Michael Salem is the CEO of Vorex, a company he co-founded in 2007, and under his leadership, Vorex has grown to become a leading provider of cloud-based professional services automation (PSA) solutions. The company provides cost-effective, user-friendly software solutions to help small- to mid-size businesses streamline operations, automate time-consuming tasks, and improve the bottom line while focusing on their core business.
Vorex is a leader in PSA software and manages core business processes with a single comprehensive solution. Vorex PSA is the only cloud-based single comprehensive software for the small- to mid-size business market offering project management, time and expense tracking, billing and invoicing solutions with an integrated CRM and HR solution. With Vorex PSA software, companies can streamline operations, automate time-consuming tasks, and improve bottom line while focusing on their core business.
Vorex PSA is a secure, cloud-based solution with an easy-to-use interface that empowers companies with a traditional or mobile workforce to manage projects, track time, and record expenses from any mobile device and Web browser. Its integrated invoicing reduces billing time and increases profitability. With real-time data visibility and profit analysis, Vorex PSA boosts profit margins. Additionally, Vorex PSA offers native integration with QuickBooks and seamless integration with Peachtree and other financial software, allowing businesses to maintain one database for all data. Vorex PSA is the total solution for any small- to mid-size business.
BusinessInterviews.com: What key factors allowed you to succeed in launching a B2B software company in a very crowded space, dominated by big players?
Mike: Believe it or not, when it comes to technology, a crowded place dominated by big players is the best place for a startup company. If you look at the evolution of software companies, many of these big players started with an affordable and friendly solution – they were a great fit for a large spectrum of the market. But over time, they became more complex and more expensive. This is a natural course for software solutions unless they have it planned from the beginning to stay simple and friendly to use. What this means is that these big players are now a better fit for larger enterprise companies, while the small and medium companies are left behind. That is exactly when the market itself demands a new company to come in and fill this gap. Another advantage for startups in this market is the fact that they can learn what works (and what does not) from the big players. So a startup does not have to start form Point Zero, rather from Point Six or Seven. So all in all, it is a blessing to have these big players around.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about the misconception that many SMBs have in believing that it would be expensive to get a single solution that would automate the majority of their processes?
Mike: It is the name recognition and the media leverage that gives this misconception. Who doesn’t know about Oracle or SAP? Great companies with great products, and they are almost a household name, but the majority of SMBs have never heard of the other 20 companies that might be a much better fit for them. That’s because these smaller solution providers have not been in business for 20-plus years, and don’t have a multi-million dollar budget to be in every related publication and on billboards. In reality, the other smaller providers are there, and the SMB decision makers might need to invest some time to find them. They are there, and a simple search in software directories (such as GetApp.com Capterra.com or SoftwreAdvice.com) will bring most of them up, including their features and reviews.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s one marketing strategy that’s worked well for you?
Mike: The best way is to go where the SMB decision makers gather and tell them we are here. We rely heavily on targeted online marketing and being listed in software directories. But that is half of our success. The other half is staying very visible in industry verticals that can benefit from our solution. For example, we have many satisfied clients who are in the architecture, construction, IT and health sectors. We look for the publications, forums, and news sites that these professionals visit often and concentrate our messaging there. I believe that a non-well planned and focused marketing strategy is a leading factor for the failure of any company, especially newer ones.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some emerging trends that you’re excited about?
Mike: There are two in particular. First, there’s the trend of providing clients with an all-in-one solution. This is exactly what Vorex has been doing from day one. The ability for a business to link so many of their business functions within one single and natively integrated solution will significantly reduce the learning curves associated with learning multiple systems, reduce the cost of software licensing, unify processes and user experience, and most importantly, give management a single point of information that will give them a 360-degree view of their operation. That’s quite a serious productivity and efficiency boost! The other trend that is exciting is the increased use of mobile applications. We all loved the laptops because the workforce was becoming more mobile. Now, the laptop seems to be a bit outdated in many cases, and people want to do more with smaller devices. I personally do at least 30-50% of my work from either my smartphone or tablet, and I am not the only one. So it is very exciting to see how we are living in yet another workforce productivity evolution.
BusinessInterviews.com: Startups typically need to pivot and evolve their business model over time, especially as customers start to use the product. Can you provide some advice or lessons learned to entrepreneurs on pivoting while keeping your business moving forward at the same time?
Mike: This is a common problem, especially for startups. I remember when Twitter used to go down every now and then, due to larger-than-expected success. More recently, we all remember when it went down again for the infamous ‘Oscar Selfie’ just a few weeks ago. While this is expected, it’s not a bad thing. It’s simply a growing pain. The bad thing is not to address it immediately, and more importantly, learn from it. It’s a cat and mouse game, and the more people who start using your product, newer problems will arise – a non-ending game. So my advice is to watch and listen, notice failure points as you grow and not just patch it, but anticipate the next one and make a fix/enhancement to address the anticipated one before it happens. Clients are tolerant in general, but they should be treated professionally and get a great service, they should not deal with problems every other day. Otherwise there are many other vendors and choices in the market that do what you do, and they will eventually leave you. The other advice is to listen to your clients. Do not think you know it all. Always adjust and enhance your product to meet what the clients are asking for. At Vorex for example, almost every single release enhancement we’ve implemented is based on what the clients asked for. It has been an amazing success for us and the clients.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share any of your plans for expansion with our readers?
Mike: We are currently bringing in many newer features and modules that are usually found only in larger and more expensive solutions. But as we always do at Vorex, we will keep the lower prices and ensure that the user experience stays very simple. For example, we are introducing this year an out-of this-world interactive utilization module that will give business owners and managers a complete view on who is doing what at the companies, who is over/under utilized, a comparison of what you forecasted the workload to be vs. what is the actual workload being done, and much more. We are also introducing significant new additions to our current built-in CRM system. We believe that a CRM system should be part of the company’s core system, and not simply a third party solution integrated through some sort of API.
And finally, we will raise the curtains later this year on the Managed Services Providers (MSP) module. We are very excited about this new ‘Help Desk’ module that will be an integrated solution within our Professional Services Automation (PSA) system. This module will be the core brain for any help-desk style company such as IT help desks.
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