Ottawa's The Better Software Co. returns to hiring following layoffs

The Better Software Company is back in growth mode.

Last week, the company - which makes enterprise resource planning software for small businesses - released its first product aimed at businesses with multiple locations.

“When we first started, we were all about helping individual locations, but what we quickly found out is people were reaching out to us from larger organizations, such as franchise organizations,” says Steve Cody, the company’s founder and CEO. “They were reaching out to us, saying we need something that will help us run our business better.”

The Better Software Co. is one of Ottawa’s hottest software-as-a-service firms and raised $1.35 million in seed funding last year and an additional $1.6 million in venture capitalearlier this year.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

In June, The Better Software Company laid off 42 employees after a $3-million funding deal fell through at the last second.

“That was a really tough day for us," Mr. Cody says. “But what I’m proud to say is within about two weeks we found 90 per cent of those people new jobs. We kept two people on to find them jobs.”

Now, he says the company is raising another round of funding and started hiring again. It currently employs 36 people and has six open positions.

“We've got our mojo back and we’re back in hiring mode,” he says.

Expanded market

The company’s new BPro Platform is meant to be used by individual business owners - such as a franchisee - while also connecting them to the larger organization.

“There’s these huge organizations where the organization itself has an ERP,” Mr. Cody says. “But there was never anything built for the end-users, what ends up being the small business. It was too expensive and just too complicated to give anything to these people, so they were left to fend for themselves.”

While franchises are the main target market, Mr. Cody says his company is also working with some municipalities. It can also be used by businesses that have differentiated business units.

“Information flows up to head office and then information can also be pushed down, which really helps the small business owner,” he says.

The product is intended to be used by business owners themselves or by generalists.

“One of the big distinctions for us is whether or not the functionality is used by a generalist or a specialist, if you’re an individual location, you don’t have a marketing department, you don’t have an IT department, you have a generalist or it’s you,” says Chris Neil, the company’s chief marketing officer.

“We’re all about delivering simplicity,” says Mr. Cody. “We’re more focused with being the heart of the company and then building out from there.

The company’s next focus will be to bring more big data and predictive analytics to small businesses.

“How many business owners don’t know how to put Google ads together? Or Facebook ads? Or even know what medium would work best for them? Maybe what week day of the week they should advertise, or what time of the night they should advertise? We’re starting to track that data,” Mr. Cody says.

It will also be able to suggest items that sell well together or even when to implement surge pricing.

“Walmart has this, Target has this, [but] the small guys don’t have this,” he says.