After several years working as an enterprise software architect, Edward Borg Grech founded Bluefort in 2014, A global software and services firm offering subscription-based solutions. Today, the company boasts a wide international clientele and, with Edward’s steady hand on the wheel, remains poised to keep moving ahead.
Edward Borg Grech, CEO of IT solutions firm Bluefort, prides himself on being a strategist, intent on keeping his – and his team’s – eyes on the goal towards further transformation of the company.
Bluefort is an independent software vendor (ISV) for Microsoft, offering subscription-based digital packages, all designed in-house. “I enjoy observing the market, our customers, and what’s happening in the broader sector and, then, converting that into a direction and designing a plan on how we’re going to get there,” he smiles.
And it seems this approach has borne fruit, for, in the eight years since the company was founded in 2014, Edward has seen Bluefort go from strength to strength.
Having graduated in Business Information Systems and, later, earning a Master’s in Software Development and an MBA from Henley, Edward has used the experience garnered from his years of working “in the lower weeds” of the software business – and later moving on to more business-related roles – to provide an offering he knew would benefit the market.
“As an enterprise software architect, I was helping customers understand the business value of using existing software with minimal customisations and aligning it to their business process, rather than getting them to build new software from scratch and re-invent the wheel. I found this to be a productive approach, and I wanted to take this approach to the next level. That’s how Bluefort was born,” he explains.
The company started out serving the local market, adapting software to the needs of Maltese firms and operating as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 partner, offering expert advice in selecting, purchasing and utilising the software giant’s applications. “However, we noticed there was a huge gap in the platform, in that it could not offer recurring engagements with customers and suppliers,” Edward recalls.
This motivated the team to create their own product suite, designing their own IP for subscription management – a product named LISA – and bringing this end-to-end solution to the 365 platform. “Our first customer came in 2019 but we really saw business rolling in from 2020, which was a very good year for us, since companies saw a greater need for our automation solutions, and we began to grow internationally,” he continues.
Today, the company focuses its business on building networks and a solid clientele based abroad. “Our customers hail from across the globe, and we also have a subsidiary in the UK which handles our British customers. The UK is one of our core markets, although it didn’t accelerate as fast as we’d hoped in 2022, principally due to the political and financial situation there,” Edward explains.
Indeed, last year proved challenging in more ways than one. “There were more competitors, our offering became more commoditised; and there were bigger companies consolidating smaller enterprises. However, we also noticed increasing demand for subscription-based services, so there were opportunities for us to capitalise on the years of experience we had, and to offer a stronger service,” he explains.
In these circumstances, the CEO pivoted the company to capitalise on growing segments. “We were able to invest the time in developing our IP further, and in increasing the number of channels through which we generate business. Moreover, last year, we were also able to return to physical events, meeting people face-to-face and explaining our solutions, which reaped more rewards than digital selling had during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Edward’s ability to enable, lead and support his team has been invaluable during this period, as well as when the company was in its infancy. “I don’t like to micromanage; I love inspiring others to work towards a goal, to get people driven towards a direction, and to keep them focused on that road. It’s challenging to make sure that everyone remains on track – probably the most demanding part of the job – but ensuring we don’t stray away from the ultimate goal is essential.”
Indeed, he sees persistence as the cornerstone of success. “All the growing pains experienced by young leaders starting out in business are just par for the course. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have had to deal with issues to do with cash flow, human resources and communications. But, you just have to keep going.”
This drive is also evident in the way Edward runs his routine – “I spend my first hour catching up on emails, since we have clients in the US” – and in his philosophy on a work-life balance. “I don’t separate work from ‘life’, so to speak, since it creates undue mental stress. I just think of it as integral to my everyday programme, and part of my routine, so just as you take care of your health and what you eat, you also need to make sure you have long- and short-term goals,” he says.
Indeed, Edward looks ahead to the rest of 2023 with optimism. “We see a very bright future for the company this year, particularly since the subscription economy is growing. This is because of the advantages it offers – such as business forecastability – with our clients being able to plan ahead based on past trends.”
In parallel, Bluefort is developing an offshoot of their subscription solution, called LISA Business, “targeting smaller clients, with a price point and functionalities catering to their realities,” Edward explains. “We’d like to focus on bringing the value we give to our high-end customers to smaller firms, and so bring our solution to the masses.”
In tandem, the CEO will drive his company to increase its global reselling partners, helping them to also grow their businesses. For, ultimately, investing in relationships – whether with his team, his clients or his firm’s international stakeholders – is what motivates Edward to keep striving to better the prospects for Bluefort – “relationships help build accountability, after all,” he asserts.
This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2023 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders
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