Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Brightpearl

Bristol-based Brightpearl was founded by Chris Tanner and Andrew Mulvenna in 2007 with the idea there is a niche in the financial software market. The company specializes in development of end-to-end web based solutions and offers its product as Software as a Service (SaaS). Actually, their flagship solution includes integrated CRM, accounting, order and stock management, website and e-commerce management, and help desk modules intended for SMEs. The company allows customers to use these modules separately or as a fully integrated platform.

In an increasingly cloud-based environment, the British company provides integration with web services like Gmail, Google Apps, MailChimp and other leading web-based services. Brightpearl’s philosophy is based on the same idea all other innovative Cloud Computing companies utilize; namely, to eliminate the need of transferring information between various types of software that are locally deployed and not interconnected. Brightpearl (yes, their system runs under the same name) is an online system featuring multi-user and multi-platrofrm capabilities, and runs on PCs and Macs alike.

The core module of Brightpearl’s solution is their CRM software allowing users to create custom fields, generate reports, and import and export data from Excel and MS Outlook. The CRM module stores information on contacts, emails, activities, and opportunities while providing functionality to send SMS and bulk emails straight from the CRM. The software features reminders for various activities, which are distributed via email or SMS.

The online invoicing software is the another core module of Brightpearl’s system. It is also web-based and provides management, quotes and invoicing capabilities allowing users to work through their user accounts from anywhere in the world. This is not an unknown feature in the software world but not many invoicing and accounting software products boast such a functionality. The system allows creation of PDF invoices and quotes, which can be emailed to the customer by user’s discretion. A virtual credit card terminal allows online payments, while the system is able to track foreign exchange rates enabling execution of deals in multiple currencies. The module also features creation of price levels for different customer types as well as tailor-made price lists for particular customers.

The accounting module of Brightpearl fully integrates with all other widespread accounting software products and the other modules of the platform. The company offers migration from other systems and data import tools for MYOB, Netsuite, Sage ACT! and Sage users. This is important since many companies are accustomed to a certain software product or are afraid of data loss during migration to new software platforms.
The module features standard double-entry journal and ability to generate reports that are exported to PDF or Excel. An advanced functionality allows multiple users to simultaneously access the same data while users are able to connect to the system remotely. Tax and VAT support are also available.

Another module is designed to provide online stock management. The module integrates with the accounting and e-commerce functionality and tracks stock in multiple warehouses. It also features barcode functionality, serial numbers for selected items, and unlimited SKUs. The system integrates with online stores and allows customers to run their website and stock control concurrently. This is made possible via a built-in CMS system, a rare functionality in a product featuring invoicing, accounting and stock management capabilities. The product provides even more advanced functionality allowing customers to create and maintain multiple templates per website, multiple domains per website and multiple different banded websites/shops. Those who are aware of the importance of SEO in today’s overcrowded online world will find advantageous built-in functions like auto generated site map, integration with Google analytics, meta-keywords and description capabilities and options to tack conversion rates.

Brightpearl Service Desk is an additional module allowing customers to organize their own help desk solution that creates support tickets and allows customers to create tickets online. Such a module is advantageous for SMEs who do not have vast resources to maintain large call desk centers and want to offer such a service to their clients.

Obviously, Brightpearl has managed to grow tremendously in only three years and now is among the fastest growing Cloud Computing start-ups in Europe. It attracted the attention of venture capital companies Eden Ventures and Notion Capital, which invested USD 1.5 million in the company in June 2010. Following finalization of the funding, Brightpearl announced that the funds will be used to fuel its global expansion plans. At present, Brightpearl’s SaaS solution is deployed and utilized by customers in the United States, South Africa, Spain and China.

Actually, Brightpearl is well positioned in a highly competitive market and unlike many “traditional” vendors of similar software products it bets on an innovative cloud-based approach. In addition, the man behind the company – Chris Tanner – managed to grow its first enterprise called Lush Longboards to top 3 position in the global long skateboard business. It is too early to forecast whether Brightpearl is able to enter the top 10 list of the global cloud computing companies but evidently there is something bright in this start-up.

By Kiril Kirilov

2 Responses to Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Brightpearl

  1. Brightpearl is without doubt the most difficult, confusing and complicated piece of business software I’ve ever come across. 
    It’s also absolutely crawling with bugs. Since July 2010 I’ve raised 66 support requests. These are not trivial issues, e.g.
    ► displaying one customer’s records in a different account
    ► misreporting supplier listings
    ► supplier reported as customer
    ► bugs in displays
    ► timing out or crashing completely, sometimes after a few seconds
    ► paid invoices in the aged debtors report
    ► aged debtors listing doesn’t match outstanding invoices
    ► different amounts reported for an invoice in different places
    ► failing to create or edit records
    ► VAT report failed to reconcile, reported as successful on one screen but not on another
    ► VAT report details changing after reconciliation
    ► items which should be filtered are displayed
    ► searches failing to operate
    ► payment details on invoices displayed in the wrong fields
    ► spurious characters on invoices
    ► payment reminder popups from Brightpearl appearing after every action despite payment being up to date
    ► contact details including financial records disappearing
    ► CRM system reporting customer as overdue for contact when contact record showed he’d been contacted 
    ► “stuck” transactions that cannot be cleared 
    ► hundreds of transaction numbers in the general ledger with no associated transactions – about 13% of total transactions
    ► dates disappearing from transactions in general ledger
    ► meaningless error messages, e.g. “Client data error”, with no explanation of how to fix

    Sound like a system you could trust? 
    I cannot say this strongly enough – DON’T BUY THIS SOFTWARE! 
    Put very simply, it is not fit for purpose. Avoid at all costs. 
    I’ve switched to Xero – it’s a massive breath of fresh air after the nightmare of using Brightpearl.