Email platform “heaven” for marketers – Peter Bergantino, imera

Digital marketers rejoice! Someone has finally acknowledged the need for a solution that sits between your email marketing platform and your invoices to clients, and they’ve made it beautiful. Your hero is Peter Bergantino, and the solution is imera App.  (Pronounced ee-my-rah)

“imera was started initially as an internal web app to solve an internal problem around quickly and accurately billing for email campaigns and related activity,” said Bergantino, imera founder.

“What we noticed was how frustrating and time consuming each week it was to work it all out and then invoice. So, we built an internal prototype and almost instantly we were relieved of headaches around who, what, how much, and with a click of a button out came an invoice in Xero.”

“We also discovered online invoicing to be cumbersome and just not that automated, so we quickly became familiar with understanding the strengths and weaknesses of various API.”

The simplicity, the minimalist approach of the software is its strength. Tech start-ups often tend to broaden their product offering by including many features that are “cool” but unnecessary, resulting in a lack of focus in the core product.

Peter and the team have kept the software’s roots as Kiwi as possible, choosing to test their theories around fast, near-automated invoicing with Xero, the prominent Wellington-based accounting software start-up that has catapulted Rod Drury to near-celebrity status among the New Zealand tech crowd. “Once we were able to tie the pieces together we could see more simplified workflows and faster, more accurate invoice outputs and this was just testing against email marketing (Campaign Monitor) and cloud accounting (Xero).”

When Drury made a guest appearance on the NZ Business Podcast, hosted by Paul Spain, he said, and I paraphrase, that the downfall of many great services, Twitter included, is their lack of effort when it comes to listening to the people who will be using their service. The imera team has been exemplary in this. They’ve built a great product by trialing imera with volunteer beta testers and using that feedback to strengthen the app.

For example, users expressed the need for a service that calculates in thousandths of a dollar. When running a marketing campaign with a list of 50,000 addresses, $0.002 per address means $100, but Xero doesn’t calculate in thousandths of dollars, rendering the idea of three decimal places seemingly impossible. Instead of accepting this as an unsolvable inconvenience, the imera team figured out how to get the two services to sync, and still “put their two cents worth in.” It is this attitude of approach that is differentiating Imera.

The next step for imera is to grow its user base. Although the latest and greatest have found traction coming out of Silicon Valley and New York City, Peter doesn’t think that New Zealanders, as individuals, are any different than the rest of the western world when it comes to adopting new technology.

“The internet is now almost ubiquitous here in NZ, and the likes of online news, online banking through to ‘TradeMe’ are so common it’s becoming second nature. Dial-up is long forgotten and it’s all about broadband, and now extending to onDemand – video is the current big mover being pitched at the consumer. Practically everyone knows who and what the giants of the industry offer, and probably use their technology on a daily basis, and often without even knowing it e.g., YouTube being owned by Google.”

“In the B2B space, yes, we do think businesses are more conservative in nature than consumers, and that’s because they have a lot more to lose by trialing something, as its normally not free!”

“An established business will normally have business processes mapped, or [if not,] definitely mentally. Often these workflows have a combination of software, and an element of manual handling. Every time a business makes a purchase decision which effects their business, they will have invested financially, operationally, and often emotionally in an effort to improve their position and their chances of increased productivity and profit.”

That lack of ability to be flexible and adopt the new methods can cost a company their competitive edge, but on the other side of the equation, jumping on the latest trend is risky, and can result in large amounts of money being lost.

A trend that is here to stay though, according to Todd Nielsen of Wired Magazine, is cloud computing. Everything is becoming wireless. The early adopters who make use of this relatively new technology creatively are the ones who will be industry leaders in the upcoming years.

“The days of businesses operating almost exclusively in the cloud are not too far away, but not here for the bulk just quite yet. The likes of local cloud giants like Xero, and the next wave like Vend and others are pushing the SaaS envelope and carving out new frontiers. These are businesses with all the right ingredients: innovative business models, solid and growing customer traction (product-market fit), prudent investment, and a fun smart workplace & culture.”

These are the business putting New Zealand on the map in terms of technology.

If you have not read about imera’s latest funding round that’s because they are bootstrapped. Start-ups that do funding rounds raise millions, get a lot of people on board, and receive a lot of media attention. They can try many different things since they have more paper power behind them, but eventually they must repay those dollars.

Then there is bootstrapping. You use most of your life’ savings, reinvest what you make, and hope that you haven’t washed your retirement down the drain. The upside is that all the profits you make, are yours.

“Bootstrapped does not mean going to [your] aunty, uncle, cousins, or the bank for handouts. In our case it means we invest money from our hard earned income via other business revenue.”

And imera is certainly not second-guessing their decision.

“The pros are you have complete financial control and you do need discipline whether it’s your money or others. In our case, right now it is our money – prudent decisions need to be made and literally every cent invested has come from hard effort somewhere else. A single-minded sharp focus is required as we search for the right product-market fit.

“There are no cons with this approach at this stage. We need to get things right in order to get to the next level and those are product-market fit, and a great team. Customers come in bunches if your product meets their needs, so much so that they will pay you to solve their problem or remove their pain.”

The future holds a lot in store for imera, and they’re counting on people like you to sign up for free and give them the feedback that they transform into an industry-leading product.

“We are currently focusing on building visibility [and] an audience through solid and relevant content, and pushing it out through social media. [We are also] in communication with our partner channels – so [that means] regular comms and being present on their websites.”

“We have not implemented paid advertising yet as we are in our infancy still in early Beta and we need it to be targeted. We feel getting to influencers and blog writers will help build awareness right now. Then, over the next few months as we tighten product focus, we can enhance our public website and look to introduce new promotional approaches, more in the form of paid.”

In the end, developing a world-class product comes down to having a great team.

“As a nation, we can even see and feel this Kiwi champion taking on the global giants reflected in our America’s Cup team – get serious, get prepared and get in the race early, build the right product (the boat matches the conditions), invest in and build a great team, establish a fantastic culture with strong leadership. Build stories and maybe with a tad of luck, hold-on tight because look what can happen – game changer!”


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