:09:09] features that developers put in place.

Martin:           But I think a developer has to think almost in three dimensions. They have to take my idea and go, “Yeah, but that’s rubbish.” “Oh, thank you!” And they have to think about all the repercussions. And that’s what a really good developer does. I’m kind of a little bit too high-level for that.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. Well, you’re probably a stronger developer than most people who came out of a real estate office.

Martin:           Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, absolutely. My former business partner can just about use Facebook, so he thinks I’m a genius, but that suits me.

Heather:        He sounds like a good drinking partner.

Martin:           Yeah, absolutely, yeah.

Heather:        You should take a look at Tom Wallace, who is from New Zealand, and he created a commercial leasing solution. That might be of interest to you, just ’cause it was your background there, coming from leasing.

Martin:           I’ll check that out.

Heather:        Can you share with our listeners what Zahara software does?

Martin:           Yeah, so Zahara’s all about controlling and managing spend.

Martin:           If we go back to those early meetings, the turning point for me was when somebody said, “Look, I’m an IT manager. I just want a budget. I want to be able to buy things, and I want to know if I’m in my budget, and I want to be able to send a purchase order off to a supplier.” So I thought, “Oh. That’s good. We should be able to do that.”

Martin:           Zahara’s really, what we do is we take the initial request when somebody wants to buy something in an organisation. We take the approval process behind that, and our approvals can be multi-step, very sophisticated, based on lots of different conditions. So the user can create a really nice workflow very quickly. We then kind of handle the automating of sending a purchase order off to the supplier. We allow the users to receipt the delivery of that order. We can then record the invoice, match it against the order, and then post that invoice directly into the account system. We integrate with a few systems, like Xero, QuickBooks Online, and Sage.

Martin:           That’s what Zahara does. So behind every purchase, there’s a really good audit trail. You know, who ordered it, who approved it? We’ve got quite a few not-for-profit organisations coming on board, ’cause they love that kind of transparency, but most of our customers are multi-site organisation, so chains of things like nursing homes and restaurant chains and retail chains, where they won’t buy stock. Zahara’s not really a stock system, but it’s about managing the expenses, the overheads, controlling … Certainly if somebody wants to buy a CapEx item, or an account’s payable to department, doesn’t have to say, “Who ordered this? What’s it for? How do we code it?” We answer all those questions up front.

Heather:        Absolutely. We definitely need these strong audit trails. As more of us become remote workers and spread out across multi-sites, having that audit trail is very important.

Heather:        Where did the name Zahara come from?

Martin:           Well, my former business partner Adrian, who worked within the estate agency business, we’re a little bit like Take That, the group over here. We split up for 10 years, and then I finally went and met him in-

Heather:        I thought, “Wait, is he in Take That? What have I missed?”

Martin:           No, no. In the sense that they had, Robbie and Gary had a falling out for about 10 years.

Heather:        Who are you, Robbie or Gary?

Martin:           I’m probably Gary, actually, the steady one.

Martin:           But yeah, I finally tracked him down and found him living in the south of Spain. We went out there on holiday and he was living in a place called Zahara. A beautiful lake, it’s about 40 minutes inland from the coast. Absolutely stunning. And at the time, we were creating these little tools and widgets, and we had to name them something, and we were naming them after Spanish towns. So obviously we ruled out things like Torremolinos, that was never going to work. But Zahara was a nice, concise name, and it has its advantages.

Martin:           People tend to remember it, which is good, but of course it’s at the bottom of the list, with Xero, so if we were being strategic, perhaps we should have started the business or the brand with a character of “A” or “B” or something. But yeah, the name has stuck now, and everyone seems to like it and everyone seems to remember it. So yeah, that’s how we named it. It’s a strange one, but it’s true.

Heather:        Yeah. I’m not sure whether you can claim tax deductible holidays to Zahara now.

Martin:           Yeah. What’s funny is that there’s a country and western singer called Zahara, so not that we’ve set out to try and displace her on Google, but it would be nice if somebody typed in Zahara, that they find our software, which they generally do.

Martin:           It would be amusing to have a user group in the town of Zahara, overlooking the lake of Zahara, with the Zahara country and western singer from South Africa being our musical entertainment that evening. Though it might be Zahara overkill, perhaps.

Heather:        That sounds like Zahara goals, doesn’t it?

Martin:           Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Heather:        10 year goals. You’ll need to go and listen to what the guys at Expensify do for their retreats, which are quite exotic. They do things like take everyone to Florence for the week, or for a month, in fact.

Martin:           Wow.

Heather:        They all-

Martin:           We strive to be like Expensify then.

Heather:        They all work remotely, and they come together for one month a year. And so it might be Florence, or I think they did Uruguay once. They go all over the place, but just for one month a year. That’s the only time [crosstalk 00:14:57] together.

Martin:           That’s nice.

Heather:        Yeah. So why is controlling spend in an organisation important?

Martin:           I think today, it’s never been easier, probably, to expose yourself to fraudulent behaviour. A number of the demonstrations we I’ve done are to customers who’ve almost paid a very large invoice, or have paid an invoice. There’s a couple of them, fortunately the banks are quite clever at detecting it. So that’s one reason.

Martin:           The other reason I think, with the way that we work these days, if you take Expensify there, with their remote working, paper trails just aren’t fit for purpose. So if you’re going to rule out paper, which takes me back to my 2001 to 2004 career of understanding digitization and document management, if you’re going to take paper out of your business, which is actually a good thing, then you’re going to need something in place to manage the controls. And that’s where Zahara fills that gap, really, of helping people who want to go paperless and want to be more efficient, but also giving them that belt-and-braces approach to buying.

Heather:        Will your solution … Like, you’re accessing mass data. Will your solution notify users that, for instance, there’s currently a Facebook invoice that everyone’s getting at the moment that’s possibly fraudulent?

Martin:           It certainly doesn’t at the moment, but that’s the sort of thing that, as we get bigger, as we bring on more users, the ability to create a community is a very positive thing to offer, I think. So not right now, but it’s going on the list, it’s a good idea.

Heather:        Well, it does seem every single day there’s either a news article or someone in the forums saying, “We almost paid,” or, “We did pay, and we’re in this dangerous position,” because these bills look completely legitimate. Yet they’re fraudulent.

Martin:           Yep, absolutely. And the worst thing is spoofed emails from, say, the managing director to somebody in accounts, saying, “Hey Tracey, can you pay this invoice?” And them not thinking anything of it.

Martin:           Usually though, there’s a telltale sign, like terrible English or terrible grammar, so they can spot them. But something like Zahara gives you that control in place, where you can look back and think, “Well, we only pay invoices that are approved,” or, “We only pay them against a purchase order.” So I think lifting yourself above that kind of risk is really what people should be checking out these days.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely.

Heather:        How does Zahara tackle slow processes?

Martin:           Well, I think the accounts payable process is generally a slow process anyway. If it’s what I will call a traditional process, which is paper intensive … Today people are still receiving invoices. I’d like to think 90% of invoices are emailed, but we will find that the potential customer is then printing those invoices out, they’re putting them in a ring binder folder, and then perhaps they’re presenting them to an approver, and the approver stamps them. Well, that’s great if you’re working the one office, but that’s not a lot of good if you’ve got a retail chain of 105 outlets, and some paperwork is now the other side of the country.

Martin:           Zahara does away with all that. It’s electronic. And one of the things I realised when we were selling these solutions to the accounts payable process team is just how efficient we can make them. One customer we have in Dublin, they were a shared service centre for Europe, they had 11 ELP systems, because they’d acquired all these different organisations. Imagine that. You know, trying to maintain 11 account systems. And their time to even put an invoice onto the account, what we would call ledger, was 44 days. We got our approval solution in, and they got that down into under a day.

Martin:           So you know, that’s because it was just so intense and paper-heavy, whereas the minute you digitise that invoice or you keep it electronic in the first place, you can now ping it out for approval and somebody can approve that within an hour. People can approve our requests on their phone, just click “Approve” or “Reject” in the email. You’re just reducing that inefficiency.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. And it’s really important to, as part of your relationship with suppliers, deal with their invoices in a timely manner, because when you actually need something out of ordinary or urgently, you kind of have that strong relationship with them to fall back on. And some organisations kind of think they’re cute or they’re great because they can sort of roll it out to 90 days, but in fact, I think it just comes back and hits them.

Martin:           Yeah, it’s true. And in fact, some of the larger businesses we’ve got on Zahara, actually one of their drivers is about maintaining supplier terms.

Martin:           For the small business community, I think a lot of payments are done around their cashflow. You know, “Can I even afford to pay that right now? I know it’s due, but oh my word, can I pay it?” That is the reality of a lot of small businesses. But for the larger organisations, where cash isn’t so much of an issue, what they want is good supplier relations.

Martin:           The last thing they want is to be put on stop due to a lack of efficiency, and in fact, that shared service centre, that was their main motivating driver. They knew that they were taking so long to pay people that it was causing all sorts of supply chain issues. So again, a good process in place will fix that problem straight away.

Heather:        Absolutely.

Heather:        Who is the ideal client for your solution? And you have mentioned some not-for-profits, the multi-sites, restaurant sites. Is there anyone else who you would wrap up into who the ideal customer is for your solution?

Martin:           Yeah. I think a lot of it these days, when you create a piece of software, is who do you integrate with? And the good fits for us are the Xero customers, the QuickBooks Online customers, because they can just hook up straight away. And also, Sage 50 and 200 in the UK.

Martin:           In terms of the types of business, construction is strong with us. What we have with the chains of … you know, the retail chains, care home chains, that kind of thing, is departmental spending control. What we have with construction is project control.

Martin:           A bit part of Zahara’s also the budget, the ability to create a budget, say for your latest job. So if you’re a construction company, you’ve just picked up a contract to build three new houses, you may well want to create a project for that in Zahara, and make sure that when you’re buying, all of your spend is ring-fenced inside that budget and inside that project, and you can report against it.

Martin:           Not every type of construction company. We wouldn’t deal with the very largest, and we wouldn’t deal with the very smallest, but those that are kind of … you know, I’d say that they’ve got two or three people in their accounts department, and the buying is a bit of a problem for them, you know, keeping track of everything, that’s our ideal customer.

Heather:        Yeah. And allocating it amongst the three projects, and making sure that Jan’s not sending it off to her own house to rebuild and renovate her own house, miraculously, at the same time.

Martin:           Absolutely. Absolutely. “Who ordered this luxury flooring that we’re not putting in this house?”

Heather:        Yes. Yeah. And unfortunately, we come across those situations time and time again.

Heather:        What are the outcomes you’d love to see from people using your solution?

Martin:           One customer, I need to check in with him, they came online probably last July, last August, July … yeah, last July time. And he said to me, “Look, we’re a double glazing company, we basically manufacture windows, we put windows and conservatories into people’s houses.” He said, “I’m pretty sure that if control our buying, we can put 3% on the bottom line.” And it’s like, “Wow. If you do that, I will be honoured, because you’re using our software.”

Martin:           But that’s the kind of thing that we want to hear, that people are getting … The tradeoff benefits of Zahara are things like that. If you control the buying process, then first of all you can knock out the waste, the duplicate purchases, but also you can really control where your people are buying from as well. Their problem was simple things, like the guys in the field are buying their mastics from the wrong supplier, so they’re paying, like, a pound a tube more than they need to, and they’re like, “This just annoys us so much.” And it’s kind of … you know, they’re great stories.

Martin:           Those are the types of things that are a joy to hear. “We’re way more efficient.” “We’re paying our suppliers more quickly now.” And if we can get the feedback like this, that we put two, three percentage points on the bottom line, then that’s phenomenal. That’s what we want to hear.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. And it makes a cost-effective solution.

Heather:        So are you saying to me that … I have the solution in place, and I have an agreement with the hardware store that they’re going to say me an item, let’s say a piece of timber, at two pounds every time I buy it from them. And is that going to flag it in the system?

Martin:           Some of the things we have in Zahara are things like, we answer the question, “Where do I buy this from?” So you can search for a product code or a product. It can be used in the field by the construction guy. He can literally place an order on his mobile.

Martin:           More than likely though, with construction, and part of the problem, again, we can solve, is that the guys who turn up at the trade counter to get their things … And the accounts department won’t be too concerned about the price. They’re not going to scrutinise the pricing of the trade counter [inaudible 00:25:33]. It’s the audit trail behind it. It’s like, “Did you actually get this? How do I know?” ‘Cause they’ll receive an invoice, and they’ll try and marry that with the paperwork, or the collection docket, and if it’s sat in the guy’s van, then they might never get it, and they might never know whether this is a genuine purchase.

Martin:           Pricing in certain organisations isn’t so much of an issue, but if you take things like a care home business, chain of homes … There’s a lot of obsession there about toilet rolls, I can tell you, where the managing director is making sure that they’re buying their consumable items at the place he determines, or they determine, is the right place to get them from, at the price he’s agreed. So Zahara will definitely do all that. You can load up your pricing from your suppliers and distribute that down to your buyers, so they’re only buying the appropriate things from the appropriate people.

Heather:        So it’s actually minimising decisions for people, and allowing someone to have made that decision to everyone? Which is a good thing. The less decisions that you need to make, sometimes in a business, about [crosstalk 00:26:40] toilet rolls, et cetera.

Martin:           Yeah, exactly. Certain organisations will allow all their departments to buy inside their budget, and the scrutiny will come if they go over budget, and we handle that as well in Zahara. So I think empowerment is good, allowing the teams to buy what they need to buy when they need to buy it and not be bureaucratic. But also, having the controls in place. If somebody wants to sit and scrutinise or analyse spend, they can do.

Heather:        Excellent, so minimising bureaucracy and giving empowerment and initiative to them.

Heather:        Can you name a favourite feature of your product that everyone should know about?

Martin:           I think the approvals, hands down, are something that we’re very proud of. In the sense that there’s so many different ways to do workflows, and so many different ways to do approvals.

Martin:           We kicked it off doing it one way, and then one of our customers, who’s a lovely guy in Texas, he kind of called me up. He said, “Hey, if you do it this way.” And we kind of took on his advice, and worked that particular part of Zahara.

Martin:           So the ability to set out the flow of who’s going to be involved when somebody wants to buy something, or the flow when an invoice comes in, is really nice, and when people go, “Ah, I get it,” when the customers who are taking a trial, they grasp how our workflows work, they’re kind of unleashed. They can go ahead and do whatever they want with it.

Martin:           I’m very proud of that feature, actually, ’cause it’s the core of everything we do.

Heather:        Excellent.

Heather:        What tips do you have for businesses wanting to successfully roll out Zahara systems?

Martin:           Plan it out.

Martin:           I think what we say to potential customers is, “Look at the structure of your business.” So for example, if you had five companies in your Xero, then that’s the first thing, is that we need to marry up. Alongside each of those five companies in Xero will be five business units in Zahara. So it’s getting the structure right.

Martin:           We have these things called divisions, which are the natural groupings of people, and inside the divisions are where the workflows sit. Once you’ve got your structure right, really, everything is plain sailing. Things like bringing in your supply list, your coding, that’s straightforward. Creating your workflows. And then good testing. Making sure that you have a good two week period where you create as many dummy orders as you like, and you’re making sure that those approvers are getting the notifications correctly. So each scenario you put through as a purchase, it’s hitting the right inbox, the right approver. And that makes for a successful rollout.

Martin:           But I think what’s so great about cloud-based software, like Zahara, is that the time to go live can be very short. Most of the time, when we’re involved in setting somebody up, we’re held back by the customer collating information. So those that sign up for a 30 day trial and just get on with it, when they go, “Yep, we’re going ahead,” they sign up and start paying, that’s encouraging. It means that they’ve found their way round the help articles, and they can kind of set it all up. But most people, it’s like, “Yeah, I’ll get you that supply list,” or they’ve sent the supplier list through to import, and then they realise that it’s got 800 dead suppliers that they haven’t used for three years and there’s no point putting them in the system. So it’s a good opportunity to clean up your data, I think.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely. A good declutter before setup. Which, again, is a good process to go through. Frustrating for you that it’s slowing them down getting onboarded, but it’s a good something for them to go through.

Heather:        So Martin, what apps, software, or tools do you love, or can you not live without?

Martin:           That’s a great question. I think at the moment, we use Zoho a lot in the business.

Martin:           We started off using Zoho CRM. We wanted something which had custom modules. There’s a learning point for anyone who’s creating software, you have to allow customizations, or you have to allow the customer to express themselves. So we used Zoho, we then moved on to using Zoho Desk for the help desk. A big part of what we’re doing now is helping the customers on board, the customers’ success is really important to us, or helping them answer their support queries.

Martin:           In terms of really nice little tools, there’s something that we started using probably about six months ago called Better Proposals, very affordable, really nice way of creating proposals that we can send to clients. Our holiday software, Timetastic, I really like. The guy behind that has created something really simple and elegant.

Martin:           I think elegant’s a great word. I love elegant software.

Heather:        What was that, Timetastic? What was that?

Martin:           Timetastic. It’s … All the team, if they want to put their holiday requests in.

Heather:        Oh.

Martin:           It manages their time off, which is good.

Heather:        So it’s time-tastic?

Martin:           Yeah. I always dread it, ’cause I get a … “Matt wants time off.” Oh God, does he? Typical entrepreneur.

Heather:        “Why can’t you work 24/7?” This is why we have robots. They never need turning off.

Martin:           Well, absolutely. That is a fear to a lot of accounts departments, but we still need intelligent decision-making for a long time yet.

Heather:        Absolutely. Well it’s nice to hear of a few there that I’ve not heard of.

Heather:        Martin, what does the next five years look like for you?

Martin:           I think there’s a lot we want to do with Zahara. For me every day is about growth. You know, where are the next customers coming from? And I work with the marketing guy, with the sales guys, to push the product forward.

Martin:           More customers, to me, equals more functionality, more features, so there’s a lot we want to put into Zahara. And I think it’s like, last year was a really nice year. It had its moments, but it was enjoyable. You know what I mean? And that’s what I want more than anything else.

Martin:           Getting to the ripe old age of 50 in a couple of weeks’ time, personally, you start taking perspective, and vacations are important to me now, getting time out. But in terms of the business, it’s seeing that growth. Seeing the customers enjoying using Zahara and recommending it to their friends.

Martin:           That’s the next phase for us, I think, is additional growth with more automation, more features, and probably getting involved in paying some of these invoices as well. Getting a FinTech angle into Zahara as well.

Heather:        Yeah, that seems to be an area that a lot of people are exploring, those collaborative opportunities to [crosstalk 00:33:52] create your own ecosystem around Zahara.

Martin:           Yeah, absolutely.

Heather:        Which kind of goes back to what you said about Zoho, and, “Try and give the option to be as bespoke as possible.”

Martin:           Yes. Yeah, indeed. And I think there’s so much more we want to put into Zahara, and a lot of it’s kind of … You have to time that well. You don’t want to overwhelm the existing customers, and you don’t want to make something complicated that’s not complicated.

Martin:           So in a measured way, we’ll be pushing and expanding.

Heather:        Yeah, absolutely.

Heather:        You’ve got your 50th birthday coming up. I’ll ask you, what do you do when you like to forget about work? What do you do to celebrate your time?

Martin:           I’ve got a dog that needs walking, who’s fantastic. My two sons are grown up and left home now, so they’re both up in London working. catching up with them is important to us. That’s the monthly visit when the washing comes home.

Martin:           It might be a little bit tragic, but I did buy a motorbike last year, and I’ve always had a motorbike licence, and I got a Triumph Bonneville 00:35:12. It was an exciting moment, and I bought a jacket to go alongside it. So on the fairer days, I’m going out on my bike now and just having nice rides. Nothing too mad, just taking it steady, and yeah.

Martin:           For me leisure time’s really important. I don’t like to work at weekends if I can help it. I like to clear my mind and do different things. I think the laziest thing is TV, though. I read an article recently saying it’s not good enough now just to be well read, you have to be well watched. So yesterday we sat down, Game of Thrones season eight, episode one. That was a big event in my house, I can tell you. I love Game of Thrones.

Heather:        I did spot you on Instagram, sitting in the Game of Thrones chair.

Martin:           Yes. Yeah, absolutely.

Heather:        Did you have that blown up in the lounge room as you were watching?

Martin:           No I didn’t actually. It’s quite funny, because my wife has kind of dipped in and out of episodes when it’s been on. It’s normally me and my eldest son, who’s obsessed about it, but for one of her birthdays I took her to Northern Ireland so she could look at the Game of Thrones sites, and then last year, we went to Dubrovnik, which is the home of King’s Landing, and that was where that photo was taken.

Martin:           So it’s like, “Well, what am I doing for my 50th?” “Well, we’ll take you to Iceland.” I think it’s a slightly skewed idea there of holidays, but yeah, it’s quite fun.

Heather:        Yeah, no, it is. It’s good to break away, and it did seem like it was something that a lot of people have engaged with. I recognise I’ve created massive efficiencies ’cause I’ve never watched it. All that time I have, missing out on it.

Heather:        But I’d like to leave you with one final question, Martin. How can people get in touch with you and Zahara?

Martin:           Through our website, Zahara software dot com. And that is a gateway into speaking to us. We’re there on the live chat every day, and we’d love to hear from them as well. So anyone who has kind of resonated with anything we’ve said today, in this podcast, I’d be delighted to hear from them.

Heather:        Thank you so much for your time today Martin. I’m sure our listeners will have gained a lot from what you’ve shared with us, and we’ll review how they can potentially use it with their small and medium sized businesses.

Martin:           Thanks Heather, it’s been a pleasure.