The Silicon Review
The traditional accounting practice has been tracking business performance based on long-established standards and systems. These accounting systems are dependent on outdated processes and manual labor and stays afar from using modern technology. While accounting practices should be a close function of the business they measure, it sometimes fails to respond quickly to the changing environment, thus providing misleading performance measures for business. Most of the problems related to traditional accounting practices include, inaccurate and ineffective performance measurement on businesses operating in non-conventional ways. This chasm in the market for a really simple and easy to use accounting/bookkeeping product was realized by Marc O’Dwyer, which led him in establishing Big Red Cloud Limited in 1993.
Aerial view of the company
Marc O’Dwyer founded the company with the vision to help accountants and business owners in maintaining accounts and financial affairs of business. Since he owned his own business for a long period, he realized the importance of producing a good set of accounts that could help him run his business smoothly. This concept was initiated to develop a computerized version of a manual set of three in one bookkeeping ledgers that enabled users to change or delete functions according to their need and Convenience. This change or delete function in the software is its USP that sets the company apart from its competitors, thus entitling small business owners the confidence to run their own accounts with the provision to rectify the errors.
Overview of products
The first product manifestation of the company was the Big Red Book, named after the old “red Ledgers/books” that business owners used for their manual accounts. It was a direct replica of the manual books but with an upgraded version presented in a computerized format. Its ‘spreadsheetsque’ design garnered more popularity among its users. Made it very popular with Accountants because their clients could process transactions without making too many errors.; at the end of the month or at theend of the quarter they could switch back on the general ledger and produce a clean set of Trading, Profit and Loss and Balance sheet records for their clients with minimal changes required.
In conversation with the CEO, Marc O’Dwyer
What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?
Initially the business was expanded by putting in proper pricing, product placement and promotions. But with a customer-focused strategy led by our excellent product support team, we built a strong reputation in the market for being a solid company with an easy to use product that had a person at the end of a phone to answer queries. As the market developed, we moved with the times and now we are a very “content” driven business publishing free business guides for Small Businesses to help them grow and succeed, coupled with good SEO, a marketing budget to spend on Adwords and what we have perfected is the ability to drive “relevant” traffic to our website to take out a 30 day no obligation free trial, which results in a 55% conversion rate to trials becoming paying customers.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
I would say to anyone reading this is to know your customer, know your products and don’t be afraid to price your product at a level where the customer is getting a good service and you are making a decent margin. You need to be around for the customers to support them so they won’t mind paying a fair price. As we were early adopters in the cloud (2012) we also faced challenges around educating both customers and staff members that the cloud was the way to go, of course now people look at cloud as the only way to go but back then we were similar to Christopher Columbus exploring and finding new Countries, and since then we have come a long way.
How do you and your company contribute to the global IT platform and society at large?
By providing online accounting with features like email invoicing and email statements, online backup etc. we believe, we are reducing the need for printing and therefore a reduction in wasted paper. We support a lot of charities financially through sponsorship and donations and in fact, we have developed a system to be used by charities for their Accounting requirements.
Marc O’Dwyer has credited his staff and his loyal customers for the entire success of the company and for its growing value in the market. The company’s agenda to fix accountancy problems for smooth running of businesses seems to take the right path as the first ever users of the products are still its customers. “I would like to see us as a Global supplier of Accounting and payroll software as a service to SME’s worldwide,” wraps up the ingenious CEO.
Meet the Leader
Marc O’Dwyer is the CEO of the company. After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc set up his own business selling accounting software which led to him becoming the largest channel partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) and acquiring Big Red Book developing it into the successful business or is today.
He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at Under 16 and under 20 levels, and has completed numerous Triathlons and five ironman competitions across Europe along with ten marathons.
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