Joel Foster is the CEO and co-owner of Foster Moore International, an IT company specialising in the development of electronic registries purpose-built to meet the statutory and service needs of legislative and governmental agencies.
Joel recently talked to us about Foster Moore, and how he has found working with Simmonds Stewart.
After beginning his career as a software architect and developer, Joel started working for a small registry consulting firm of 38 staff, working onsite for the Ministry for Economic Development (now MBIE), in 2003.
After Joel and co-owner Chuck Moore took over the business in 2008, they were keen to grow the company and look to overseas opportunities.
Foster Moore was then established and in order to grow, they undertook research into their international prospects. Although some other countries and states had online registry services, their research identified there were no registry software products commercially available at that time. They also found that government departments were spending huge amounts of money on building customised registry solutions and then having to invest more money to upgrade them every 5 to 10 years.
Jumping on this opportunity and securing timely funding from Callaghan Innovation, Foster Moore began developing Catalyst, a universal registry product designed to be installed, customised and configured for each jurisdiction, and which can be upgraded with new functionality added on an ongoing basis.
Initially, Pacific Island nations such as the Solomon Islands and Samoa were early adopters of Catalyst. Foster Moore worked with the Asian Development Bank to create registries in those developing nations. This in turn helped raise the company’s profile, get some market share and prove implementation. Its work also contributed to growth in those economies, as its online registries provided confidence to the investment community to lend and invest.
As well as these successes in Canada, Foster Moore has now provided its Catalyst product to government bodies in the US, Asia, Pacific, Africa, and the Middle East. Teranet, a Toronto based electronic land registration company, also invested in Foster Moore and brought in-depth industry expertise and knowledge.
In just 9 years, Foster Moore has grown to just under 200 staff, servicing customers in over 26 countries or jurisdictions. Of course, Joel says that the next phase is to push their product and continue to grow while continuing to provide high quality support to their current customers.
Acquiring and managing talent to meet continuous business growth, as well as working in multiple jurisdictions, has been a constant challenger for Foster Moore. The success of other big software companies based in Auckland such as Orion Healthcare and Xero has not made the hunt for talent any easier.
While government clients tend to pay on time, they also have very long sales cycles. Each government tender that Foster Moore responds to is a significant exercise, particularly in the US market where the company competes with industry heavyweights like IBM and Deloitte. Managing resources and cash flow through these processes has been a learning experience for Joel and the team.
Prior to working with Simmonds Stewart, Joel had plenty of experience working with lawyers. He says that he looks for lawyers who focus on risk mitigation, intellectual property protection, use plain English, and have a good understanding of how the business works and how its projects are delivered.
Foster Moore and Simmonds Stewart first started working together in the 18 month period leading up to the Teranet investment. Victoria Stewart advised on the company’s customer contract negotiations and Julie Fowler advised on the Teranet investment.
The majority of their legal work has been delivered by Victoria. Joel was introduced to Victoria when she was on the other side of the negotiating table to him, and he was impressed by her abilities. He says Victoria learnt about the business very quickly and became a trusted business partner and advisor, not just a supplier. Joel says he likes to be able to go to sleep at night with the right level of legal comfort, I know I can rely on Victoria’s advice. She will pinpoint the risk and not be afraid to say don’t sign that. She is also happy to share her knowledge with the business so they are learning with every deal they execute.
Joel and Victoria recently worked together on the now successfully executed deal with a consortium of major North American government departments. Not only was it challenging from the perspective of doing business in a new jurisdiction (Victoria and Joel travelled to North America for negotiations) and with multiple moving parts to the deal, but Joel and Victoria faced a large team of lawyers working for the other parties. Joel says that Victoria’s efforts on this deal were amazing; she worked extremely hard and did the very best for Foster Moore. She made the overwhelmingly huge process and endless documentation seem absolutely under control, and we came out of the negotiations protected, aware of the risks and with a solid partnership established with the agencies – even they noted they were impressed with Victoria.
In addition to Victoria, who Joel says just goes above and beyond, not only applying her business acumen to legal issues but working holidays and weekends to get the job done, Joel also notes that Simmonds Stewart are great people, who you can trust and get on with, as well as being trusted business advisors.
Foster Moore has built a global business out of helping government departments replace their paper based systems with the Catalyst online registry, reducing costs, and speeding up processes.
Simmonds Stewart is delighted to have supported Foster Moore through its spectacular growth and looks forward to seeing it take its world class registry product and services all over the globe.
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