Australian cloud technology group simPRO Software has secured AUD$40 million in growth capital as part of an aggressive product innovation and expansion strategy that has seen the company enter the United States and the United Kingdom over the last two years. The funding was secured from New York-based growth equity firm Level Equity. simPRO has been self-funded since it was established in Brisbane in 2002 and is currently owned by private shareholders, including current staff. simPRO Software provides leading-edge job management software for the trade service industry. The cloud-based system helps businesses work smarter, provide exceptional service, and maximise their profitability. The software is designed for operators in the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and security industries. At the end of June 2016 simPRO had more than 2,500 clients and 80,000 users around the world, with clients ranging from small contracting operations through to corporate enterprises with thousands of staff. simPRO Software CEO Brad Couper (pictured) said the investment by Level Equity would provide the capital to support a range of initiatives including product enhancements, growing customer support, and marketing. “We have set ambitious goals for our business over the next few years and believed a sophisticated investment partner with deep expertise in vertical market software could meaningfully enhance the velocity with which we achieve those goals,” Mr Couper said. “We have been flattered with a significant amount of interest in our business from investors around the globe and spent time with a range of partners both in Australia and the US before deciding on Level Equity. “Level has a nuanced understanding of our business model and the end markets in which we operate. Their knowledge and capital will be an important asset for simPRO moving forward.” Level Equity Founder Ben Levin said, “We speak with thousands of vertically specific SaaS businesses each year and have been impressed with what Brad and the team at simPRO have built with no external capital. “We engaged with the business over a long period of time and have a shared vision for continuing to build world class business software that serves contractors and other tradesmen, allowing them to be more successful as they grow their businesses.” Mr Couper recently relocated, along with a number of other corporate staff, from Australia to simPRO’s new offices in Boulder, Colorado, as part of a major push into the US market. simPRO has been slowly introducing its software platform to the US market since mid-2015, but plans to embark on a rapid growth strategy, launching in up to four states throughout the US over the next 12 months starting with Colorado. The business already attracts integrations with a range of global leading third-party software providers, such as Intuit, Xero, MYOB and many industry wholesalers. Mr Couper said product development and enhancement remained a core focus for the company and would unpderpin its future success. “Our goal is to be the dominant contractor software platform around the world. To do that we need to continue to lead the way in innovation for our clients, and be adaptable to their changing needs,” he said. “We want to be more than a software solution. We want to help our clients pursue what they are passionate about, whether it’s business growth, personal wealth, or the freedom to pursue life outside of work: we call it the simPRO journey.” The simPRO Story Company co-founder Stephen Bradshaw, an electrical contractor by trade, said the company had come a long way since he and co-founder Vaughan McKillop began working on a solution for managing his growing trade services business in 2002. “We only had three or four staff – any bigger than that and you started to lose control,” he said. “I realised that what electrical and other trade businesses really needed was systemisation and automation. We needed software to help us keep visibility and manageability, and many, many other trade businesses were in the same position.” Around that time, Mr Bradshaw’s cousin introduced him to Mr McKillop, who was studying software engineering at Griffith University. Mr McKillop left his job delivering pizza to work part-time for Mr Bradshaw, doing data entry for the electrical business in his converted garage. One day, Mr Bradshaw asked Mr McKillop to create a website for the business. Mr McKillop explained that his strengths actually lay in writing software. The conversation quickly led to the creation of simPRO. “I didn’t want other people to have to go through the heartache of becoming a slave to their business. I saw an opportunity for Vaughan and I to try to create a solution together,” Mr Bradshaw said. Using the web-based PHP and MySQL languages Mr McKillop was familiar with, they began creating the first, cloud-based iteration of simPRO – starting with job lists, then working on a scheduling tool for allocating time and technicians. As the software grew, they realised they’d created a tool that could indeed help other businesses, and began sharing it with other electrical contractors to test its usefulness, and, eventually, selling it to them.