Quick background if you don't know: Xero offers on-line accounting with strong emphasis on user interface, design and functionality. The company tries to make the customer experience part of the brand and internal culture, investing in a big design team, which was one of the first things in their project.
The company launched an IPO in the NZX a couple of months ago, raising about $15 million, to help push their products in the market. Initially aimed at New Zealand businesses, Xero is also working to enter the international market.
The interesting thing about Xero is how the company is reaching for "influencers" in this market, most of the times those we know as "advisors". Right now Xero is focussed on getting accountants and consultants on board to ensure they have met the requirements of the advisors and create industry capability before trying to sell the idea directly to personal and SME businesses.
I was told there isn't really a direct competitor for their on-line product, sitting in a different category, in a market dominated by players delivering applications to the desktop.
This is also one of the differentiators for the company in terms of infrastructure. Xero adopted a quick cycle of "release early, release often" with a release almost every week, with differences and features users can notice. Because the product is completely web based, cost with support are extremely reduced because support personell need only to know about the current version, plus there are no need for complicated migration procedures from previous versions, supporting many upgrade paths, etc.
Xero based its product on Microsoft technologies, because of proven track - and support for developers. Microsoft SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 are part of the tools used. Craig tells me they did look at alternative open source tools and technologies, including Ruby on Rails, but the support for developers needs in terms of IDE for example weren't up to the same quality of Visual Studio - yet.
The company has already reached Microsoft Gold Partner status, just a few months after the official product launch.
Video: Tech Fest Tech Ed New Zealand 2007
As I blogged before, the party was based on Las Vegas, with lots of "gambling" going on, candy lane dancers walking around, and lots of drinks.
Evermore performed the main act and the crowd was crazy - even more those two guys who needed to be removed from the stage...
As usual look for the pictures in my TechEdNZ07 Flickr Set, or look for the TechEDNZ07 tag.
Day one has lots of links, and you can see me talking to Darryl Burling about the Keynote, Windows Mobile and Virtualisation sessions, and a second video of us talking about the Tech Ed Marketplace and User Communities.