Five years ago November, I met Rod Drury in Las Vegas at what was then the Sleeter Conference. I’m pretty sure that was Xero and Rod's first exposure to the US market. There was a lot of talk in Brisbane about how Xero changes lives. Boy, has it changed mine. Little did I know that 1) Harshman Phillips would become HPC 2) A little boutique CPA firm in Atlanta would become a global technology professional services and advisory company 3) HPC and I would have NO physical offices and lastly 4) I would get to travel the world AND be recognized in far away places as a sort of Xero hero and industry icon. All of that thanks to Xero, taking a leap of faith, and a lot of hard work.
I can't say enough about the Xero ecosystem and worldwide community and the changes and opportunities it has afforded me (for those of you that know me, YES my eyes are welling up!). The business relationships and more importantly, the deep personal friendships developed around the world, are and have been just amazing.
With all of that said and provided the opportunity to attend both XeroCon SF and XeroCon South in Brisbane (Brizzy or Brisvegas as it is affectionately called). I thought I would share my observations and a little comparison. I do believe I was the only US Xero Partner to attend both.
I am going to break it into two blog posts. First the fun stuff, here. Next week I will cover the business side.
Location: San Francisco vs Brisbane - result = Tie
Both cities are awesome for different reasons. Things I like, the waterfront (Bay vs. River). Brisbane was much cleaner and Southbank was awesome for 5:00AM walks along river and Flat White's to wake me up (cause I didn't sleep more than 2 or 3 hours at a time for my first week here). But SF is SF, Golden Gate, Cable Cars, etc. and 5:00AM walks straight up Nob Hill.
Venue: Pier 27 in SF vs Convention Center in Brisbane = Tie
Both venues were awesome. Hard to compare 900 to 2300 participants and what was needed. But they both served their purpose for 2016.
The tent in SF was pretty cool (except when the storms came) and some of us thought the tent was going to fly away or cave in on us.
Food: Winner - Brisbane
I wasn't very fond of the choices, volume or timing of the food in SF. In my humble opinion SF could have done better. Plenty of food in Brisbane, in the right locations, at the right times, easy to get to, AND find a place to sit and eat. It's tough eating finger food when standing with a drink in the other hand. Can you say more tables?
Awards and Dinner: Winner - Brisbane
Lots of beautiful people all dressed up - Black Ties and long gowns, and generally all decked out....enough said.
Although I did hear LOTS of disappointment in the disappearance of the Xero Band (that apparently had been quite the tradition in NZ and AU).
The US is big enough now to have an awesome Gala event (in my humble opinion).
Coffee: Winner - Brisbane
Come on, Flat Whites....:) I had 2 or 3 a day! Come to think of it, maybe that's the reason I couldn't sleep. Oh well.
And for some reason the lines moved WAY faster in Brisbane. I'm not sure if the barista's are just better at what they do, or maybe just more organized and had a better workflow. But several times in SF I gave up on getting a cappuccino or flat white and had to settle for regular coffee.
MC: Winner - SF (by a landslide)
While I am sure Kate Mills is a lovely person and well qualified, the vibe around the Main Stage in Brisbane was quite disappointing. Greg Kyte in SF on the other hand, was engaging and freaking hilarious. No one got up and left while he was on stage! Just saying.
Exhibit Hall: Winner: Brisbane
Understandably there are more Add On Partners in NZ and AU as the markets are much more mature. But the setup of the Hall in Brisbane was excellent. It was easy to maneuver, find companies, and despite 2300 participants, never seemed too crowded. In all fairness, this measure has something to do with what the venues allowed and their configurations. In SF it was long and skinny so it was not so easy to navigate and always seemed packed.
Add on Partners and Ecosystem = Tie (SF was better for me, but Brisbane had more and seemed to solve more pain for the accountants, bookkeepers and SMB's)
It was great to see 91 Add on Partners in the Exhibit Hall. For me, many of them only operate in NZ or AU and are not available in the US currently. Hopefully that will change. Will cover the more serious topic of this and the why's in the follow up Blog next week.
I also want to give a shoutout to our partners in the US that were present in Brisbane (in no particular order as to not offend), Expensify, Hubdoc, TSheets, Practice Ignition, Crunchboards, Dear, and CIN7 and especially to our partners in the US who also happen to also be HPC clients, Receipt Bank, Spotlight, and ServiceM8.
It was particularly great to see such enthusiasm around the Expensify and Hubdoc booths (who just so happened to be next to each other). They have both recently entered and are new to the NZ and AU markets. The accountants and bookkeepers seemed to be attracted to them like bees to honey (once they understood what they did and what can be gained by utilizing or implementing them).
Three more Kudos to hand out:
1) To the team at Practice Ignition who apparently was setting records for the signing up of new customers at a Trade Show
2) To TSheets who consistently and once once again had the largest and loudest crowds at their booth (both in SF and in Brisbane) - will let you all figure out the why’s
3) And to Spotlight for winning Add On partner of the year.
So in conclusion, gotta give it to Brisbane. Sorry SF. The reason? Because it's always about the Food and Coffee!
Looking for more information on bringing your business to the U.S.? Click here to view our guide on ‘Expanding Your Company to the US’.
I will be on a webinar while in Australia this month (September 2016) where Lisa Callaghan from Interactive Accounting and I will discussing expanding to the US, as well as the benefits of having local foreign advisors collaborate to provide a global back office and compliance solution. Click the below link to sign up for the respective webinar.
Too late to join the webinar? That’s okay! We’re happy to do a free personalized consultation any time. Just reach out to us via any of the contact forms on our site and we’ll be in touch to discuss your specific questions and needs.
Need a full-service cloud accounting solution?
Please get in touch using the button below!