MONIQUE FORD/StuffMel Gollan, founder and chief executive of RIP Global, wants to take her technology from Wellington to the world.
Mel Gollan’s bid for more control, and the company that became, was born of chaos. Receipts and invoices littered the lounge of her Gisborne home.
“You think, this is actually really stupid for me to be doing this,” she recalls.
“So I looked at receipts and invoices, which are digitally created, and I looked at a bank statement, which is digitally created, and I thought why do these things not talk to each other, in a way that is meaningful for the customer…what needs to happen for me to never need to look at this again?”
* Māori tech disrupter RIP Global seeking finance overseas to expand
* Start-up RIPglobal.com sees billion dollar potential in slashing paperwork
The answer was RIP Global, a company and a digital integration platform that pulls together commerce and compliance, making “pain in the arse” receipts and paperwork redundant, for customers and the firms they deal with.
Using what it calls “dynamic QR codes”, customers of participating businesses have purchase receipts and other financial admin loaded and processed automatically in their accounts, doing away with the need for paperwork. Company software is integrated with MYOB and Xero to ease the process.
It’s a similar result for the business, reducing the time and cost of some accounting processes.
The company was founded by Gollan, funded in large part by family, friends and Māori interests, and is now based in Wellington.
It employs 12 people in the capital and a few more in Singapore, where Gollan is set to head early next month to establish the Asian hub for the next step in securing a slice of what she believes could be a “trillion-dollar” industry.
But first she needs to finish her coffee and head for Scots College and her 11-year-old son’s rugby game. Her other son is 14.
Where does she find the time?
“I’m a woman. Next question. I thrive on it. You are either wired that way or you are not.”
Amy Li/StuffRIP Global’s app and software helps people do away with receipts, but the bigger opportunity is in the exchange of money as part of purchases.
And she’s been wired and working since she was young.
“When I was at high school I worked two part-time jobs, was a competitive equestrian, used to take every Friday off school, drive myself around the country when I was 15 on my own with a horse float and two ponies.
“If I’ve got nothing to do, then you’re in trouble.”
Not that she’s idle for long.
To turn the revelation of her Gisborne lounge floor into the realisation of a new Wellington-based company she had to do the research in her own time, while holding down sales and marketing consultancy roles for other people, including a contract for Plunket.
And she had to surround herself with people who knew more about the technology and coding required.
There were early mistakes – “because I’m not a technologist you don’t really know what you are looking at, so you’ve got to learn pretty fast” – but she now has the team in place, multi-year government contracts in motion, and a plan.
MONIQUE FORD/StuffMel Gollan chats with a staff member at Wellington-based RIP Global. The company employs 12 people in the capital and a few more in Singapore. Gollan is keen to ramp that up as the Asian hub grows.
RIP Global has produced an app and software that are integrated with various accounting platforms and use QR codes in participating retailers to help people better organise their purchasing. Some government agencies use the technology as part of their own procurement processes.
But that’s small change, says Gollan.
She has her sights set on a global audience and new technology that, because of its high-level compliance and protected IP, allows customers to actually load money on to their personalised QR codes.
Gollan says RIP Global has a pilot with one government organisation, and a lot of interest from others here and overseas.
“I think it could hit a trillion dollars,” she says. “If we get 10 per cent of our total addressable market, it’s a trillion-dollar opportunity.”
Sharon McCutcheonRIP Global is looking at ways to use its protected technology to help organisations and their clients exchange money and purchases, which it says is a “trillion-dollar opportunity”.
Funding that next step remains an issue.
The company is now part of the New Zealand Trade Enterprise Focus 700 group, “so they co-invest with us when we move into a new country, a percentage of our costs”.
That has helped the move into Singapore, but local support to significantly scale up remains elusive.
“The New Zealand investment landscape has what I call the America’s Cup mentality – they will only help you when you’ve got your hands on the cup.”
So like Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup, Gollan is likely to look offshore for financial support.
“I’m more likely to get funding and support from overseas – 100 per cent,” she says. “American investors are a lot more competitive and aggressive, and they are prepared to back you, whereas in New Zealand, they want to see how many years you have been operating, profit…”
You wouldn’t bet against Gollan making it, either.
“In every shop? No we are not yet, but neither was Visa when they started.”
* This is the second instalment in a week-long series profiling Wellington companies with global ambitions.