How a Brainiac Calculated His Way to Groundbreaking Success
Compelled by the spell of computing, Rod Drury explored a plethora of options throughout his youth. He had just one, simple goal in mind: to become the ultimate master of accounting.
But, before he saw the light at the end of the tunnel, Rod had to pass the thorns and put in the work. Before he even turned thirty, Rod had already birthed three different start-ups, and honestly, he had just about enough of it.
What Rod now needed was a different goal, a larger-than-life ambition, a one that grew past his lust for riches. Given that he wanted to do something different from its competitors, he went anything but big. In fact, since Rod, small business never looked the same again!
Through differentiating his software from the rest, Rod facilitated the world of accounting and scaled his business like there’s no tomorrow.
How did it all come to be?
Click here to find out:
Born and bred in Wellington, New Zealand, Rod Drury knows well of modesty and dignity. His father worked as a tradesman, while his mother was an executive assistant. Thanks to his diligent parents, Rod dedicated himself to his studies from very early on in life.
Grasping the first chance he met, Rod went to Napier Boys' High School, where, well, computing met him. Able to play with computers as his heart desired, he took to programming long before his University days came.
When they came, indeed, Rod enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington, to study commerce and administration. Here, he discovered informational engineering and drew diagrams to depict the then-flow of information as well as the ways of business at the time.
This swiftly prepared him for Arthur Young, where he worked as an apprentice, ultimately educating himself all-things accounting.
Having finished his compulsory year of audit, Rod now joined an IT consulting group, a superb software development team was in the works. And because there never is an ‘i’ in ‘team’, Rod got a taste of his first-ever fortune, too!
Wealth Suit for Beginners
Rod first made the news in 1995, with a helping hand from Glazier Systems, a software development firm which developed some of Microsoft’s initial systems.
Glazier expanded swiftly by 1999 when Advantage Group obtained it for approximately $7.5 million, in both shares and cash. The company is ongoing even today, only now it goes by the name of Intergen.
Did Rod stop right here, in his very cosy middle?
Not a chance. Soon after selling Glazier, Rod founded another management solution company, called Aftermail. Come 2003, Aftermail had a humble $2 million in revenue. But, trust Rod to ultimately sell it for a whopping $15 million, which he did.
And you wonder why his businesses bloom like cherries in spring.
Rumor has it that Rod invented Aftermail mostly for the cash, but even so, what he found challenging about the business were the challenges in using desktop accounting software. However, soon after he made his fortune, Rod dropped his cash-saturated dreams and decided to instead try fulfillment.
Lo and behold, this birthed his fourth idea in a row - Xero.
Rationalizing the Concept
You might not remember this, but the 00s were a time when all main software development revolved around large businesses. Naturally, this benched smaller businesses, and what’s worse, no one blinked an eye.
While his rivals aimed to occupy more enterprise space, Rod kept pushing small businesses forward. Eliminating his competition was just the beginning.
He very well knew that for small businesses to work - any small businesses - accounting software was the first step. However, if Rod was to take the throne, there were a few other things he had to consider.
As he obtained better understanding of the cloud's practicality, Rod realized that desktop based software would become archaic in the future. So, he overlooked the faults of desktop software again and saw that most of them operated quite similarly.
Due to both dullness and management difficulties, a new solution was to show face on the horizon. ‘Make it easy to manage,’ Rod thought, ‘make it fun!’
And everyone knows that nothing is more fun than playing games.
In collaboration with his team, Rod realized the first thing all employees did in the morning was to check overnight transactions to help manage the cash inflow and outflow. But, Rod also looked at kids' games and so, he brought the best of both worlds in one place. This way, checking bank transactions would feel fun and dynamic instead of monotonous and software-ish.
It was a whole new way to connect to banks that businesses worked with, and Rod knew it. He now made it possible for employees to find all information needed laid out on their desk and firsthing in the morning.
Just like that, all transactions could be accessed with the touch of the finger.
The earnings Rod made from all previous enterprises was not as relevant as he had hoped. For whatever reason, Rod felt like his role in this world was to make it better, not earn from it.
Thought after pouring thought, Rod finally got an epiphany - to create a variety of jobs within the small business sector. Next thing you know, Rod and the team added an accountant channel to help educate small businesses on growing and being more innovative.
So, finally, the software was ready to launch.
Although starting a business in a tiny country has its advantages, it requires a lot of work, both locally and nationally.
Naturally, Rod felt a great deal of pressure when working those endless flights, all in effort to sustain the relationships he built with the team.
Being spread globally also meant that it would be easier for the team to find the most talented people worldwide and expand quicker.
With hard work and utter determination, Xero finally made its entrance on the UK and Australian markets in 2007. The following year, Xero solidified its hold on the NZ market and entered the US market too, which initially hurt the business, as great staff turned out to be a difficult task.
Once the ball finally rolled in their court, a new name for all employees ensued, and a unifying one, too. A collective effort of this magnitude largely helped Xero gain trust among clients globally, and the investments just kept coming.
In 2006, Xero had more than 100 customers, but their revenue was faltering. This is one of the reasons why Xero's software first made the news. Once it did, and as soon as investors did their research, the brand skyrocketed financially, ultimately witnessing a revenue of staggering $15 million.
In the same year, the company added $12 more million to the account, and by October 2013, various business angels had invested anywhere from $10 to $20 million.
That was, until Matrix Capital Management funded Xero with over $150 million, a monumental amount for the business. From here on, people trusted Xero even deeper and this launched the company into imminent success.
Today, Xero has raised more than $600 million in funding.
Even more, this cloud-based, small business accounting software now offers a wide variety of functions, such as bank reconciliation, inventory, invoicing, bookkeeping, expenses and then some.
Significantly, Xero has over 20 offices at its headquarters, all nested in Wellington, New Zealand.
Rod’s global success led him to also open offices in Australia, the United Kingdom, the US, South Africa, Canada and Singapore, counting over 300 employees in total.
In 2020, Xero marked a revenue of $718.2 million, thus ranking as the third most-valuable company in New Zealand - not bad for a guy who just wanted to be good at accounting!