Interview with Xero Founder


How did you meet co-founder Hamish Edwards and what made you create Xero?

Hamish was my accountant. Working with him I could see the disconnected process of sending files around was broken and desktop software looked 15 years old. Together we decided we could make life much easier and fun for small business owners.

How long did it take to put together the initial version?

As we had capital we were able to do pure R&D for the first 4 months, building the foundations for a scalable global financial platform. After we had the foundations right we started building the accounting features. First customers came on a month later.

6 years on we’re still building but have 135,000 customers and 200,000 users.

You’re based in New Zealand and considering Xero was only founded in 2006, how have you managed to expand into over 100 countries so quickly? Did you expect the growth you’ve received?

Yes, we thought that if we did it right we’d be targeting millions of customers. We did a New Zealand version, then UK, then Australia, then global (with configurable tax) then USA. It’s all the same code base so we can be nimble.

We also focussed on Xero as a platform with an open API and have over 200 applications already that connect to our engine.

Being gracious with partners has seen a thriving ecosystem develop and that is helping build network effects.