‘It gives you a competitive advantage’: Sowvital founder says adopting cloud ERP early helped his business skyrocket 

“NetSuite has given my business visibility and control”

‘It gives you a competitive advantage’: Sowvital founder says adopting cloud ERP early helped his business skyrocket 

“I always loved plants as a kid,” Jack Lewis, founder of Sowvital, tells me. “I’d get dropped off at my grandfather’s house during the summer holidays to help him grow tomatoes and vegetables in the garden. Plants are these magical, wonderful, beautiful structures that just sort of take care of themselves, and if you add that bit of extra care, they can really blossom.” 

Capitalising on the growing trend of online plant sales, and the rising popularity of plant ownership since the pandemic, Sowvital launched in the summer of 2022. Borne out of Lewis’ love for nurturing house plants and understanding how the right nutrients can help them thrive, Sowvital is on a mission to help plants flourish. 

In 2019, when the idea for Sowvital began to take shape, Lewis became fixated on the idea of how to not only launch a business but also make sure it runs efficiently so that it can be profitable more quickly. He drew inspiration from friends and fellow business founders who had been there and wanted to know: What were the pain points they had experienced when scaling? What would they do differently if they had the chance again? 

One challenge that was highlighted multiple times was not having full visibility across the business. It’s that fear of not knowing what you need to know at the moment you need to know it. For growing businesses, making fast decisions can mean the difference between success and failure. 

Having one view into your business was not going to be possible by managing multiple spreadsheets. So Lewis made a move early on to adopt a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. One solution came up several times throughout Lewis’s conversations – Oracle NetSuite. 

“I chose NetSuite very early, based on endorsements from friends and contacts, and the fact I could learn to scale my business with the best practice processes within NetSuite,” Lewis tells me. “When planning, I heard and saw many examples of businesses that had not thought about an ERP or business management system. I saw it as similar to purchasing a car that’s only got two gears. Spreadsheets and Google docs are fine at the start, but as you start to take off if you’re motivated and have a vision for your business, things change. It’s like with a car, when you get to the ring roads and you see lorries and vans coming and you think, you need to go down to the gears to handle this – but you only have two gears. It’s the same concept.”

Because he used NetSuite early on, when the business was growing the system had the flexibility to grow with it rather than make it harder. Having one integrated system helped his team source and store all company data safely and securely under one roof, leaving less room for error and also allowing for smoother day-to-day running of the business. “With NetSuite, there is less chance of things messing up when it comes to regulatory filings and fewer chances of huge complex exercises by accountants when they try to figure out what went wrong,” said Lewis. “What’s good is that NetSuite was designed based on millions of hours of experience on how companies are run.”

Lewis concedes that NetSuite is an investment for such a young business but has already saved Sowvital from a lot of growing pains less than a year after its launch. “Having a system like NetSuite from the get-go gives a competitive advantage,” he said. “It’s not easy, and it is a commitment. But when you look at the real investment, it’s time. We’ve been able to invest time in learning how NetSuite works, doing the training, and cleaning up all the data upfront, to benefit from efficiencies and time-savings as we grow. I couldn’t recommend NetSuite enough; I think it’s something that we are lucky to have.” 

With the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation, supply-chain issues and energy costs, businesses are struggling. But Lewis praised NetSuite for giving him clarity over day-to-day operations, allowing him and his team to scenario plan and manage the trajectory of the business.

“NetSuite has given my business visibility and transparency. What’s so important in business and scaling is that it’s not all plain sailing. The key is that if you’re serious about your business being successful you need to face the music. Always look at your data. There’s no hiding from it. If your demand is down, you need to be aware of that. And that’s the best part of NetSuite, it’s like having a dashboard on your car. You can’t ignore the red lights. You can see all the pain points there with its user interface. It shows you everything.”

Latifa Yedroudj
Latifa Yedroudj

Share via
Copy link