From Xero to hero: Why the startup giant is giving back to the local ecosystem

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New Xero managing director Trent Innes.

Contributing to the local startup ecosystem is at the heart of Xero’s operations because it too started with nothing, the accounting software giant’s new managing director Trent Innes says.

The fact that Xero hasn’t lost its startup spirit has helped it stay ahead of the game, Innes says.

“We are a very innovative company,” Innes tells StartupSmart.

Paying it forward

It’s important for the big startup players to give back the community and help nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs, he says.

Innes says their program Xero for Startups aims to mentor, connect and share advice with aspiring entrepreneurs and new startups on the scene.

“We’re pushing out content to help startups to understand the industry and the opportunities,” he says.

Xero is also running a monthly breakfast series alternating between Sydney and Melbourne sharing expert advice from Xero’s own team and their networks.

With last month’s Melbourne event selling out, Innes is excited to see more new faces at the Sydney session next Wednesday.

“We’ve got a lot of fantastic skills and knowledge, why wouldn’t you impart that and help,” he says.

Product iteration

Innes is currently travelling Australia with the Xero Roadshow to meet with customers and showcase new products.

“The industry’s going through quite a generational shift at the moment and we have a big responsibility to help them with that,” he says.

In the last year alone, Innes says Xero released more than 800 product features and updates.

“And we’re growing really strongly,” he says.

They now have more than 600,000 customers in over 180 countries with less than 15% market share, he says.

“We’ve proven that you can build a global company from this part of the world,” Innes says.

Achieving this required continually taking on board feedback from customers and partners to meet their needs and balancing that with product innovation, Innes says.

“I think we do that balance probably better than anyone,” he says.

Innes says it’s important for startups to focus on building products with the user in the front of mind.

“Xero’s been a design first company from day one,” he says.

“We’ve taken what could effectively be a very complex problem and made it beautiful to the fact that people now love doing accounting.”

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.
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