Cloud Coach is an enterprise Project Management and PPM solution on the Salesforce platform. It has an impressive 5,000 Salesforce orgs using its solution. Enterprise Times spoke with Peter Lee, Founder and CEO about the company recently. Cloud Coach started life in Australia as an idea during a visit to a pub.
Where was the company actually founded?
Lee answered: “In Australia, and then I moved back to the States because we didn’t want to run the business out of Australia. I just moved over (to the UK) recently to start building Europe. Although we already have quite a considerable client base in Europe. Most of the team is US/Canada distributed.”
Cloud Coach competes in the market with four tiers of its product Lee explained. Its Ultimate product competes with the likes of Oracle Primavera, Microsoft, SAP PPM and Service Now. At the Enterprise level, it competes with Kimble and FinancialForce and it also sees Mavenlink, NetSuite Open Air, Microsoft and Workfront. Its Professional product competes with companies like Krow, TaskRay, Mission Control and Inspire Planner. It also offers a free solution, Fundamentals. Lee believes that this compares with Trello and Asana.
This seems a huge target market for what is not a large company. Despite its size though it has an illustrious set of partners that includes Deloitte, Accenture, Infosys and NTT Data.
Do you target specific verticals?
“Apart from construction, which is a very clear vertical most of the other businesses are very similar. We haven’t done much in the vertical space at this point. We’re probably going to do some little changes from a marketing perspective. The reality is, the way you run a project is no different between a healthcare company and a technology company.”
In terms of language support, is it just English or do you support others?
“Mainly English, we have pretty big plans on that front. We’ve actually been going through doing all the translations recently. We plan to offer more languages.”
Is that to support existing multinational customers or to start international expansion?
“It’s actually to target the European market. We see a lot of the companies that don’t play that well in different languages. Our plan is to go after Europe strongly next year. It was going to be this year but with the virus, I’m pushing everything back six to 12 months.”
Where are you looking to target?
“Germany, Scandinavia and Benelux”
Cloud Coach was developed on the Force.com platform and integrated with Salesforce CRM. However, it can form part of a hybrid software architecture with integrations to other solutions such as ERP. Lee commented:
“We integrate with the finance tools that people are using. Quite often we get inbound actuals and project expenses in bigger deals from SAP and Oracle Financials. We also do things with Sage Intacct and a couple of newer financial ones as well.”
To date Cloud Coach has not taken any funding, it bootstrapped. However, international expansion is expensive. It is often the point where companies do seek funding to power their growth. ET asked Lee for his views on funding.
“We have not taken any funding to date. We are going to start looking for some this year.”
This may not be the best time to take funding as a recent article highlighted. We posited that it was an interesting year to take funding. Lee expanded adding:
“We’re not dependent on taking funding. The business model is still built without it. “
Funding will help to deliver its international expansion, especially when Cloud Coach looks to open more international offices. Lee confirmed that any funding would likely be spent mainly on sales and marketing.
Lee explained what differentiates Cloud Coach
“We built our framework on top of Salesforce. It took us a lot longer than we expect. We rolled it out last April. That allows us to do is interchange every single part. A project has processes which we class as: summary area, timelines, documents, controls and financials. That framework allows us to change out every single piece of that process for different types of users. We can provide a completely different user flow interaction for the marketing team to what we do for a PSA team against an IT operations team.
“Most organisations have 30 project management tools, it’s all because each department want to have a slightly different user experience. What we’ve been building is a framework so you can pick that user experience according to which department they are in.”
The solution also includes pre-built templates for those different departments. This means some companies can deploy the solution out the box in a few days according to Lee, though a couple of months is more common for an implementation.
Cloud Coach has between two and four major releases each. This year, it is planning to do four. What can customers expect in future releases?
“In every release, we always look to enhance usability. That’s our number one, continuous improvement. We’ve got plans to do a lot more enhancements around some reporting and analytics data this year using Salesforce Einstein.
Lee then continued, adding:
“Analytics, usability, and then the interchangeable UI for people. For example, one team could be running a waterfall project, and another team running an Agile project we just change the page depending upon what each one wants.”
ET asked Lee whether Cloud Coach has a partner ecosystem.
“We have partnership agreements with most of the big SI’s so Deloitte, NTT Data in Italy and Europe, Accenture and Infosys. Obviously, there are lots of little guys as well that have partner agreements with us.”
Cloud Coach also has a long-standing partnership with BMC, launched the BMC connector in 2018. How did that develop?
“We’ve been a BMC partner since 2012 and we have a lot of shared users. Every single BMC trial and download includes a free shipment of the Cloud Coach and a Cloud Coach connector. What we haven’t done is a good job of upselling people from using our free tier. We will solve that out as we work through it. And yes, we have a good relationship with BMC.”
On the future
What do you hope to achieve in 2020?
Lee answered: “To beat the virus. We had some pretty ambitious growth plans for this year. They are now less buoyant based on what is going on in the world. If it plays out like 2008-10 did with SaaS, we should be pretty insulated just because we deal with mainly larger companies. Most people buy us for strategic reasons to solve a problem. It’s a multi-year purchase. No one’s really buying our enterprise tier to try it out. They are buying it with a five-year investment in mind.
“Those things tend to get knocked less by these downturns than the people who are looking at something tactical. We are just looking to see how long this lasts. This thing can blow through in two months, perhaps it could knock us back six months. There’s too many unknowns at the moment.”
What are your challenges this year?
“As a self-funded business, cash flow is always a challenge. If I could grow this business from where we are now by 150% in the next year by just going out and hiring 20 Field Sales Reps but I can’t afford to do. Our challenge is cash flow to scale based on what the product can do”
Hence the search for funding this year to accelerate that growth.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
Cloud Coach is a small company that is delivering enterprise-level solutions but does not seem to have the recognition or market presence that its potential suggests. If it can leverage that BMC installation base over the next few months then it could become a significant presence in the PSA market. It is already in use by many organisations, the question is whether they want to invest further in the solution or just believe that it’s a free add on to BMC with no potential. The impression is mistaken.
That it also has relationships with several SI’s should help it gain that funding as well. Despite the impact of COVID-19, this could be a breakthrough year for Cloud Coach. Obtaining that funding during 2020 may be key to its success.