There is nothing more inspiring for a customer than buying something from a company that practices what it preaches. Liberate IT is a North Island-based start up from 2011, specialising in selling NetSuite ERP to small and medium sized business. A distinction of Liberate IT is the conscious decision the company made from the start to have no physical office.
When it looked at the associated expense and the reality of who would actually be there, the company realised its own technology had outgrown the need for an office. Liberate IT is a totally mobile cloud based company selling a totally mobile cloud based solution.
Steve Paea, 36 is the business development manager at Liberate IT. He comes from a business background having worked previously as export manager for Lighting Pacifica, and in a sales position for DHL Express.
“Liberate IT has been around since early 2011. I was the first employee that came on board," says Paea. "Then Paul Beatie came on board as a solutions engineer and was appointed general manager at the end of last year, and the rest of the team is made up of experienced NetSuite consultants."
Liberate IT was created by New Zealand ERP company Soltius, as a separate business to focus on the NetSuite cloud solution. Today, Liberate IT is one of only two New Zealand resellers — along with Fusion5 — to sell the vendor's wholesale distribution ERP product.
"It was important for us when Liberate IT was formed that we have implementation consultants who were familiar with the product, so we could hit the ground running," Paea says. "We initially had to source our consultants from overseas. But we are now fortunate enough to have experienced consultants and they deal with the implementation and the project management, the training and the support of the system as well.”
Paea says the challenge at the start was in promoting a system that small New Zealand businesses were not familiar with. The expertise it has built, he says, has allowed it to win business with more than 20 customers. “I was quite fortunate with my sales background and having used NetSuite in my previous role, I guess that helped," Paea says. "I can definitely understand the product from a user or customer pint of view.”
Paea is happy to be in the business and sees a bright future in selling cloud services to New Zealand SMBs. “All you need is an internet connection and you can operate a business," says Paea.
Which is exactly how Liberate IT works. As Paea explains, however, the company had considered a traditional, physical office at the start.
“We did look at the option of getting an office space," he says. "The thought was that the amount of money that we would be paying for an office space, about $35,000 or $40,000, was a lot considering how often was anyong going to be in the office."
Paea himself is usually out on the road often on client meetings, while Paul Beatie and the consultants work on site with customers, executing projects.
"So, we wondered why we’d be paying for something that nobody would be working in or using," Paea says. "The company operates in a virtual office, and the beauty of NetSuite is that is a cloud based system, so we all work in a virtual office space and we communicate with technology these days with video conferencing, making that process a lot easier. We either meet with video conferencing or we meet at a local cafe for lunch. I guess we sort of proved that the virtual office space can work. We do operate in a cloud environment.”
Paea says it’s almost a dream scenario where they’re selling virtual space from a virtual office and promoting their own product in a very practical way. “We engaged with our customers to get their feedback and we thought we might get some negative feedback but the majority of our customers said, yep that makes sense."