Datagate – A Kea Connect Journey.
Datagate CEO Mark Loveys has been dubbed one of New Zealand’s most successful serial software engineers, his online billing portal has helped hundreds of managed service providers streamline their processes. We spoke to him about the growth of his company, the importance of understanding your customer and the competitive advantage kiwis have on the world stage.
Tell us about the solution Datagate provides?
Datagate is a SaaS billing solution designed for managed service providers (MSPs) who sell telecom services. Most of Datagate’s MSP clients are in the United States, but we also serve clients in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Datagate supports all the sophisticated pricing plans used within the telecom industry and enables MSPs to generate their telecom invoices automatically, quickly and cost effectively, with integrations to their telecom, taxation and business management platforms.
What has been your key learning in your time as CEO of Datagate?
I’ve learnt the importance of understanding the intricate needs of your customers and how those needs can differ in different geographies and jurisdictions. There is no better way to understand and connect with a market within a geography than to live there for a while and immerse yourself in the ecosystems of your customers.
Datagate is a global company. Can you speak to any key opportunities and challenges that exist in the telco sector across the regions Datagate operates in?
Phones and computers have converged, which means that IT companies all over the world now want to sell phone systems, while phone companies want to sell IT services. Because of this, there is now worldwide demand for a new type of telecom billing system like Datagate that is designed specifically for the needs of IT companies (or MSPs as they are now known) where it integrates not only with the telecom systems, but also with their own industry-specific systems and software (for example ConnectWise, AutoTask, Kaseya and other MSP business management systems). In the United States, the taxes on telecom services are very complicated because of the many jurisdictions that put taxes on communications, including the federal government, states, counties and cities. Datagate handles this complexity by integrating with the leading telecom tax engines and partnering with telecom tax & compliance specialists. Solving this complex tax and compliance problem makes Datagate even more compelling to MSPs in the United States.
How has Datagate grown since 2017?
Over the four years since 2017, Datagate’s monthly recurring revenue has grown by 600% while our FTE count has grown by 83%. We now have ten people based in North America, (including myself in Vancouver, Canada), six people in New Zealand and another six people in Europe. We are now truly an international business that was born in New Zealand and is still owned by New Zealanders.
Tell us about your experience with Kea Connect since reaching out in 2017?
In 2017 Kea Connect introduced us to the former CEO of Telstra in Australia. This was an amazing introduction for us, and this contact in turn introduced us to senior people inside Telstra that we could never have reached without his help. Those connections gave us a tremendous introduction to the Australian market, which was our first port of call outside New Zealand.
I’m amazed at the heights that kiwis have achieved in business around the world and Kea Connect is a fantastic resource to connect with them.
What competitive advantage do you think Kiwi entrepreneurs have on the global stage?
Kiwi entrepreneurs tend to like big challenges, are not afraid of hard work and are adaptable. Coming from a smaller economy you learn to be efficient and to look after your customers because there aren’t so many of them and they are more likely to know each other. In my experience, most people you meet around the world have a positive view of New Zealand and New Zealanders, and that always helps. Having an international Kiwi network like Kea Connect can help a lot too!
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