Uniconta Founder Erik Damgaard. Photo: Gabriella Steyn

CAPE TOWN – There can’t be too many tech entrepreneurs out there who can really claim to have sold their app to Microsoft for a billion dollars. Erik Damgaard is one such tech deity.

He founded the original Damgaard enterprise with his brother Preben and a dedicated band of application developers and marketers with funding from a Danish pension fund. His C5, XAL and AXAPTA product family passed through several phases on the way to Microsoft ownership, namely a joint marketing venture with IBM followed by a merger with Danish competitor Navision.

Contemporary reports put the combined Damgaard/Navision share purchase price at $2b in 2001 just (a few months before 9/11) and these products now form the ERP core of Microsoft’s newest cloud deployed Dynamics 365 solutions.

Fast forward 17 years and Damgaard has decided to reinvent his 1980s vinyl collection – backed by Danish pension funding – once again. He has taken a look at what Microsoft have done to his brainchild in the intervening years and decided to keep the best and ditch the baggage.

By distilling and simplifying the critical operational aspects of SMBs, Erik has been able to bring his “unplugged” album to market at about quarter of Microsoft’s prices. Well, not exactly unplugged of course – more like wireless.

Like the bigger players, this is a cloud based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering where the programme and data is somewhere out there, rather than in an expensively air-conditioned server room. But Damgaard is not an app god for nothing.

Having observed that these much-hyped SaaS applications are rather boring to look at and snail-paced in use, he brought some genius into play and designed a cloud-based hybrid combining the best of everything. Put simply, the programme and data are safe, secure and comfortable in the cloud and the power-hungry graphical interface operations use your PCs many Intel cores for speed.

This new vinyl opus is called Uniconta and the result is spectacularly fast and pleasant to use, without suffering from the snore-factor that accompanies most current cloud ERP products. Quite apart from being quick in deployment and operation, the positioning of a product is crucially important.

Erik Damgaard’s originals were the “disruptors” of their day, taking on the Oracle, SAP and Sage oligopolies and eventually – with a little help from Microsoft – besting all off them.

So this shiny new ERP system should be just the thing to attract any upcoming entrepreneur, start-up, disruptor and bored company as a potential customer.  Looking down the road, might he tempt an Apple, Sage, SAP or Microsoft with a few billions to spend?

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