“Too risky not to”: After 20 years of bootstrapping, Phocas Software secures massive $45 million in VC funding

Phocas Software co-founder Myles Glashier

Phocas Software co-founder and chief Myles Glashier. Source: supplied.

It’s been around for 20 years, bootstrapped, profitable and growing, with revenues topping $40 million annually. But data analytics SaaS company Phocas Software is now gearing up for a late-stage growth spurt, with $45 million in fresh funding.

The round was led by Ellerston Capital, which invested $35 million. Existing investor OneVentures contributed the remaining $10 million.

Founded back in 2001 by chief executive Myles Glashier and chair Paul Magee, Sydney-based Phocas provides cloud-based business analytics tools designed to give anyone in a company better visibility of their data, without having to rely on IT departments or data analysts.

It collates data from various systems into a simple interface, allowing for quicker and easier decision-making.

Initially launched in the UK, where Aussie Glashier was taking a gap year, the product was designed for salespeople, and sold on a subscription basis.

“It sold like hotcakes,” he tells SmartCompany.

The business grew to offer analytics tailored to more people within a company, and soon had enough cash in the bank to take the product to Australia, and then the US.

This is a space that has changed over the past 20 years.

Now, there’s an ever-increasing demand for simplicity, and that’s something Phocas has been at the forefront of.

The business has also navigated a shift in demand to mobile, a move from servers to cloud platforms, and the introduction of AI technology.

But, while it’s been a big two decades in tech, the fundamentals of what Phocas does have remained the same — the biggest business impact for its customers is simplicity and ease of use.

“No matter what technology underpins it, I think that’s the key for our markets.”

“Too risky not to do it”

Having bootstrapped its way up over the past 20 years, Phocas has had to be profitable, and it’s had to grow, Glashier explains.

Over the past five years or so, it has seen revenue growth of 20% to 30%, year-on-year, he says.

In the last financial year, revenues topped $40 million, and he hopes to hit $50 this year.

However, Glashier says it felt like the perfect time to bite the bullet and bring in VC investment for the first time.

There’s money in the market, more and more competitors emerging, and a receptive customer base for the taking, Glashier explains.

“It almost seemed too risky not to do it,” he says.

“We’ve proven that we can grow really nicely … imagine what we could do with a bit more fuel in the rocket?”

Once a startup, always a startup

The funding will allow Phocas to invest in its core product, and work on the development of new ones. It will also allow for investment in the sales and marketing teams, expanding its presence in the UK and the US.

But, when asked what the big-vision, pipe-dream goal is for Phocas, Glashier doesn’t talk about unicorn status or global domination.

He wants to see the business grow into something that is sustainable in the long term, and that remains true to its values: fun, fulfilling, forever.

This chief executive wants his staff members to enjoy coming to work on a Monday, to work in a business that is doing well, and where they feel motivated.

Achieving that means continuing to grow and continuing to generate profit — but doing so in a way that secures the future of the company too.

Phocas has taken a slow-and-steady approach thus far, something quite different from the rhetoric we often hear in the startup sector. But, Glashier maintains this is “a 20-year-old startup”.

“We’re consistently beating big major competitors,” he explains.

“To do that we’re having to continually re-invent ourselves.”

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