Inside Business: Ned Lilly, CEO of xTuple | 2017 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award

Monday, June 12, 2017

Starting the company

“I originally started the company with a co-founder, who wrote the original version of the software from scratch. He was brilliant, but we disagreed on the importance of bringing code contributions from outside developers — which turned out to be central to our company strategy.”

Hardest part of launching the company

“The economic climate after the attacks of 9/11 was, of course, very challenging. Implementing complex business software like this requires a sense of confidence in the future, and a desire to grow. That has been in short supply many times over the past 15 years.”

A lesson learned

“Talk to your customers! The best features in our software come from engaging directly with customers to understand their needs. Conversely, we’ve had mixed results on the occasions when we try to guess what people might want in the future. There should be a constant dialogue with the people who are actually using your products and services.”

Risks taken

“Many.”

Biggest obstacle overcome

“Probably buying out my co-founder.”

What or who has helped you the most in establishing your business?

“I was fortunate to have the support of family and friends who provided us with capital to get started.”

Other business partners

“We partner with a number of technology businesses, and also sell through a channel of dozens of local/regional affiliates who represent us in particular markets. Those affiliates outside the U.S. also help with localization of the software, which has been downloaded over a million times in hundreds of countries, and translated into dozens of different languages.”

Greatest innovation

“A few years ago, we acquired a small local web development business. That team went on to develop the nucleus of a new product for us that blended the back-end ERP (enterprise resource planning) software with a customer-facing web portal. This level of real-time integration between the two systems is actually pretty rare — and we were among the first to market with a solution.”

Company growth

“Steady, with occasional bursts of awesome.”

Earning a profit

“Yes, consistently.”

Future plans

“We will continue to work to make this type of software easier and more usable for a larger number of companies. Having a free/open source version of the product is a key part of that, but so is simplifying the implementation of the software for the nontechnical business people who just want to get a system up and running quickly.”

Biggest challenge for the future

“Growing beyond the niche markets in which we currently excel, into a solution for the broader market.”

 

About the Award

The Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards honor individuals who exemplify the spirit of entrepreneurship by creating new businesses and services that are successful, sustainable and growing.

 

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