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Flintfox launches new software product that could make it better known at home

Flintfox International, a software development company that specialises in trade relationship and promotions management, is about to launch a new product that could finally see it become more well-known in its own backyard.

Until now the New Zealand-based company founded in 1987 has had little profile here because its products have been sold predominantly in North America to larger consumer goods companies with revenues over the $500 million mark. It has only one New Zealand customer, food manufacturer Tasti Products.

It was named in the latest TIN100+ list on the high tech business sector as one of ten hot emerging companies with 2013 revenue of $8.7 million, 31 percent annual growth, 30 staff, and offices in Auckland, US, Canada and the UK.

Chief executive Mike Ridgway, who bought into the company six years ago, said it was about to get more active in the New Zealand market with the launch in a few weeks of a new pricing engine for e-commerce that was developed with the help of a $158,000 Callaghan Innovation research and development project grant last year.

Ridgway claimed its nprice product is 800 times faster than normal pricing engines and allowed companies of all sizes with e-commerce websites to change their pricing strategy online as quickly as they would in a bricks and mortar store. He said the new engine seamlessly integrated with legacy ERP (enterprise resource planning) platforms.

Flintfox was founded by Paul Coote who has retained a one third shareholding along with Ridgway and the company also has a cornerstone American investor with 25 percent. Ridgway, a former chief executive of Nasdaq-listed Brocker Technology, said when he arrived six years ago the company had no sales and marketing staff - it was all software developers. While that meant relying on others to sell its products, it also meant the company had developed a solid engineering platform that remained its competitive advantage.

Ridgway changed the company's focus from having one main customer that onsold its products to selling direct to manufacturers itself and working within the Microsoft ecosystem. He said Microsoft bought the story it had a gap for trade promotions in its Dynamics line of ERP and CRM (customer relationship management) applications.

Flintfox is now one of only 20 companies worldwide to be validated as a Microsoft independent software vendor, which gives it both credibility and a channel to market. It also sells independently of the IT giant through a range of global partners and its Microsoft-certified products can be used with other ERP systems. "We have to be independently successful," Ridgway said.

Describing software solutions is enough to make your eyes glaze over until you consider what problems they actually fix. In the case of Flintfox's trade promotion management and trade relationship solutions, they help manufacturers monitor their trade promotions which they spend between 8 and 30 percent of their revenues on. Next time you go into your supermarket, look at any of the products on the shelf and think how the manufacturer considers how much and when to discount the product and to which customers. Flintfox helps them figure out which promotions are most effective and more importantly, what would might work better next time.

When you consider the amount of options consumers have on store shelves, this type of feedback becomes crucial for the manufacturer to stay competitive. They also need to keep track of any rebates they've offered retailers so they don't get an unexpected financial hit at the end of the year.

"Some of our customers won't refer to it as trade promotions management but if you say does the company need to differentiate its pricing and monitor the success of the rebates and promotions and then they go 'oh yeah, that's a problem'," Ridgway said.

Tasti Products was an innovative user of the products, including using the analysis to forecast and anticipate its manufacturing requirements, raw materials and human resources, he said. "You have to use the information you have, otherwise all you have is data and no knowledge," he said.

BusinessDesk receives funding from Callaghan Innovation to write about commercialisation of innovation.