Business software pros are increasingly targeting start-ups with promising business plans in which to invest their time and expertise. A high profile Silicon Valley entrepreneur has shunned a return to the US in favour of becoming CEO of a Bristol-based business software company.
Salman Malik, a Siebel Systems veteran, has joined the board of BrightPearl, a fast-growing hosted business software venture, that was spun out of a skateboard company three years ago.
The 41 year old said after several years of making private investments in UK start-ups and helping them grow, he had grown frustrated by the limited number of world class internet opportunities in London and was preparing to return to California.
"I was getting a bit disenchanted for opportunities in the UK for people like me – software guys with a Silicon Valley background. There was nothing that struck me as particularly compelling. I was seriously considering going back to Silicon Valley," he said.
A call from Charles Grimsdale, co-founder of venture capital firm Eden Ventures, introducing BrightPearl made him change his plans.
BrightPearl is a hosted software company that sells an integrated accounting, CRM, order and stock management, eCommerce and help desk services for a monthly fee.
It was set up by Chris Tanner and Andrew Mulvenna as a spin out from Mr Tanner's existing long skateboard company, called Lush. Mr Tanner had written the software to run Lush because he lacked the budget to buy an expensive IT system.
In May, Eden invested £1m in BrightPearl alongside Notion Capital, the venture fund set up by MessageLabs co-founders Ben and Jos White.
Mr Malik said: "BrightPearl caught my attention with an outstanding product that addresses a fundamental problem for enterprises. Businesses, particularly growing ones, lose a lot of time and money trying to adopt and manage separate, stand-alone sales, support, order-entry, accounting and e-commerce applications. BrightPearl brings all these into one, well-thought-out system that helps businesses scale efficiently. Our mission now is to get the word out globally."
Mr Malik was an executive at Siebel Systems, the customer relationship management software company that was named the fastest growing company in the US in 1999 by Fortune magazine. It was acquired by Oracle for $5.8bn in 2005, when Mr Malik departed.
Prior to that he was part of the team that founded Firefly Network, an early web-based social media site that was acquired by Microsoft. Pakistan-born, he studied electronics engineering at Princeton University in the US.
Mr Malik said operating outside of London would benefit the business. "The clarity you can achieve by being outside the hubbub of London and Silicon Valley is significant. There's a fantastic focus on what you can achieve," he said.