Home A web software success story from New Zealand – lessons applicable anywhere!

A web software success story from New Zealand – lessons applicable anywhere!

This story warms the cockles of my heart, not only as a kiwi but a wanna-be Web
millionnare 😉 AfterMail, a company from my
hometown Wellington New Zealand, recently sold their web mail
to US company Quest for $14.7 million upfront and another $30 million in
cash if it meets performance targets. That’s US dollars folks! US$45 Million for a
Web mail solution, made by a little New Zealand startup.

AfterMail isn’t what some of us might call a Web 2.0 company, but it fills a niche in
the ‘software as a service’ ecosystem. As local rag The Dominion Post described it [via

“The idea is deceptively simple – an email management tool that lets companies
quickly search their archives to find messages to or from a certain customer, on a
certain date, with a certain attachment or with specific or unwanted content, such as

Instead of storing it all on a company’s already crammed servers, store it on a
dedicated server and allow customers to access it through a Web browser.

That’s basically what Wellington start-up AfterMail does.”

Browsing Rod Drury’s blog (one of the founders
of AfterMail), it’s interesting to see how he picks up on opportunities in the Web market
just by observing his own work habits and extrapolating from there. For example take a
look at his post entitled The changing nature
of work
, which as a fellow Wellingtonian working on the Web for clients on the other
side of the world — I can definitely relate to! In a follow-up post, Rod notes the

“Another big change is nature of my work has moved so that Virtual Collaboration is
becoming a larger part of my day. I (verb) email, Skype, IM, Web demo, Conference call
etc. (noun) Partners, Staff, Customers, Analysts, etc. 

Virtual Collaboration is bigger than just communication as information gained through
interaction needs to be stored and be accessible. So each communication interaction adds
value to the shared information.

[…] So rather than an all encompassing piece of software, like some new bits in
Office 12, I think the opportunity is a methodology and some glue over the standard
components we use now.”

I know most of my readers are US-based, but I think AfterMail is a great example of
how would-be Web entrepreneurs can build very successful niche businesses by spotting
what is seemingly a simple (but overlooked or underserved) gap in the market – and
filling it. It doesn’t need to be a sexy Web 2.0 business. As AfterMail demonstrated, and
as Rod noted in his recent posts, there are loads of potentially profitable opportunities for web-based software
that can meet current market needs.

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