Listen to your customers – they’ll tell you what the future looks like

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2019 feels like a significant year in CloudTrade’s development and, as we push through the first quarter, I want to provide you with a bit of an update about how we’re getting on. It’s good to have you with us.

For me and the team, 2019 seems transformational, a year when we shift gears and begin a new, exciting stage of development. Allowing myself a moment of reflection, it makes me proud to think how far we’ve come. In truth, we’re just getting started. There’s so much more we can achieve.

I’ve learned that, in business, in order to stay on track, it’s important to occasionally take a little time to remind ourselves who we are, where we came from and where we want to go. To be honest, these things haven’t really changed since Richard, Richard and I founded CloudTrade. And that’s a reassuring thought.

When I think about where we want to go as a business, I’m always guided by one thing: our customers. In an age of buzzwords, cliches and enough business books to fill the Bodleian, business owners and companies can lose sight of their goals. They become fixated on building something that isn’t in demand, or, is in demand, but is something that they cannot execute. This is an error we’ve been determined not to make.

As part of CloudTrade’s management team, a key part of my job is finding out what our customers want. We then work out how to build an innovative product that delivers it to them. That has been the way I’ve always looked at business. The trick is to listen to your customers – they’ll tell you what the future looks like.

In a nutshell, that’s the story of CloudTrade, which we created in 2010 with the aim of disrupting the document capture marketplace. Richard, Richard and I had a lot of experience in the e-invoice and purchase-to-pay market, and we knew that the market was tired and inflexible and we spotted an opportunity to provide a disruptive solution that was driven by genuine demand. To use a tired cliche, we scratched our own itch.

Our sole intention was to fully automate the handling of documents, making this channel of communication an electronic process. 3 themes were going to help us achieve that goal:

  1. The e-document product we created was truly different, disruptive and unique, allowing us to own our own IP. This meant we delivered a product to our customers that they couldn’t find elsewhere.
  2. Having worked in technology for many years, we saw that the market in 2010 was switching to SaaS products. We hoped to take advantage of this shift.
  3. We were veterans of the industry, so we immediately signed two customers who used and tested our product. Parseq and EGS showed faith in us. They are still clients today.

9 years on, CloudTrade now processes documents for over 300 organisations and the volume we are processing has grown to a current annual run rate of 12 million. Revenue has increased over 40% year on year and we hope to report a similar increase in March. To reach this point, it’s been hard work but we were only able to do it because we never stopped listening to our customers.

That thought has guided our past and it is going to guide our future too. It will tell us what to do, and what not to do too. Significantly, in July last year, we closed our first funding round. The investment from Calculus Capital will be solely used so that we can do more of the same. It’s growth capital and it gives us a great opportunity to double down on what we’re good at.

As I mentioned a little earlier, in some ways, it feels as if we’re just getting started. In addition to all of our usual business activities, we also want to actively engage with our customers on a more regular basis, so you’ll be hearing a little more from me and the team as we launch a weekly blog, a monthly newsletter and increased activity on social media.

As I hope you can tell, all of us at CloudTrade are really excited about getting stuck into the next stage of our development. Our content strategy is an important part of that, allowing us to talk to you, our customers, on a more regular basis. We want these conversations to be two-way, so we’d love to hear what you think about what we’re doing as a business.

Listening to our customers has been the reason why we’ve been able to build the business we have. It’s the magic rule that all business owners should follow. Listen to your customers. And then build an innovative product that gives them what they want. It’s simple, really.

Thanks for your continued support from all the team at CloudTrade. I hope to hear from you a little further up the road in 2019.