IN this week’s SME Focus, the experience of a fast-growing cloud computing expert shows firms have to be ready to cope with the fallout from mergers and acquisitions activity that may impact on key clients.


Paul Tindal.



What is your business called?

Cofficient Ltd. It’s an amalgamation of the words “company” and “efficient”.

Where is it based?


Wha services does it offer?

We sell and implement cloud based software. Cloud computing involves using remote servers to host your information, processes and data. Most people use cloud computing for things like internet banking and personal email and storing photos on software like Facebook.

We work with software giants SAP and NetSuite on their cloud based software products – SAP Business ByDesign and NetSuite ERP.

To whom does it sell?

We have multi sector experience with clients in the UK and overseas in markets such as finance, fast moving consumer goods, the third sector, services, software, construction and engineering. This year we picked up a host of new clients including Simon Community Scotland who provide care for the homeless, IT provider Aspen Solutions Ltd, industrial and hire solutions company, Actavo and online ticketing reseller Resident Advisor.

Actavo operates in over 100 locations across the globe and has over 5,000 employees. Our smallest customer is a microbusiness operating NetSuite CRM for 3 users.

What is its turnover?

Turnover has increased substantially in each of the past three years and we have a realistic target of it doubling annually to reach over £1 million by our year end in April 2017.

How many employees?

Seven direct employees at the moment and we are still building the team. We have just recruited two young Strathclyde University graduates who will help us develop the software from a technical perspective.

When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

I qualified as an electronic and electrical engineer from the University of the West of Scotland, then worked in Belfast and London before moving back to Scotland, where I took a post-graduate qualification in advanced computer systems development. I joined an information technology services company and became known as its “NetSuite Champion”, moulding the software into something that was useful for the organisation. I found that I was talking more and more to our customers about NetSuite. It became a logical step to start on my own, so I became one of the UK’s first NetSuite partners – that was 13 years ago.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I obtained a small start-up loan from Royal Bank of Scotland and since then everything has been developed by way of organic growth.

In the beginning, I worked from home - there was no great investment in materials - before moving to a one-man office in Hillington Innovation Centre. We got a slightly bigger office after I was joined by my business partner, Paul Grant, a chartered accountant with extensive IT industry experience and business analysis skills.

We have grown to the extent that we currently occupy our third office in Hillington Innovation Centre. Recently, we have been accepted into the Scottish Enterprise High Growth Pipeline.

What was your biggest break?

Adding SAP to our portfolio. We were approached in 2011 by SAP directly as a result of our provenance in the cloud software market place. Being a SAP partner creates huge credibility in the software world and allows us to be a multi-product provider.

What was your worst moment?

A couple of years ago we lost one of our biggest clients, through no fault of our own - it was acquired by someone else. We had secured extra resource in anticipation of our contract and, when it fell through, we were left seriously under-employed. It hit cash flow, our business plans and our forecasts.

Emotionally, it was a blow. We had to pick ourselves up and get selling. We landed a couple of decent deals shortly afterwards which pulled us through. It also helped us accumulate “business scar tissue” which is invaluable, I think, in coping with disappointments but having the determination to overcome them.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Someone once said to me that as soon as you start your own business you become instantly unemployable. Anyone who branches off on their own is highly unlikely to go back. But who doesn’t enjoy being their own boss? You take on the risk but you reap the reward.

What do you least enjoy?

Being your own boss is meant to come with the ability to decide your work life balance. I haven’t reached that point yet. The long hours can be difficult sometimes. And because we have clients across the whole of the UK there is a requirement to travel. It can be hard on the family. That said, my youngest is only six months old and the plus side of traveling is that I can get a full night’s sleep!

What are your ambitions for the firm?

My immediate ambition is to grow the company with the ultimate aim of becoming the UK’s leading provider of cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning technology.

What are your top priorities?

To grow the business. Everything we do is geared towards making Cofficient a success in the cloud arena. We want to be the number one so all priorities really do lead towards business growth.

Diversification is probably the key. We have already developed a number of apps and add ons to our technology which we plan to take to market this year. Finding and keeping talent is also crucial.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Assist us by channelling more funding for growth. I would like to see more support for indigenous Scottish businesses and entrepreneurs rather than focus on inward investment. As to Westminster: ahead of any constitutional changes, reducing corporate taxation for SMEs would be an excellent start.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

The value of building a great team: I spent long enough on my own, and I know how difficult it is for an individual to grow a business. The more good people we take on, the more momentum we achieve.

How do you relax?

Quality time with my family, and some sport if I can fit it in. I am a keen tennis player and I like to cycle and play golf when I get the opportunity. Cofficient sponsor the 5 Ferry Challenge for cyclists each year so I am currently doing training for that.