Livingstone reveals the Eureka effect

Any organisation depends on the loyalty of its people, but rarely does loyalty exert its influence more strongly than in the teamwork shown by Glasgow-based Eureka Solutions.

If there is one thing that unites the people of Eureka Solutions it is rallying together in support of Managing Director Gillian Livingstone. Hence her gratitude to a team that displays loyalty, faith and encouragement in spadefuls. "The unstinting support I have received from everyone in the company has reinforced my belief in myself and given me the confidence I need to rise to this great responsibility," she stated. "I do not have an extensive track record of top management, so the belief of others in the organisation that I could handle it was a huge boost."

Eureka Solutions was founded in 1996 by Gillian's father Alistair, who was a maths teacher, and after his daughter was made redundant while working for an accountancy firm he brought her into the business in December 2009. "I worked the telephones, learned sales and worked hard to get up to speed on the technical side," she commented. "I've been in my current role since October 2015 and my accountancy background means I can add value to my team and bring a measure of fiscal sense which helps the business."

Eureka Solutions began its commercial life at a time when technology was changing from DoS to Windows, and Alistair saw an opportunity to break into the market with Sage 200 as a valuable business solution. Eureka then associated itself with NetSuite, a move Gillian describes as a ‘gamble'. "NetSuite is a multi-national firm now and has just been taken over by Oracle. Back then it wasn't well known, but it was clear that many clients were beginning to look for cloud-based solutions which Sage at that time did not offer," she said.

"NetSuite was looking for partners and the reputation we had earned as an established partner with Sage was what attracted the vendor to us. It wasn't an easy process. Getting to know NetSuite inside out was a steep learning curve. But we were acutely aware that we had to know it thoroughly before we could sell with integrity. The collaboration brought us into contact with bigger, more complex organisations and taught us how to deal with them."

Eureka Solutions currently has 50 staff and room for many more in its new premises which has been in occupation since June last year, a move that will ensure the company has the space to meet anticipated growth. Eureka has increased turnover this financial year and Gillian expects to continue double digit growth over the long term, aiming for £3 million this year. "Our support team is currently dealing with 1,900 live contracts, we have Sage 200 in 150 sites and NetSuite in 50," she stated. "I anticipate NetSuite sales to overtake Sage 200 and, as a consequence, the client demographic will change to include a far greater proportion of much larger and more international organisations. We also have high expectations for a new Sage Product, Sage Live, and our own new cloud offering called Cloud Data Exchange."

Eureka Solutions plans to launch Cloud Data Exchange this year in what Gillian says is a ‘significant departure' for the company in terms of its business model. "It has also been a major investment as it was developed in-house," she said. "The solution will work with any software system and beta-testing results are encouraging. We have even brought in an in-house tester to make sure that Cloud Data Exchange hits the ground running."
Organisations that are expanding require products and systems that will grow and develop alongside their trajectory. This is where the cloud, with its infinite scalability, really offers fit for purpose solutions, believes Gillian. "We deal with companies that operate worldwide, have geographically disparate subsidiaries and are forward thinking and ambitious," she added. "Cloud systems provide them with flexibility, reliability, performance, security and containable costs. Because of the trust we have established with Sage 200, we can introduce NetSuite as a natural progression.

"We have invested heavily in Cloud Data Exchange but expect to recoup that money within three to four years. After that it will be a clean and strong revenue stream. We do not intend to be box shifters. Instead, we are developing a subscription service that will smooth out revenue flow. We already have several clients waiting for launch and have engaged a graphic designer to create distinctive branding and a unique website. The launch will be backed by the full expertise of the marketing department."

Eureka Solutions' growth strategy will in large part be led by Andrew Gray, Marketing Director. He has 25 years of experience in communications, business development and operations, and his team of nine staff is a strong indicator of the scale of Eureka's ambition. "Within the foreseeable future Andrew's team will be proportionate to the growth we expect to experience," said Gillian. "We intend to associate ourselves with growing companies, futuristic enterprises with vision and ambition. To this end, we are dealing closely with key influencers such as software vendors and consultancies. We are also, not surprisingly given my background, targeting the accountancy sector."

Although Eureka's HQ is in Scotland 70 per cent of its business is done in England, a factor that will probably lead to a new office opening in the south, most likely London. The extension of the company's national presence shows that it has come a long way since it was founded by Alistair, who in his daughter's words was ‘hugely respected as a dynamic and visionary Managing Director'.

"Accepting his offer of a role in the company was a risky move," she added. "It was a complete and dramatic career change and I had no assurance that it would work out as well as it has. We now have more of a team-based approach with myself, Aileen Primrose as Sales Director and David Lindores as Technical Director forming the new core. My father provides an objective and crucial overview of the market and emerging trends. I have good organisational capabilities, put things in place and get things done.

"The main lesson I have learnt is that when you are working in a family business you cannot take the work home with you. The temptation is always there to talk about the company, but it has to be resisted. I also learned when I first started with Eureka Solutions not to call the then Managing Director ‘dad'.