Scaling a business is never easy. Under enormous pressures and demands , CEO’s and their staff often work long hours at pivotal times to push through sprints and meet the deadlines required by investors and the board.
We spoke to our CEO, Nikki Evans, about her experiences scaling an SAAS and what advice she might have for someone considering starting, or scaling their own business.
How did you get your business started?
"I started my business on the back of years working in banking strategy. I had an idea that pre-paid company cards were coming to Europe and I wanted to be one of the first the break into that market. Our initial product which was a pre-paid gift card for shopping centres that worked with their existing card reading technology in stores. I had one person working with me then, and I pulled in help from different family members and friends, when they had the time. So in terms of starting a business, I would advise to look not only at your professional network, but also at your friends and family? Who can provide some support? Who would help you out. What skills do they have? Not everyone will say yes, but it’s always worth asking.
What was it like when you were just about up and running?
The early years were both challenging and exciting. Of course there were days when I wondered what on earth I was doing, but I just kept seeing tangible customer growth, so there was a reason to keep going. We did operate at a loss for a few years, and moving into the black was a real milestone. As I began to grow the PerfectCard team, I was able to step back into the leadership role that allowed me to create stronger a vision for the company.
When did you decide to create a company expense tool?
We decided to break into the company expense card market a couple of years ago. But it wasn’t all about business credit cards. Our reward card product, PerfectIncentive, was doing really well, and we had developed excellent software for the transition to SAAS. It was easy to see the benefits to small businesses of using one of our pre-paid business cards + our financial software, instead of singing up to a credit card program. Business debit cards existed, but they didn’t have integrated software. Expense software existed, but they didn’t provide you with a company expense card. We thought – we can do both! Corporate credit cards weren’t offering the best value and their policies were leaving some businesses out in the cold. Company credit cards also don’t allow companies to control their spend in the same way as pre-paid company cards do. When we put all the existing pieces together it was a simple decision. All we had to do was duplicate and then pivot our existing product and like magic – Pecan was born!
What advice do you have for anyone starting their own SAAS?
Obviously, the quality of engineering is key. We are very lucky to have such a strong team in our Galway office. The other thing I would say is don’t be afraid to start small. We started as a one-person company and have grown each year since. Clever use of resources and taking a few risks can pay off on a large scale. If you’re passionate and have tenacity, that will go a long way too. And finally, beyond engineering, you’ll need other experts. Find people you trust and listen to them. There are areas of your business that you are going to find challenging, allow other people to step into those areas and take a lead. It will help you stay focussed on the road map of growth and stay realistic and grounded with the right context."
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