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Pearl wins celebrity endorsement

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20th Jul 2009
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Celebrity entrepreneur Doug Richard, a judge in BusinessZone.co.uk’s investment competition The Pitch 2009, has become a director of web-based business software house Pearl.  John Stokdyk reports.

In an online video describing his decision (see below), Richard explained that he surveyed the market for web-based business software and felt that Pearl offered a solution that mirrored the comprehensive NetSuite approach, but at a tenth of the price.

“The key thing for Doug is not to keep your accounts separate from your contacts - he’s speaking our language. We get calls every day from people who say Doug has recommended us to them,” said Pearl director Andrew Mulvenna.

“The effect is that more people know what we do. The celebrity thing is crude, but it works. Alongside that, he’s helping to solve problems for us and will transform what we’re doing.”

The former TV panellist and investor is a fan of online business accounting systems and recommends the technology to people who attend his School for Startups.

Richard contacted Pearl after surveying the market for online business accounting systems and deciding it was the best one to recommend at his seminars.

According to Mulvenna, Richard’s approach was very direct: “This is the deal. I’m going to plug your product and I’ll get a cut. Or I’ll be involved...”

A short, intense negotiation followed shortly afterwards and was concluded in a canal-side Bristol car park. In exchange for a “single digit” equity share, Richard became a non-executive director of Pearl and his close associate Chris Chapman took over as finance director.

 “Doug knows how to run a business. He’s very level headed and thinks quickly,” said Mulvenna.  For his part, Chapman built up software business that he sold to GE and has experience of running both small companies and listed corporations.

Having proposed getting directly involved with Pearl, Richard promised, “I’ll be all over your face” and is already alerting the way Pearl is perceived and how it operates.

Having a famous investor hasn’t distracted Pearl’s focus, he added. The company’s most recent update brought in a new user interface and a pricing structure that starts with a free CRM & invoicing/ecommerce edition up to an umlimited Premium service for £45 a month that adds accounts, service desk and advanced features to the bundle.

Using the system internally, Pearl has made the administration entirely self-service, so that users can upgrade or downgrade their account as they go along and generate their own invoices and documentation, Mulvenna said.

                                      

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