Oriana was originally founded in 2002 in Budapest, based on the idea that traditional software development would come to an end one day. Since then, in the late 2010’s, it’s team have created Oriana International, using an €800K seed round to develop their product.
Back in 2002, the Hungarian founders (coming from large corporations) failed to find easily customizable CRM solutions on the market. That’s how their first product Effector was born, a B2B sales lead CRM platform, which confirmed to them it was possible to create an architecture and technology that can deliver a 100% customizable software without the need for additional development.
Since then, the concept has evolved and developed so that it can be fully used for back-office and operational digitalization – which is important because companies often neglect the importance of back-office operations and the impact on the customer journey.
All in all, Oriana International is about creating a software development platform that makes customized software development simple and easy by creating reusable blocks. They are specialized in B2B backend to support daily operations: HR operations, purchase, customer service, contact center, field operation, document management – everything that is needed for the fundamentals of a business operation.
I recently had the chance to interview the Co-Founder and CEO, Richard Basa, to ask him more about their customizable solution, funding and plans for future global expansion.
Today companies are keen on building their own customized solutions, as it significantly contributes to a higher company/product valuation and helps differentiate their business models. How can you support that with your solution?
Apart from our platform which allows customized extensions to ERP processes, we have an OEM package that our clients can use to create an IP that is owned by them, can even close it off, if the software is built on unique business logic. For instance, if someone works out a business application to help law offices with a timesheet back-office solution, in a SAAS model, they will licence the platform from Oriana and can bring it to the market using its own pricing model. It’s their decision how much to charge for the content. Moreover, Oriana has a service to support our OEM clients to figure out pricing structures and even the amounts, or the go-to market strategy. It’s a clear business interest of Oriana to support our clients’ businesses growth with a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model, which allows small companies to join our platform with very affordable pricing.
Who is your ideal client or partner?
Oriana International does not tend to work with clients directly, we generally sell through partners of which we have defined 2 main types: (1) Business/IT consulting companies, where they provide the full implementation as they hold the customer relationship and understand their pains, partners can build a small software development team, so can step into a market with minimal risk and investment, using their own consulting know-how. (2) IT companies – system integrators or ERP consultants, who, currently, may not deal with application development, but with Effector can start a new business unit or add another one to their already existing portfolio with our solutions.
So what if a startup is interested in working with you?
We can help directly, and can handle them in a partner status. Our OEM model provides them with a platform to create fast MVPs and test the market. Following a successful market validation, they can then speed up the final development using the power of low-code which significantly reduces the workload compared to traditional coding.
What does your “Partner package” look like?
Our partner package contains training, application templates with source code, basic support, and a business development support as well – we can analyze our partner’s clients, organize events together, even co-finance some marketing efforts together with our partners, so they can immediately start creating demos for their clients.
How about your competition on the market?
In 2002 when we started, we did not even know how to define the industry we were in. Low-coding platforms exist since about 2005 and were defined only since 2011 by Forrester. Today these platforms are specialized, and there are 3 main directions: (1) workflow/process based digitalization; (2) mobile app development solutions; (3) core application development. Our solution is strong in the first and third category. That’s a huge advantage especially as we think the process based and core-application focused low-coding solutions will most likely merge in the future. There are just a few solutions out there to be ready for that, as the ones who can digitalize workflows are usually not too strong in connecting a unique business logic to them, and the ones who are specialized in creating unique business logic are usually behind with their workflow engines. Also there is a new emerging category prescriptive low coding platform and Oriana can be a key player in this segment. That’s where we see our competitiveness, as we are very strong in both. It is clear that the low-code market is growing, but what we see is that a solutions provider today will need a portfolio of low-code tools to serve customers rather than assume that one low-code platform will fit for all business and process problems.
What did you need an investment for and how much was it?
We’d had one company until December 2018, doing both the product development and delivery. Platform development requires a different mindset, but the running projects usually had priority over the platform development efforts, such projects took most of the resources from Oriana. We also realized that it’s much harder to scale up delivery – now we have an office in Budapest which is practically the biggest Oriana partner with over 50 employees, while scaling it up to 100-150 PAX is a huge job to do, and project risks are growing with the size. In comparison, selling licences can grow exponentially. For that reason, we decided to split the company into 2 entities: the IP went out to Oriana International, which is practically a spinoff, that’s where we have been using the money we raised, all together €800K seed round to date, to further develop the sales and marketing team and focus on the product. As mentioned earlier, we generally sell through partners, who can serve their clients with Oriana’s solutions and a new partner can be onboarded in just 1-3 weeks, depending on being a developer or a business consultant.
Are you planning any further rounds?
Yes we are, perhaps even next year, as we have a serious pipeline from many different countries, and we expect 100% growth in sales on the license side, which can also become more than that as we see today which is very impressive in B2B. That can be handled only with more resources, and for that we will likely raise a series A round next.
Who are the founders/owners? How does the management look like?
Péter Pátzay and Péter Kovács were the original founders in 2002, which was a Hungarian software development agency I joined in 2012 as a consultant and became an owner a bit later. We all came from big corporates. In 2017, Péter Kovács stepped out and I became the major owner and the CEO, while Péter Pátzay has become the CTO. We had 2 new managers joining the team recently: Mark Downey, responsible for business development and David Burtscher for the partnership management.
What’s the size of the company?
The new company, Oriana International has 15 people on board at the moment, and the Hungarian entity, Oriana Hungary runs with the team of around 50, with its own management.
I heard about your close cooperation with Microsoft. What is worth mentioning about it?
We are really proud to have been selected in several different partner programs of Microsoft, one of them is the Dynamics Connect program, where we were selected amongst 6 companies from the CEE region. We’ve created a native connection to their Dynamics ERP system and we recommend our partners to solve their problems with this solution. We are also part of their IP co-sell program, where the Microsoft sales machine also brings our solutions to the market.
How do you see your global market expansion from Budapest?
We feel that Budapest is a globally well appreciated location for technology teams, also geo-location-wise it’s a great spot, and we can find international talent in the city. It is also a great launch pad for our expansion across CEE where we see huge potential for what we do.
How should a partner or prospective client get in touch to learn more?
We have regular webinars planned where you can see the product and get a feel for how it fits your needs, which you can register for on the website. From there you can follow up with one of the business development team to discuss how to move forward. We pride ourselves on providing a high level of customer intimacy and will make sure to support you where we can.
And finally, a question that I often ask these days from busy people: what tools do you use for task management and generally to make your professional life easier?
Since we developed a platform for building business applications, we develop systems internally to suit our individual department needs. We have a CRM for managing sales, a developer application for managing the backlog of improvements and issues, and also forecasting applications for planning and budgeting. This is the beauty of low-code, in that it allows quick changes as the needs of the team change. I use OneNote for my own tasks – I even started using it for taking notes at meetings. Being a structure-freak, I used to bring big packs of dossiers with me, but they were too heavy to carry around I can completely substitute them now with this tool. I also switched to the Apple environment just recently (Macbook Pro and iPhone) and I love how much easier they make my professional life. We also use G Suite in the company and I also use Dropbox.