For the 10-person company, the choice was obvious – but not just for the cost savings. It needed to expand its business quickly, anywhere in the world, and manage product locations, ad production run schedules and services from a central platform.
The Toronto-based company has developed what it calls non-static mural advertising, which doesn’t use electronics or moving parts. “It works like a flip-book, but much more complicated than that,” said Mark Beukers, CEO of Mirage Motion Media.
If our brain is hit with more than 30 frames per second, it starts to merge those images together and perceive them as a moving image. This is the concept behind the company’s technology: as you walk past an ad, it appears as though the image is animated.
At the moment, roughly 25 countries are interested in obtaining licences for the technology, including Kuwait, Nigeria, South Africa, China, Thailand, Chile and Brazil.
“How do you create a global business with as few employees as you possibly can?” Beukers asked. “I’ve had construction companies with tons of guys and you end up working for your employees, and I’m tired of that. I want to work for myself.”
Using on-demand business management software, he can make 10 people look like 100 people. But this isn’t smoke and mirrors, he added. “We are that big – we’re just more efficient (than other companies).”
Mirage is using NetSuite to run its worldwide business operations, including financials, global purchasing, inventory, marketing, sales and business partner management.
Board members in four cities on two continents use dashboards to view key performance indicators, which has cut weekly meetings down to quarterly ones.
“I can work with a very small team of people and service a global market,” he says. “I can literally open up an office in less than a week – I just need to buy some computers, set up an office, get an Internet connection, and boom, you’re online.”
Any new licensee must get a licence through NetSuite, which allows Beukers to see into their business, and allows the licensee to place orders through Mirage’s system. Beukers can tailor any user ID so specific users can see certain subsets of data, but not others.
“Anybody who creates a new business, the first two years are all about setting that stuff up,” he says, “so this gives me a two-year leg up on any other business alternative.”
Before selecting NetSuite, Mirage used Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to track business transactions, which was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Executives in the Asia-Pacific needed to see the same information as executives in North America, said Steve Frappier, director of sales with NetSuite Canada.
“Mirage does just as much of their business in Asia right now because from a technology standpoint, the visual marketing technology push comes from countries (in the) Asia-Pacific,” he said. “They needed a single source of data they could all rely on.”
Using a hosted solution also gives them a global presence without having to hire a slew of new employees. The best way to describe it, said Frappier, is software as a service. “It’s there for you to turn on and access,” he said. It’s aimed at small and mid-sized businesses that are more interested in running their business than running software.
There’s a one-time implementation fee and an annual licensing charge, much like a subscription to a magazine. NetSuite takes care of software upgrades, as well as data backup. “Apparently it’s protected against a nuclear attack,” said Beukers. While he has an IT person who specializes in hardware, he doesn’t need a software specialist to run his business. “If I hired an IT guy, I’d pay him a lot more than $5,000 just to do the upgrades for 10 people over the period of a year.”
Mirage will have its first installation with Nokia in Toronto’s TD Centre.