Running fast

“What we learned in 10 days on elevate61 in the States would have taken over a year to learn otherwise.”

Brad Couper, CEO, simPRO

For fast growing Queensland tech firm simPRO, elevate61 was a game changer that has helped them hone their game-plan for launching in the US.

For Brisbane-based simPRO, business is all about helping contractors take control of their lives through the use of customised job management software.

A typical client for simPRO is an electrical or plumbing contractor who has started their business because they inherited it from their father or thought they could do a better job than their current boss. While they might be technically brilliant, it is a daily struggle to keep up with their business operations. Through simPRO’s software, they are able to adopt a standard set of operational workflows, helping them to enhance their productivity and profitability.

The idea began with founder Steve Bradshaw in 2002. He was managing an electrical contracting business and was overwhelmed by the daily slug of operational matters. He got together with a tech savvy university student who helped him devise a flexible, browser-based system to manage his business better.

The idea grew from there and simPRO now boasts in excess of 120 employees and more than 1,500 clients - thanks in large part to their decision three years ago to move from perpetual licences to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.

Never too late to learn

simPro has global ambitions and has already established an international presence with offices in the UK and New Zealand. Having had this experience, they are well versed in the costs and challenges of expanding into new territories. As a high-growth high-tech company looking to quickly enter the United States, elevate61 made perfect sense.

The company was not disappointed. The program provided access to a large and unique pool of knowledgeable and talented people many of whom had started out in Australia. The experience also provided exposure to the technology and venture capital community in the US, completely new territory for simPRO and has proved invaluable to them.

The company saw tangible results from the elevate61 tour. The conversations with investors, experts and potential clients validated that their underlying business model would work in the US, and helped them formulate a philosophy for how to adapt to the US market.

By their own admission, their approach to date has been quite simple: run hard and fast or run away scared. The experience they gained on the elevate61 program has given the simPRO team the framework to look at everything in a different light. Prior to the tour, they planned to open their first sales office in Los Angeles. Subsequently they decided LA was too big as their first port of call – literally. That’s because the company uses a traditional sales force on the ground that talks to people face to face. LA’s sheer size meant traversing the city was not practical. Hence they decided to ‘run scared’.

Instead simPRO selected Colorado as a more suitable place to learn and experiment. That’s where the first part of their philosophy came in. In a matter of weeks they had their office signed up and an executive team ready to go over to recruit. They now have a person on the ground selling. There is no doubt they are running hard and fast.