Ignition launches industry scale-up bid with rebrandby
Proposal and payments tool Practice Ignition has changed its name and rebranded as Ignition, and rolled out a series of enhancements aimed at broadening the company’s appeal to a wider professional services firm market.
Now simply known as ‘Ignition’, the rebrand marks the next step in the vendor’s evolution from onboarding tool to what the firm calls a ‘client engagement and commerce platform’.
According to co-founder and former practice owner Guy Pearson, Ignition will continue to specialise in the accounting and bookkeeping market, but also target new markets and industries such as digital agencies, legal firms and financial advisers.
“We’ve always been designed with accountants in mind,” Pearson told AccountingWEB. “This just opens us up for the future. Other types of businesses have trouble getting cash in or managing their customer pipeline and were getting recommendations from their accountants to use us.
“Instead of receiving messaging on how to run an accounting firm that wasn’t relevant to them, the change allows us to provide them with better templates and solutions. We’re trying to build a Shopify for services, in effect.”
Launched in 2012 to help accountants and bookkeepers streamline client sign-ups with templated proposals and engagement letters, Ignition has built up its offering by adding a range of tools, including automated client billing, price proposals benchmarked by region, client dashboards and a CRM system.
Through partnerships and integrations with software giants such as Xero and QuickBooks Online, Ignition has rapidly expanded, and ten years on more than 5,000 accountants, bookkeepers and professional service firms use the vendor across territories including Australia, New Zealand, the UK and North America - with the latter now the vendor’s second-largest market as it seeks to capitalise on automation demands from the US and Canada.
The firm recently raised $50m USD in Series C funding to scale up its growth plans and according to Pearson, part of this expansion includes growing the 10% of its user base who aren’t from the accounting market.
Additional enhancements to the Ignition platform include the ability to import and export multiple contacts from a client, conversion rate optimisation in the proposal process, making it easier for a broad range of businesses to renew and upsell services, more flexible billing options and multiple option proposal templates from industry experts and partners.
Practice automation trend gathers pace
The move is the latest development in the fast-moving, fast-maturing practice automation and workflow tool market.
After two years of standing still during the pandemic, the latent demand for growth from ambitious practice owners and accountants is evident. However, perhaps a greater driver for automation tools is the struggle to recruit and retain staff in one of the most challenging labour markets ever experienced by the accounting profession.
As with any new area of technology, the automation picture is still unclear and vendors from different parts of the accounting ecosystem are seeking to find ways to capitalise on the demand.
Sage’s acquisition of pricing and onboarding app GoProposal back in October positioned client onboarding as a centralised ‘horizontal’ function, with other accounting platform operators rumoured to be pursuing that model - and potentially eating into operators like Ignition’s turf.
Karbon’s recent raise of $66m, which the practice management vendor plans to invest in developing end-to-end practice management capabilities, "from prospect and lead to proposal, onboarding and scheduling” points to growth in the market from another angle.
Ignition’s Pearson was keen to stress that by using automation and workflow tools, professional services firms can gain an advantage over competitors and increase profitability by optimising client management.
“Clients service teams, team leaders, even partners at some firms, are spending 20% of their time checking who’s paid, calling prospects to see if they’ve received the proposal, chasing up engagement letters amends - it’s all unnecessary and no one enjoys it,” said Pearson.
“We’re aiming to help accountants spend more time providing value to clients and the next stage of our scale-up will hopefully boost the accountant-client relationship and the base level of service. At the moment customers are way more likely to give their Uber driver five stars for customer service - something that’s just not right in terms of value for money - and we’re trying to change that.