Why This Job-Costing Solution Comes With Branded Baby Swag | Tony Harcourt
Why This Job-Costing Solution Comes With Branded Baby Swag | Tony Harcourt
“We’re a job-costing platform in that our underlying goal is to give people real-time profitability data on their jobs. Not field service jobs, not plumbing jobs, going out and doing 10 jobs in a day, but projects, workshops, engineering factory jobs, where you want to track the margins on the time that you’ve spent, plus possibly the stock that you’ve used off the shelf, plus any purchases that you’ve made, whether that be for parts or subcontractors to ensure that SMBs, in particular, don’t lose money on jobs”. – Tony Harcourt, WorkGuru.
Today I am speaking with Tony Harcourt, who is the Founder of WorkGuru. Tony is a consultant software engineer and speaker on business processes and cloud systems. He’s worked with clients ranging from mining giants to family businesses on their systems, platforms and processes. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow and prosper and believes that it’s impossible to do without the best-of-breed cloud solutions to save time, and increase business visibility of real-time reviews of your business operations.
He has led the Rype Group for six years. After leading the Rype Group for six years, in 2018, Tony co-founded WorkGuru with Michael Davis to fill a gap in the market. He’s currently focusing on helping manufacturing businesses scale and improve the profitability of their enterprises, particularly in the mining-related sectors in rural and regional Australia.
In this episode, Tony Harcourt talks about his journey from the early days of the Xero ecosystem through to leading a Cloud Integration business where he recognised a gap in the market for a job-costing solution. Without undertaking proper job costing, businesses do not have a clear idea if they are making money on certain projects and are unable to make informed decisions. This led him to establish WorkGuru.io.
We also discuss:
The journey to selling The Rype Group.
The philosophy Product is king, but sales are the kingmaker.
Why this job-costing solution comes with branded baby swag.
Tony’s perspective on the future of the tech industry.
How has your week been, Tony?
Tony: Really good thanks, Heather, and thanks for having me. It’s been a fun week full of Christmas functions, so have a great week. How about you?
Heather: Yes, I actually got bitten by a caterpillar this morning.
Tony: Good start…
Heather: Much to my shock.
Tony: … to the Friday.
Tony: Was it a very hungry caterpillar?
Heather: Yeah, he bit me three times, and about a month ago a spider bit me, so I seem to be attracting things on a monthly basis here at the moment. That was a bit of a surprise for me. I’ve never been bitten by a caterpillar before.
Tony: It would be a new one for me, as well, I don’t think since I was a kid.
Heather: Yeah, absolutely. But it’s fine, I’m surviving for all the people outside of Australia who are freaking out that I got bitten by a caterpillar. It’s okay, I am still living, and I expect these things to happen. In the interest of transparency, I do strategically partner with WorkGuru, and you can read more about that in the endorsement disclosure or you can contact me. But the interview that we’re going to have today, it’s very much about sharing Tony’s story in the industry. Tony, I’ve known you since the very, very early days of Xero. Fill our listeners in on your story.
How you came to establish WorkGuru?
Tony: Yeah, thanks, Heather. It’s been a weird journey. When I was still working in corporate Australia, I wrote my first Xero integrated app startup called Cash View Plus, which was a cashflow forecasting and analytics tool, which didn’t commercially succeed, but very much introduced me to the Xero ecosystem. I came to my first Xerocon I think in about 2014 and met all of the Xero team, you and a bunch of other people around about that time. At the tail end of that year, I left the company that I was working for and joined Michael Davis, my co-founder at WorkGuru, at the Rype Group, which we worked on together right up until just a month ago. We just sold that business. And we spent that time doing cloud implementation for people of every kind of system. Everything from job costing to inventory management, to e-commerce platforms, to ticketing systems, to field service. I’ve worked with a whole lot of the apps in the Xero ecosystem.
As your intro said, in 2018, we got asked … 2017, actually, we got asked a bunch of times if we could integrate platforms that didn’t work together, so could we join inventory and job costing together for people? There wasn’t a nice way of doing it without trying to tell SMB clients they needed to go and buy an ERP solution. That’s not a really good thing for them to have to do maintenance costs and take them off Xero, which is not what we like, we love Xero for its flexibility and ease. We actually started building that code 20th of December, 2017 actually, I wrote my first line of code for WorkGuru. So we’re coming up to five years in four days time. It’s been a fun journey and that’s where we are today. With a very fully-fledged platform these days, that I’m very happy with where we’re at, but it’s been a fun journey to get here.
Heather: Absolutely. You are one of the people in the industry who clearly has a very, very, very deep understanding of the inventory space, if there’s ever a question in any of the forums, you’re always jumping in. You can talk to a number of the solutions out there and you still actively do that, which I love. Even if WorkGuru is not the answer, you still can point them in the direction, depending on what they have. It’s really exciting to see that you, through this deep knowledge of the industry for the last decade, but obviously it started five years ago, came to establish a solution. You identified a missing part and you came to establish a solution.
Where did the name WorkGuru come from?
Tony: That’s actually boring, but a funny, six-month-long story. It’s really hard to find the name for a software platform that somebody doesn’t have registered anywhere else in the world. It was a no-name ERP for a little while, while we were trying to figure out things. We actually registered three domain names and WorkGuru was the one that the team at the time, voted on. It was literally just a process of trying to find a name, and it’s not a sexy process, but it’s writing lists going, “Yes, no, can’t get the domain name, and don’t like the sound of that one” or, “Somebody’s got a trademark on that one.” It was a fun process.
Heather: Yeah. Well, you’ve actually come up with both a really simple name but quite an applicable name. Well done on actually finding that.
Tony: Thank you. It was fun.
Heather: I’m glad. That creativity is not an area that I like to do myself. That’s interesting. I saw a post recently that someone who I also deeply admire, Tyler Caskey.
He wrote, “The user interface and the simplicity of the system of WorkGuru for very complex outcomes are superb. It’s probably my favourite job tracking system”. That was very nice feedback from Tyler Caskey.
Tony: Yeah, very, very lovely. And I didn’t even have to pay him for that. That was just something that he did nicely all by himself.
Heather: No, he’s a great guy.
What is WorkGuru and what does it do for its customers?
Tony: Yeah, so we’re a job costing platform in that our underlying goal is to give people real-time profitability data on their jobs. Not field service jobs, not plumbing jobs, going out and doing 10 jobs in a day, but projects, workshops, engineering factory jobs, where you want to track the margins on the time that you’ve spent, plus possibly the stock that you’ve used off the shelf, plus any purchases that you’ve made, whether that be for parts or subcontractors to ensure that SMBs, in particular, don’t lose money on jobs.
Through the amount of consulting that I’ve done over the last 10 years, it’s horrifying to see how many small businesses do a whole lot of work to lose money. The whole point of something like WorkGuru is to make it easy to track those jobs in real-time. And if you are going over budget so you can activate it at that point in time rather than three months later when you’re going through and tallying up all your receipts going, “Oh, we lost $50,000 on that job.” That’s the point of WorkGuru is to try and give people real-time data that they can make decisions of.
Heather: And it’s really important, especially as a business becomes slightly complex, that they understand what areas of the business are actually making that profitability. Because you may well at the end of the day, see there’s cash in the bank, but you may be focusing on the wrong area of your business and using something like that will help you understand that.
Tony: Absolutely, yeah, that’s very key. Is this type of job the right type of job for us to be doing? Is this client, even though they’re our highest revenue client, are we making money on them? Those are the kind of questions we’re there to answer.
What businesses/industries does WorkGuru suit, and what businesses/industries does it not suit? What global markets is it available in?
Tony: Yeah, great question. We’ve actually released a new version of the platform specifically targeting professional services industries that don’t need that inventory. On that side of things, the architects, and engineers of the world who they’re really tracking time and progress claims, things like that from the white-collar industry point of view. The WorkGuru Plus which is with full inventory production jobs, and multiple warehouse storage locations is very much targeted at manufacturing and services. People who work on big things or complex projects where you are using time and materials and purchases. We’ve got boat builders, conveyor belt repair companies, we’ve got greenhouse manufacturers, we’ve got camper trailer builders, we’ve got caravan manufacturers. Anything there in that sort of heavy industry where you are tracking those time and materials together in a workshop environment. Broad-based on the industry, but it’s probably more about the shape of the business problem.
Heather: It’s great that you’ve got a solution here that’s actually helping the manufacturing industry in Australia. And I for one know that there’s actually a massive shortage of camper vans in Australia, so.
Tony: Yes, let’s just say that none of our campervan or caravaning clients is losing money. They’re all pre-booked for two years.
Heather: Yeah. Oh well, at least if they are short-staffed they can embrace something like WorkGuru hopefully to help them along the way there.
What regions does WorkGuru work in globally?
Tony: Obviously Australia and New Zealand, but we’ve also got clients in Hong Kong, Singapore and Germany. And our aim is to be opening a UK office next year, probably at the tail end of next year. We fundamentally work globally. The only place we haven’t done a huge amount of testing is the US as yet. And that is generally speaking because of the tax rates issue that everyone has with the states of the US, but other than that we’re relatively global.
Heather: Yeah, it’s a shame about the complexities there, but it is what it is. One of the things that I’m constantly harping on about in the industry is that I see there’s a really deep need for inventory specialists and it’s an area that bookkeepers or cloud integrators or management accountants can move into to increase their earnings, increase their value and sort of niche in a particular area.
Are you finding that bookkeepers or management accountants or cloud integrators are specialising in WorkGuru?
Tony: Yeah, we are. We’ve got quite a few partners and it’s great knowing all of the cloud integrators and a lot of bookkeepers and accountants from our years with Rype. A lot of the people who used to be our friendly competitors are now our partners. We’ve got some really, really good partners all over the country from both the integration and bookkeeper side of things. Accountants tend to be more referral partners to us. They do a lot of compliance work and the strategic advisory piece rather than the implementation I think, although there are a couple of accounting firms that we work with that have specific cloud teams that we’re working relatively closely with. Really just depends on what the individual accountants and bookkeepers look for in their business. But yeah, so really good network of people to be working with.
Heather: And I guess that speaks to the importance of community and collaboration over competition and not burning your bridges with your competition.
Tony: Hugely. Look, it’s really important and even when we had Rype, and Rype’s still going, it was brought bought by Yolanda Gerges, so still running, going really well. But even when we had Rype, we never felt like we were in competition with the other cloud integrators because there’s a lot of work out there for everybody and it’s one of the great things about the Xero ecosystem is you’re not sitting there trying to pick a fight with your competitor. You’re going through exactly the same things they are. You’re getting the same client questions, you’re having the same product problems or the same, “How do I solve this issue?” And sometimes it’s just really nice to know that there’s other people going through exactly the same thing.
Heather: Yeah, there is so much work out there and I very much feel if I wasn’t clear before, you can increase your dare I say it, hourly rate, if you specialise in inventory. Whatever that solution be, if you specialise there, you are going to be able to because people want it and they’re prepared to pay for that support. And sometimes offering work that has a few project lumps in it is interesting and helps you level out compliance delivery, helps even out compliance delivery. You mentioned that you recently sold the original company, Rype Group, to Yolanda Gerges. Is that how I say it?
Tony: I think so, yes.
What could you share with us about that experience of selling the Rype Group?
Tony: About the sale or about the company?
Heather: About the experience of … Well, so we should make clear to people that Rype Group was essentially one of the earliest cloud integrators in this space and about the experience of wrapping it up and selling it.
Tony: Yeah, that’s an interesting one. We really came to the realisation that we had to do that because the rate the WorkGuru was growing it and we weren’t probably paying Rype the attention that it needed. We were really lucky that we’ve had excellent staff in that company for a really long time and they were doing a lot of the heavy lifting for us. But yeah, there’s a point where you realise that you’re not doing either business justice because you can’t spend a lot of time, the time that you want on each of them. Coming to that realisation that we needed to do that was … It was kind of liberating but it was also kind of sad.
And it’s funny because obviously I still want Rype to go brilliantly well and I have no doubt that it will and I’ll keep referring them work, but it’s sad on one part of it that it’s no longer mine and no longer Michael’s. But also I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to focus on WorkGuru even for the last month and a bit since we sold. I feel like I can get so much more done on the platform and on the WorkGuru side of things without having to split my time between, as you say, consulting between all of those other platforms plus our own.
Heather: Excellent. It is interesting that decision to sell or whether to be the entrepreneur who’s got his hand in many pies and I’m sure it was the right decision there Yolanda seems very capable and I look forward to what she makes of it.
Tony: Yeah, me too. And I think she’ll do great things with it.
What would you tell your younger self now?
Tony: Yeah, we were having this conversation a little while ago and I think I tongue in cheek said sell more. Product is king but sales is the king maker. And I think that’s probably something that I’m a product person and as a consultant I always want the products to be the solution to the problem. I’ve got that kind of consulting background and I haven’t done as much probably sales focus as I should. That’s probably one of the things that I tell my youngest self is focus more on sales because sales build your revenue that lets you build the product faster and it’s just a different way of looking at things. That’s probably what I tell myself. Whether I’d be able to do it or not, I don’t know whether my personality type is enough to be the guy that’s picking up the phone 200 times a week.
But yeah, I would probably tell myself to focus on that more, and look, I think it’s something that everyone should do. Sales, it’s the lifeblood of business. If you’re not making sales, you don’t generate revenue, you can’t pay anyone including yourself. I think it’s something that we all need to focus on a little bit. It’s got a little bit of a dirty name cause of the ’80s connotation of the sleazy sales guys and things like that. And it doesn’t need to be like that and it shouldn’t be like that. But I think there’s still an aversion and I know that I still have some feelings of aversion to actively going to sell products when even if you’re solving a problem for somebody. That’s probably what I would focus on and tell myself to improve.
Heather: Yeah, absolutely. I initially started this podcast focused on interviewing founders and one of the things I deeply regret is I never took the time to interview one of the geniuses in the industry of sales, which was Jason Forbes. I never took the time to interview him about his skills and we sadly lost him last year, but so many people said to me, “I learned so much about selling from him” and you never felt when you were having a conversation that he was selling to you. But he was outlining the product, he was talking about this and this case study and was just very, very nicely able to have that conversation without any pressure there. But of course, you need to be a part of that. We need to have sales and this needs to be a respectful relationship.
Because I know that a number of people have mentioned Post Xerocon, both in Australia and in the UK, they had all of these appointments lined up and then the accountants and bookkeepers ghosted them, which is a bit disrespectful of their time. If you don’t want to do it, cancel the appointment.
Heather: Don’t ghost people. We’re in this together and we’re trying to find … I see these relationships as partnerships and you as an extended part of the team and if I need that support, I want it to be there. You can’t do that and ghost people.
Tony: Yeah. Look, it’s unfortunate. It’s almost accepted with the software industry that about 30% of your demos won’t show no matter how many pre-engagement phone calls or email follow-ups that you do. And it’s certainly disappointing, but when you do get an interested bookkeeper and accountant turn up and they’re really there to try and find a solution for the client, you can have a really fantastic conversation with them but a very, very deep level because they’ve already got so much domain knowledge about their client. I get a lot of value out of doing those ones anyway.
Heather: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. I always say a question is a gift and if they ask something and you go, “Oh, maybe it can,” and you kind of explore and it may just be that it has it or there’s one tiny little thing that can make it suitable for this whole industry and opens up your mind. That’s very exciting.
Tony: Absolutely. And that’s probably one of the key things for us is that we’ve spent so long consulting that you listen to your clients and you ask a boatload of questions and we have clients that have set WorkGuru up in ways that we never designed it for to service industries that we never designed it for and it works beautifully for them and you just kind of have to applaud the ingenuity of the way that they do it and it really does like I say, open your eyes and my eyes in particular into how many different ways that you can use a platform to solve so many different shapes of problem.
Heather: In terms of you talking about how you’re actively listening to customers, I know you have touched on the release of WorkGuru Lite.
Can you share the story of how Xerocon led you to launch the lite edition of WorkGuru?
Tony: Yeah, absolutely. We focused on the fabrication and manufacturing industries because that was where we were getting lots of questions when we were consulting a few years ago. That was the genesis were job costing and inventory together. But throughout the course of Xerocon, I think we had 250 conversations in two days kind of thing. It was very entertaining. But there were a lot of clients who said, “Look, my” … What a lot of accountants, bookkeepers said, “Look, my client needs the job costing, they need the timesheet, they need purchasing but they don’t need inventory and they won’t pay for an inventory module kind of piece” which is fair, totally understand that. And I think we probably had that conversation, must have been at least 20 times in the course of two days. And luckily the way that we’ve built the platform is very easy for us to create a branched edition. It actually runs off the same source code, there’s no separate infrastructure. And I spun up the proof of concept of the WorkGuru Lite edition in four hours on a Saturday morning.
Heather: Oh, wow.
Tony: It ended up being incredibly easy to do and I sort of hit myself and said, “Why didn’t you do this two years ago?” And it’s because you didn’t know, but the clients tell you something that’s blindingly obvious once that you’ve done it. And so we’ve got a lot of interest out of that. But yeah, it was very straightforward, the whole bunch of people said, “Yeah, we don’t need that bit. We love all of the other stuff you have, but my client won’t pay for the inventory side of things.”
Heather: That’s fantastic. And that’s such an immense benefit of these community events when we come together and we can speak to people in real life. Because you could have put out a survey upon survey upon survey and just asked the wrong question and never got to the crux of that. But now you’ve got a completely new, bright, shiny product that is meeting a whole industry’s need.
Tony: Yeah, absolutely.
Heather: Based on active listening.
Tony: And being told we were wrong. That’s the other thing, is accountants and bookkeepers very good at telling us where we’re wrong or where we missed something and we’re mostly very happy to take that feedback on. And it’s great. And look, yeah, the good things come out of listening to not just your clients but your stakeholders and partners as well.
Heather: I spoke to another person who was a vendor for the very first time at Xerocon and they said they were astonished at the level of detail the accountants and bookkeepers were coming to them with to say they wanted this to happen. They were going, “I didn’t realise you knew my product intensely and were then going to come and give me feedback on it.”
Tony: Yeah. I had two ladies, in particular, turn up with notepads with a checklist to run through points that they wanted to discuss with me. And I think this was my eighth or ninth Xerocon, I’ve done a few. I’m used to the level of detailed questions that the very engaged bookkeepers and accountants ask, but that’s a new one to have people turn up with a checklist of questions to run through with you so they don’t forget anything. It’s fantastic.
Heather: Very, very smart, smart ladies. One of the Xerocons, I stood at the Xero support desk for four hours, no kidding, four hours, and they just kept allocating me a new person for the new section that I was commenting on. They were like, “Okay, we’re taking those notes, we’re going to talk to the payroll person now and now we’re going to talk to the inventory person.” Because again, that in-person you feel is going to do more and shift the needle than sometimes submitting something. And also it’s the articulation of explaining what it is. Using that language, “Oh okay, I wrote it down, you didn’t get what I meant, this is what I meant” and putting it back into your terms, et cetera.
Tony: Yeah, and that’s a really good point. That’s very, very hard, particularly for devs and clients and accountants and bookkeepers, customer success and salespeople to use the same language to describe the same thing. And sometimes you can send 20 emails back and forth and you’re talking at complete cross purposes. You jump on a five-minute screen share even before you see somebody and then you go, “Oh, now I know what you mean.” Yeah, that communication piece and being in person is just a far more effective way of getting that kind of feedback.
Heather: Absolutely. I remember having a back and forth, back and forth with simPRO because on the word accounts, because for me it meant general ledger accounts, but they were using it to explain bank accounts and it’s just like, “I’ve got no idea what you’re trying to say to me” and it went on for like 90 minutes and in the end, I figured out, “Oh, they’re talking about bank accounts.”
Tony: Yeah, it could be such little things that can cause enormous confusion. Yeah.
Heather: Yeah, absolutely.
Tony: Good old human interaction.
Heather: They would never, I guess refer to them as general ledger accounts, which is just second nature for me.
Tony: Of course.
Heather: You posted this week that a client called you and told you about a recent WorkGuru implementation that was saving them so much time.
Can you share what your client plans to do with all of that spare time thanks to WorkGuru?
Tony: To paraphrase, he basically said he was going to fire his wife from the business so she could have another baby, which was a fantastic phone call to get. We’ve updated integration with our partners at Tanda, so the integration there that lets you clock onto jobs in WorkGuru and track your time against the job and then send in the background those time sheets across to Tanda for their awesome award interpretation. Then the costed and rounded timesheet comes back into WorkGuru, so you’ve got the award-interpreted cost on the job in WorkGuru and already in Tanda ready to process payroll. That was basically his wife’s full-time job for most of the week and when he called me and told me that he basically wouldn’t need her to do that anymore and they’ve been trying to free her up out of business for quite a little while, that’s really awesome feedback to get. Yeah, I did enjoy posting that one.
Do you have some baby swag merchandise ready to send him?
Tony: I don’t have any left but I actually do still have … We’ve got a couple of WorkGuru onesies around for WorkGuru babies so I’ll definitely get them one sorted out if their baby does tend to come along in the next little while.
Heather: Excellent. And kind of back to that story, what’s really interesting, is we’re here in Brisbane and this is our big country town of Brisbane and it’s fabulous that you are able to establish WorkGuru and alongside in the CBD we have Tanda, which is the time and attendance payroll and workforce solution and you’re obviously … We see each other at events, we see the Tanda people, we see the WorkGuru people and that you’re actually able to develop these relationships and we’re also able to … Well, you are, able to grow these software technology companies out of Brisbane, which is so exciting. Well done to you and well done to the industry for communicating and working together like that.
Tony: Thank you. Look, I think it’s one of the ways that Brisbane works. Everyone comes to Brisbane and says it’s a big country town and I think that’s because it’s friendly and I don’t think it is a big country town anymore. I think we’re well and truly into the city stage, but the industry here is fantastic and the founders and the team at places like Tanda and Pinch and all of the other great apps that are floating around in Brisbane, Content Snare, there’s a bunch that we do work with and they’re just very open and approachable. When you have a question or when you have a problem, you can jump on the phone with the key person and like you say, back to that conversation before, you don’t have to have the 20 emails getting bounced around. You go and have a coffee, you have a beer, you jump on a screen share, and it’s one of the wonderful things about the ecosystem here.
Heather: Yeah, it seems that I kind of get the feeling that Brisbane actually doesn’t realise how awesome Brisbane is, and it is interesting how … What I’m thinking is Tanda is now global and I’m pretty sure it’s in the US so maybe they can give you some tips and advice on selling, the sales tax in the US because they’ve gone there and done that.
Tony: I should learn from them a bit more.
Heather: Tony, I know that you have a great understanding of the industry, you’re deeply involved in the industry.
What is your outlook on the tech industry in the short term, in the near future, and in the next maybe five years? What do you think is going to happen?
Tony: It’s going to become from a pervasiveness point of view, it’s businesses that don’t have tech will almost have no value. We’re seeing that generational change between businesses that have been running for 20, 30, 40, 50 years with the same founders and a lot of family businesses and even many $20, $30 million family businesses are changing over. And I was chatting to an accountant yesterday who’s got a $30 million a year family business that runs off Terminal software still, and they couldn’t possibly sell it because no new business owner is going to buy a business that runs off a DOS Terminal in 2023.
Heather: Does it use mice? Does it use a mouse?
Tony: No, no, no. It’s a DOS Terminal. Like type in commands. From a pervasiveness point of view, I mean, if you can take a $30 million business and fundamentally make it unsellable because of the operational platform, that’s a pretty big thing. I still see the demand there for tech and I can’t see that doing anything except growing. And that means that as founders a product people, we have to not only make sure that we’re stable and able to grow, we have to make our interfaces intuitive and powerful for users from the 14 year old apprentice right up to the 70 year old that’s been there for 20, 30, 40 years and use computers because they have to, not because they want to. That’s challenge number one.
The other thing I think is that the easy days of venture capital money, now that interest rates have gone up, inflation’s a thing, it’s going to be significantly harder for … We’re a bootstrap company so we haven’t raised, that’s fine. But I think it will be significantly harder for industry to grow super quickly on the back of what has fundamentally been free money for the last 10 years. I think you’ll see fewer platforms scaling very, very quickly just because the money won’t be available. But that’s weird because at the same time I’m going to see a massive expansion in demand for those platforms. Hopefully the revenue by selling the customers as opposed to going and selling to VCs will facilitate that growth. But it’s going to be an interesting five years for sure.
Heather: LinkedIn currently has top 2023 trends running and one of them is around venture capital and it is that we’re no longer going to see venture capital investing in could be, would be unicorns, but we’re actually going to see them investing in workhorses and you’re WorkGuru. You’re almost a horse.
Tony: Good. The venture capital market has distorted software as a business I think for the last 10 years in a really unhealthy and unsustainable way, particularly for founders who build great businesses but they’re not trying to be a billion, two billion, $3 billion, $10 billion unicorn. And that’s made them completely unattractive because of the way that the VCs think about their investment thesis. If you want to sell your business for $50 million, you are literally just not … They can’t even think about doing it because you don’t offer the return on investment that they do. It makes a lot of those founders who are building excellent businesses feel like they’re not good enough or that they’re targeting the wrong thing or they need to pivot and try and attack the whole world rather than building a really good strong, stable and sustainable business before chasing the money. I’m not sad to see that change in perspective from the VC community.
Have you seen, potentially caused by the challenges of the pandemic, an increase in the manufacturing business and thus an increase in the demand for your solution?
Tony: Yeah. There’s a lot more people trying to in-house things be just because there was massive issues with not just shutdowns but freight and logistics. There’s still a massive shortage of shipping containers and freight cargo worldwide. There’s a lot of people trying to do that, bringing a bit more of their manufacturing into Australia. We’re seeing a lot of that. We’re also seeing a lot of labour shortage unfortunately. Every one of my clients asks me if I know any boiler makers and of course I do, but they all work for my other clients so I’m not allowed to shop them around. But yeah, there is definitely a trend to doing more in Australia. And I think with the geopolitical instability on top of pandemic, on top of currency fluctuations, on top of shipping issues, that I think we’ll start to see a little bit more sovereign capability back in Australia, everything from small manufacturing right up to the military industrial work that we’re seeing happen.
Heather: Yeah, and while this is a global podcast and hopefully it’s kind of a story that resonates with everyone, one of the things that during the pandemic we had a small build happening, a small renovation happening, and we needed the roof trellises and the build was put on hold for 10 weeks while we waited for them to come from Russia. And I was like, why on earth are we getting wood from Russia for these roof trellises? They scoped everywhere and it was the only place they could get them from. Then the damn things got caught in the Panama Canal when it-
Tony: Oh, no.
Heather: One of the boats twisted in the canal and then all the boats got clogged up. It was just the most bizarrest thing that you got this tiny little renovation happening in your backyard, and because manufacturing isn’t happening anywhere in a big country with a lot of wood, I’m dependent on Russia. Yeah, so hopefully with solutions like yours and if we can encourage more accountants and bookkeepers to specialise in this area, we’re in a position to provide that support base to manufacturing companies, both freeing up staff needs, but providing a solution that surfaces useful information and can help them with the operations-
Heather: … of their business. And with saying that, sounding like a sales pitch for WorkGuru, I will again remind people that I do strategically partner with WorkGuru.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the audience? How can our listeners get in contact with you?
Tony: Yeah, so we’re always available through the website. WorkGuru.io is the website. We’ve got a 1300 number for our customers in Australia or firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got any questions about the platform. Our big thing is that we’re always happy to have a chat. If you don’t know whether it’s the right fit, you can book a meeting for us, no obligation, we will not hard sell you. Always happy to have that conversation for bookkeepers and accountants. We’re always looking for more partners in our network. Your success with this platform and your client’s success is our success. If you are looking to specialise, if you are looking to help your clients with their job costing and manufacturing space or a engineering, architecture space, whatever you want to look at, we’re more than happy to have a conversation and see if we’re a tool that you can add to your tool belt.
Heather: Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Tony, for joining me on the Cloud Stories podcast and sharing your story and sharing a bit about what WorkGuru … I’m really excited about what you’re doing and the sort of potential in the industry, both here and abroad. Really appreciate it.
Tony: Thanks Heather. Thanks for having me.
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About Heather Smith
USA Accounting Today listed Heather as one of 21 people helping shape (and reshape) the accounting industry in 2020.
A technology and lifestyle accountant with a deep understanding of automated integrated cloud business tools and how business apps can be implemented and utilised effectively to improve workflow and surface information useful for data-informed decisions. She extensively shares her methodologies, business strategies and work-life balance practices through the ‘Cloud Stories’ podcast, multiple Cloud Accounting books, the Accounting Apps newsletter, blogs and social media platforms.
A FCA, FCCA, FICB, commerce graduate, and accredited trainer.