Intuit will take on the world from Mississauga

Mississauga, Ont.’s high-tech hub has a new tenant. Setting-up shop next door to HP Canada, Intuit intends to use its new facility on Spectrum Way to capture the multi-billion dollar opportunity to sell business software to the developing world.

The newly opened Mississauga office will house Intuit’s global business division explained Gene Lewis, vice-president, sales and marketing for Intuit’s global business division, at the facility’s opening last week. There will be about 100 employees to start, with room for growth. Canada is a good launching-point, said Lewis, as 96 per cent of businesses here are SMBs.

“Whether it’s your cab driver or your hair dresser, they’re all small businesses. We give them ways to maximize their work and let them do what they want to do, which is realize their dreams,” said Lewis. “They didn’t go into business to become accountants.”

Best known for its QuickTax, QuickBooks and Quicken lines of tax and accounting software, Intuit Canada’s headquarters is in Edmonton. However, when it came to looking for a location for this new global division locations around the world were considered said Alex Lintner, president of Intuit’s global business division.

“We surveyed our global workforce and our Canadian community blew us away. They’ve lived around the world, they’re diverse, and they have superior software development skills,” said Lintner. “I think we can build software here for the world and we can export it. We will build jobs in this community and I look forward to it.”

Today, said Lintner, Intuit is a $3.1 billion company. However, $the vast majority of that total comes from one country: the United States.

“Literally, in our public reports, we used to call that ‘other,’” said Lintner. “When we thought about how we can continue to grow this company at 15 per cent year, we thought maybe we shouldn’t call it other.”

Intuit’s idea to grow its next billion dollars in business, said Lintner, is to take its offerings, which the company feels are the best offerings available for small business, and bring them everywhere small businesses are, and want to go.

The company served 31 million small businesses in Canada and the U.S. But there are 400 million small businesses in the rest of the world. And some 60 per cent of them are located in 12 countries in Southeast Asia.

“We’re going to go and build software for the world, built in a way that can serve those emerging markets in Southeast Asia,” said Lintner. “This planet’s future is in those countries. And we’ve decided to build those products here in Canada.”

There are 80 million street vendors in India, said Lintner, and they’re all small businesses. They don’t carry laptops with them, however.

“Our software in the future won’t only be in the computer, or online,” said Lintner. “It will be on the cell phone as well.”

In addition to serving local small businesses, Intuit also wants to help small businesses that are looking to go global. Holly Bond founded Bulldog Interactive Fitness, a chain of fitness centres that uses video games to get children interested in physical activity.

As her business has expanded, Bond said she has remained able to run it, without an accounting background, using QuickBooks. It has saved her, she said, from the shoe box mentality of many small business owners, where all the receipts are stored in a shoe box until tax time.

“It’s something that if I can do anyone can do it, because I don’t have the time, I’m working on big ideas,” said Bond. “When you’re an entrepreneur your thinking abut how you can do this; you don’t have time to think about the details.”

Bond has been franchising the Bulldog concept and has plans for overseas expansion, including Dubai.

“Intuit is going global and we’re going global so I need them to come with me,” said Bond.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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