Thirty years ago the market landscape for ERPs looked much different than it does today. How is your industry changing?
Listen to Kevin describe how he grew Epicor in the 80’s and 90’s and how he identified and addressed market changes.
Sunil: Ok Great. So, and then you were at Epicor /Platinum a total of how long?
Kevin: Almost 20 years. Though the years i did many different functions. I was trained while i was an engineer, he was also trained in sales early in my career. So sometimes I would run the dev. group. Sometimes I would be out with the distributors and building and teaching them on how to sell the product. I helped build the very first the very first direct sales force. As we were moving up, we always continued to sell the product to the SMB but with the new client server product we were moving up market a bit and competing against the Peoplesoft, Oracle financials, and through that we sold through a direct sales forces, and i build that sales force and ran that for a while. And as we did the big international expansion, my last 5 years, i completely ran all the operations outside N. America. And so i wanted to help see the company thought he year 2000.
Kevin: Which was a non-event of ours, as most people know by now. And it was after that i chose that i’ve grown a large company and i really like small companies and i wanted to go back to small companies. So i left in the early part of 2000
Sunil: Ok i’m going to come back to that in a second. So maybe you could talk about what the market looked like and how did you think about the market like the entry level, mid market, and all these terms get thrown around. What did the market look like from your perspective of a supplier of solutions
Kevin: Well i guess through the 80 and maybe even early 90s we felt there just were not good products for the smbs. There was the large products and there were the oracle financials and SAPs and mainframe kinds of products. But that is where many software companies in the ERP companies would start. Because they were selling at high price points. and did a lot of consulting and implementation. And so these sophisticated products didn’t really exist for SMBs. That was really how we targeted and attacked markets to begin with. Even with the SMBs products the customer still wanted a lot of hand holding. So many cases they maybe didn’t’ understand accounting as well as they do today, but they also didn’t understand themselves – if they had another system how they would convert data into the system. there was always a component or a big piece of even then of implementation or professional services. Now, with the Var channel that’s what they did and that’s how they made a lot of their living besides making a commission on the resale of the license, they also did a lot of handholding and implementation work. I think we’ll talk about this, but there is quite a bit of change in today’s world where people are a lot more sophisticated and want to do some of that work themselves
Sunil: Ok and so by the sound of it, where you were focused was really on meeting the needs of customers who really had sophisticated needs rather than someone just starting out. There was a different set of solutions they could potentially buy at the entry level.
Kevin: That’s right. the entry level. of course you had spreadsheets and of course quickbooks came out quite early.
Sunil: Sage 50 which was peach tree then
Kevin: That’s right so there was a lot of products for the very small company that and unsophisticated needs at that point in time. Just pure book keeping types of systems