Creating an award winning app

Hatch Apps

FD Works provided the expert accounting knowledge and financial expertise to really make Xavier the award-winning app it is today. Helen Lloyd, CoFounder of Xavier

Xavier Analytics

What became known as Xavier analytics actually started out with a need for a better forecasting tool. Jon and the team at FD Works had built forecasting models in the past, but their trusty spreadsheets weren’t scalable. Clients wanted more.

FD Works approached the team at Hatch Apps who they knew were expert web developers. Hatch Apps were a client of FD Works at the time and were ready to take their next big step – creating their own product. The two teams sat down and sketched out the challenge faced both by accountants and SME when it came to providing accurate forecasting. 

Together, we created Xavier Analytics. which went on to become a runaway success, picking up numerous awards including Xero ‘Emerging App of the year’, going international with clients right around the globe and subsequently being acquired by Receipt Bank as a key part of their Dext proposition.

But the path to success wasn’t a straightforward one (it rarely is).

Back to the beginning - predicting the future

The key challenge to overcome was that the data coming from Xero wasn’t reliable enough to be able to build on for the future. There were too many inconsistencies, like duplicate contacts where names were spelt or capitalised in different ways, that meant forecasting was impossible. Rather than throw in the towel or hold onto their original idea too tightly, they decided to do something about the core problem they were faced with. 

As an expert in finance, Jon explained the data to the Hatch Apps team, who asked the right questions to take singular solutions and turn them into constructs that could be applied across an infinite number of clients.

Speaking each other's language

As Xavier co-founders, the experience Jonathan Gaunt and Simon Williams brought to the team was instrumental on our journey as a startup from MVP to acquisition in 2020. Helen Lloyd, CoFounder of Xavier

Jon attributes much of the success of Xavier to this way of working. They took complex ideas and applied expertise in the right places to simplify them. This only worked because both teams had the ability to speak another expert’s language and understand both sides of the product – tech and finance.  

However, the project didn’t happen in a bubble. The team sought out advice from their network and the wider accounting community. The final product was forged with the guidance of seasoned accounting industry experts and supported by an engaged collection of progressive accounting firms. They also received amazing support from Xero, and worked really hard to get it in front of the right people from the very start. During the development phase, the team spent a lot of time understanding the frustrations people in the industry had and used their problem solving skills to address these pain points in the final product. 

You’ve got to spend money to make money

While Xavier received some funding through Innovate, it wasn’t the most well funded project – everyone had to make sacrifices to get to where they are now. The sacrifices really seemed to start paying off when they saw the response to Xavier at Xerocon in 2019. At points, the stand was 3 people deep trying to get a better look at what it was all about. 

From there, Xavier was on the map. By the end of 2019 Xavier was doubling the size of it’s client base every 3 months and the team won the Xero ‘Emerging App of the Year’ award in 2020.

Listen, adapt, grow, and repeat

They had seen and understood the complex struggles startups and small businesses faced, and helped us make big financial and growth decisions with confidence. Helen Lloyd, CoFounder of Xavier

2020 hit us all by surprise, but Jon and the Xavier team reacted quickly. They reduced their prices by 50%, which allowed them to keep loyal clients and continue to have an impact on the industry. This was a calculated commercial risk. The team believed in the value of the technology for their happy clients but they also knew that in times of crisis, practices would be tightening their belts. To avoid getting the cut, the temporary price drop prevented client churn at a time when the business was just taking off. 

At the end of the three month period, as the world adjusted to the new ways of working, prices went back to their pre discounted rate. Very few (if any at all) clients left when the price went back up. They saw a greater return in keeping Xavier as a tool in their arsenal when working with their SME clients.

Joining the big leagues

As 2020 unfolded, the plan had been to look for additional funding. However, a (welcomed) surprise came in the form of a serious approach from Receipt Bank who wanted to acquire Xavier and saw it as having a good new home within their offering.

Having a major player like Receipt Bank was a win-win. Not only could the team focus on their core product but they could now do so with the support of a major international brand who could also fast track Xavier in front of their existing global client base. 

Receipt Bank acquired them and became. Dext: Prepare (their core product) and Precision (the rebranding of Xavier). The team grew from seven to over thirty, and Xavier launched in New Zealand and Australia at the end of 2020. The original team is still actively involved and continuously developing and improving Dext Precision, and have plenty more up their sleeves. Watch this space!

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