James Greig is CTO and Co-Founder of iVvy, a leading enterprise software as a service (SaaS) technology company, providing cloud-based solutions for event management, venue management and supplier management.
iVvy’s technology enables organizers to search, compare, book and pay for their event in real-time, providing live availability and pricing of function space, and group accommodation. iVvy is an interconnected hub for organizing events, from small meetings to large multi-day conferences.
With over 14,000 users in 13 countries, iVvy recently launched its US operation with the opening of a New York office, alongside expansion into the UK market, and appointment of sales support center in South Africa. iVvy partners internationally known brands such as Flight Center, Mantra, Dimmi by Tripadvisor, Fairfax, Woolworths and the Australian Defence Force.
In 2004, Greig founded Bloomtools, a leading Australian web developer. Bloomtools focuses extensively on research and development, with an in-house team of programming and graphic design experts. With an international client base, Bloomtools is recognized as a market leader in the web design industry.
Bloomtools has won a number of awards including the Gold Coast Business of the Year in the category of Knowledge Management and IT in 2012. Greig has twice been a finalist in Business News Australia’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Why was Bloomtools created?
James Greig: What we wanted to do with Bloomtools was look at the challenge for small businesses, where they need lots of tools for different areas of their businesses – from acquiring customers, managing them, getting them to stay and spend more, from a revenue perspective.
Traditionally, you have to use a multitude of different tools to help you achieve that. What we developed was a single log-in that gave you access to all the tools that you need as a small business, to manage a customer life cycle. So, a website with shopping carts, blogs, a database marketing tool to set up your emailing campaign, or holding events, sending out surveys, and then a CRM – for managing your sales and business workflows with triggers and automation. All of that within the one log-in.
How did iVvy come about?
James Greig: If you’ve ever organized an event before, this is quite tedious. It’s tedious because it’s all manual. You have to search and Google: what venues are there in Toronto? From there, you have to pick up the phone or email to each of them to say, “Hey, are you available on a particular date, and if I have my event at your place, what’s it going to cost me?” Then, you have to wait for them to respond to you. Then you have to go back and forth over email to agree on a price, and a menu, and all those sorts of things. That process can take days, if not weeks. What we’ve done with iVvy is created the first online booking tool for venues to allow you to see live availability, and make an instant booking. We’re the only company that does that in the world.
We’ve developed the software that venues need to run their business. It helps them produce their quotes, their contracts, and a function diary – all the bits and pieces.
What valuable lessons did you pick up by creating these businesses?
James Greig: I’ve found that it’s incredibly important to shift from being a technician, to being able to focus on something that’s a lot more important, which is people, and how you get them to play their part in the bigger role.
It’s important to empower people to do their jobs well. I think that’s probably why we’ve been able to attract great talent, and retain them. It definitely comes down to two-way communication, expressing your vision, and allowing people to make mistakes, and go from there.
The biggest part of that is getting the right people on the bus – the people that are going to be able to get you to where you want to get, as part of your vision.
People, by their nature, are hard to deal with. They have expectations of what they need. They need to be kept motivated, and need to have goals they are all aiming for.
Both companies had amazing growth. How did that happen?
James Greig: A lot came down to our model and our vision. In Bloomtools, we’d always had an expectation of going outside of Australia, and take our product to a much wider audience. Our model in that case, was a franchise model. We would get franchisees on board. Their job was to get the customers, and then we would support them. It’s why we are now successful in Canada. We work with some fantastic master franchises, and they – in turn – have some fantastic franchisees. It’s been our method to be able to scale.
Now, in the case of iVvy, the interesting thing is, we solve a problem that no one else solves. No one has been able to do it in the whole world. Everyone is looking for a solution to that challenge – how do we make the booking process, sales process, a non-expensive process? We are now appearing on the radar of all of these companies, because we are just sitting in a really unique spot.
If I were to give advice or suggest how we’ve been able to do it, I think it’s been through having a really unique proposition, and that unique proposition is what has taken us outside of Australia.
Then, making sure our customers have great experiences and talk about it.
Keeping them as our advocates is a really important part of our strategy. We make sure we support and love our customers, because we’d like them to love us back.