Tag: case studies

Darragh Lynch Uccello New Frontiers programme case study

Alumni profiles: Tipping point in a search for the dream

Darragh Lynch Uccello New Frontiers programme case study

A letter from a stranger proved to be the catalyst for Kerryman Darragh Lynch, who had worked as an executive for huge conglomerates in mining, oil, and gas across the Middle East and South America for most of his adult life.

Darragh had grown accustomed to the big salary, the opportunities to travel across the world, and the high-end perks that came with his job. But after 21 years, the appeal of ‘stuff’ was wearing thin.

Darragh wanted more fulfilment in his career. As a starting point, he pursued an MBA at the University of Western Australia and started consulting. Darragh explains that the MBA would help him to “burst through my own glass ceiling. I had about 13 different projects that I was working on all at different stages.”

A friend from New Zealand was keen for Darragh to hear about a new invention his father-in-law, Andy DePetra, was working on. A born inventor, Andy was known to work on five or six things at a time. Darragh was halfway through his MBA, but this latest invention caught his attention.

Having been diagnosed with arthritis a few years before, Andy was inventing a kettle “that not only looked good but one that would ease the struggle and still enable him to maintain his independence.”

The early stages of creating a prototype for the Uccello Kettle began. It involved a month-long stay in China to find a suitable supplier for one part of the kettle. Other parts and raw materials were sourced in Germany and the UK. They also had to adhere to different regulations in each market.

“We had to get it from idea to prototype,” says Darragh. It was a steep learning curve, “because, when we did this, we were pretty new to it.” 

The Uccello Kettle – a unique tipping kettle that moves around the body of water so you don’t have to lift or balance it – helps people with impaired mobility reclaim their independence. It was initially stocked in Australian shops by partnering with distributors with strong retail expertise and large national networks.

“It needs to be something that, if you win the lottery tomorrow, you would continue to be engaged with it.”

But it was a letter from one of the kettle’s early users, indicating how much the kettle had impacted her life, that changed everything for Darragh. The project, one of many at the time, became his main dream.

“I began to think that maybe this is the thing I was looking for. The kind of food for the soul I was seeking, something I can actually make an impact with. So, I started to dive into the whole industry of disability.”

Darragh put everything into Uccello Designs and, after much research, decided to launch in Europe. He moved back home to Ireland with his family. However, having spent so many years away, with few connections in Ireland or Europe, he felt he was starting from scratch.

“We knew what we were talking about when it came to the product. We knew the product inside out, but everything else had to be developed,” says Darragh. He sought out help and discovered Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme.

“We hadn’t established a real persona for the customer; the brand and future products had to be worked on. With the New Frontiers programme, we started to think about how we can build a relationship with our customers.”

The programme also helped him launch Uccello Designs in new markets. For Darragh, the guest speakers were game-changing. “We had speakers every second week. They were high calibre,” he says. One of those speakers is now the company’s CFO and they also work with a marketing expert introduced to Darragh on the programme.

Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme gave Darragh a sense of validation, opened up networking circles in Europe, and accelerated the growth of the business.

Last year, the turnover for Uccello Designs was over €1 million. They are continuing to expand the team in Ireland and across other markets in Europe, the USA, and Asia. Plans are also underway to manufacture a product range in Ireland.

The self-proclaimed introvert is now living his dream. For other potential entrepreneurs, he suggests going for it. “It needs to be something that, if you win the lottery tomorrow, you would continue to be engaged with it.”

See the kettle on the Uccello website.

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Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

Conor Grimes Spoonful Botanicals New Frontiers programme alumnus

Alumni profiles: An epic journey towards the dream

Conor Grimes Spoonful Botanicals New Frontiers programme alumnus

A big dream can grow from humble roots. It was a trip to India after graduating from college that started it all for Conor Grimes and Jayne Gavin.

While exploring Asia, the young couple visited spice markets and saw locals using fresh herbs and spices as a way to help inflammation. It ignited a new passion that grew into Spoonful Botanical.

“They were really promoting these natural foods and natural ingredients to combat inflammation,” Conor says. He started to think of home and his grandmother who was taking medication for arthritis at the time, which was particularly tough on her stomach. “So we decided to bring back home some of the spices to see if she could get any relief from it. And basically, she started getting great results.”

Having watched how the locals ground the roots into powder, they returned home with some basic ingredients. However, it was while trying to get the spices into their grandmother’s diet that the early stages of their product, Spoonful Botanical, began to unfold.

An avid foodie and Louth footballer, Conor was always interested in nutrition. Growing up, his parents ran a food business. “It was very organic at the start. We were giving it to her in jam jars and a few of our friends started taking the product,” he says.

They developed their own fermentation process which saw them mixing and blending the roots of the ingredients and then fermenting the spices with golden raisins. The result was a chutney-like consistency, something Conor’s granny could easily work into her diet. “And it started to slowly escalate from there, we got to the stage where we had 100 people tasting the product on a regular basis,” he says.

As business graduates, the couple were perhaps destined for life as entrepreneurs. “We always wanted to have our own setup but we never really knew if it was achievable. Jayne was working in a marketing company in Dublin, we weren’t 100% sure if it was going to take off,” Conor says. It was an approach to Enterprise Ireland and their acceptance into Phase 2 of the New Frontiers programme that saw things quickly gaining momentum.

“It’s not easy to get the product to the stage where you’re presenting to retailers. But with the help of New Frontiers and that kind of environment, it makes it a lot easier…”

“The hardest part was building up that confidence. With New Frontiers, you are surrounded by people who are in similar situations,” Conor says. For him, the practical nature of the course was instrumental. “It’s not easy to get the product to the stage where you’re presenting to retailers. But with the help of New Frontiers and that kind of environment, it makes it a lot easier, even just contacts around packaging, labelling, all that kind of stuff, those contacts were given to us.”

As a team player, Conor enjoyed being surrounded by other entrepreneurs. “You’re in that kind of environment where everyone wants to help each other but everyone also wants to be the best,” he says. When they completed Phase 2 of the programme, Conor and Jayne felt their product was market-ready and decided to go for it. They now have a team of 12 and are stocked in over 300 independent health food stores and pharmacies.

A food-based product, Spoonful Botanical has become popular amongst some sports stars. “There’s a lot of sports players that take it. To have it in their diets every day, just to have it for recovery after a training session, recovering from an injury, all that kind of stuff,” says Conor.

He believes the contacts and connections made while on the programme made a huge difference. Some of the mentors they met still work with them today and they continue to use a review section on their site that one of the participants created for them while on the programme. The €15,000 stipend also allowed them to fully invest their time in the product.

Overall, Conor believes the programme gave them the opportunity to make the dream a reality. “You’re fully focused and geared up to present your product and put your best foot forward.”

To read more about Spoonful Botanical, visit their website.

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Alumni profiles: Breaking the code, building the dream

Derya Kianda TechnologiesNew Frontiers programme alumna

Alumni profiles: Breaking the code, building the dream

Derya Kianda TechnologiesNew Frontiers programme alumna

Just one in two hundred people knows how to code. That’s a lot of people around the world relying on a small pool of programmers! This knowledge gap is something Derya and Osvaldo Sousa were intent on solving when they developed their no-code application platform, Kianda Technologies, in 2017.

The dream to develop their own tech startup was 16 years in the making, but back then – as a young couple studying in Portugal – it was difficult to see how they could make it a reality. “It was a bit risky for us back then. There wasn’t a lot of support. We didn’t have great examples and so it just faded away,” Derya says.

They moved to Ireland in 2007 and worked as IT consultants. Every evening, they went home and talked about what they were working on. They realised it was similar projects for similar companies, developing the same types of system over and over again from scratch. Wanting to simplify things for businesses and create a ‘no-code environment’, they came up with a new type of process automation software that would build custom workflows using a drag and drop interface.

“Less than five years ago, we had the idea and thought it was the right time for us to start,” Derya says. “The biggest risk was quitting our jobs and in terms of income, how were we going to manage? We had some of our own savings, but of course, that wasn’t enough.”

She was also on maternity leave with their second child, who was just four months old at the time. But they felt it was now or never. “We said, if we don’t do this now, we won’t do it again,” Derya says. We have to try. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. We’d have to accept it. But we had to try. So we bit the bullet.”

The couple quit their day jobs and spent the first year working from their living room, building their platform while taking on some freelance work to help with living expenses. It was when they were completing the product build and seeking office space that the New Frontiers programme was suggested to them by the team at the LINC centre at TU Dublin – Blanchardstown.

“We have to try. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. We’d have to accept it. But we had to try. So we bit the bullet.”

“There were so many unknowns, so many things we weren’t aware of, it opened up so many opportunities for us,” Derya says. “Seeing other like-minded entrepreneurs, what stage they were at, seeing their journeys. Some of them were similar to me, some of them were just starting, and wanted to validate their idea.”

Derya found the programme very practical, “in terms of financial modelling and in terms of marketing, fundraising, networking, and hearing from the mentors.” It also helped navigate the Irish start-up ecosystem and to find out what support was available during and after the programme while receiving a €15,000 stipend.

“The mentors we had were really good. Lots of them were really insightful. It was all really practical. Real-life issues were covered. The pitching sessions were really good. Nerve-wracking but good.” She adds that she pitches “all the time” now.

It also helped build her confidence. “When we were both starting we heard some negative thoughts from other people. It really helped to build my confidence in terms of my own skills in running a business,” she says. Kianda Technologies was launched in November 2017. The company is growing quickly and has recently experienced a 40% increase in its customer base. The aim is to triple the team by the end of 2021.

Having taken the leap, Derya would encourage others to follow their dream. “It’s worth it, so worth it. If you think it’s the right time and it’s the right idea. People might say no, be prepared for it. But don’t let it stop you. Get the support that’s available, having people who have gone through a similar journey helps a lot.”

To learn more about Derya’s company, visit kianda.com

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Alumni profiles: Unlock your potential, back your dream

Ivan Tuohy Great Visitor Experiences New Frontiers programme alumnus

Alumni profiles: Unlock your potential, back your dream

Ivan Tuohy Great Visitor Experiences New Frontiers programme alumnus

For hospitality expert Ivan Tuohy, it was a trip to Alcatraz that proved the key to unlocking the potential of a dream that had languished for years.

“It really hit me that the challenges that I had in my own workplace in Ireland were actually the same challenges that many attractions and museums had all around the world,” says Ivan, founder and CEO of Great Visitor Experiences. A hotelier by trade, he was working as a general manager for one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ireland and had recently completed an MBA at the University of Limerick.

It was 2018 and new innovations in technology were transforming user experiences across various sectors, but tourism operators were still relying on traditional tools like audio guides, maps, leaflets, in-person tour guides and stand-alone signage to engage their visitors; even in the biggest tourist attractions in the world. The tools were outdated. It was the cause of much frustration for Ivan and there was no obvious fix.

For international visitors, there was also a language barrier, with about 20% of visitors unable to understand audio guides or maps. “We had limited communication with the visitor, pre-arrival, onsite and after arrival,” Ivan says. “We didn’t have any tools in place from a digital point of view to capture that data. There was no real-time commercial information to drive onsite business.”

Ivan began to look for a digital solution that would immerse the customer in the visitor experience at every touchpoint, from start to finish and beyond. It didn’t exist. He was told he could source an augmented reality app but no app could integrate all their existing assets into one place. He thought, “No way, it needs to be bigger than that. We needed to build an ecosystem with just one omnichannel where attractions, museums and activities could all live together.”

“The New Frontiers programme was a fantastic first step. It really allowed me the time to focus on the idea, and to build some structure around it.”

The tentative steps towards developing Great Visitor Experiences, an interactive app that enables operators to engage with visitors, source data, tell stories and sell more, were underway. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Ivan felt that he had the relevant skills to make it as an entrepreneur. But there were fears.

“The first big problem was not believing in myself, in my own ability. And the other real problem was quitting the job and not having a salary,” he says. “It was a case of, I might have a good idea but how am I actually going to commercialise it and bring this to reality? I might take a chance on myself, but can I really do it?”

Ivan sought support and applied to New Frontiers. Once accepted, it all became very real. The programme put him on the path towards backing himself and his dream.

“The New Frontiers programme was a fantastic first step. It really allowed me the time to focus on the idea, and to build some structure around it.” It also brought out Ivan’s competitive spirit. “You’re in the room with 12-15 people, all with very good ideas and all coming from a problem from different angles. That support, that peer-to-peer network is great. But you’re dealing with people who want to succeed. It’s fairly competitive. It was a case of, I want to help people, but I also want to do well myself.” As for the mentors, “They really challenge you. They challenge you in a way you wouldn’t challenge yourself.”

Since launching in 2018, Great Visitor Experiences has scooped major innovation awards. The company works with leading attractions across Ireland and recently launched an All-Ireland Destination Guide. The team is working closely with operators to help them get access to the platform with the choice of a subscription or ticketing partnership model as they navigate COVID restrictions.

For anyone thinking of taking the leap and following their dream, Ivan has some advice; “Don’t be afraid.” He adds, “No one is going to back you until you back yourself. So if you can back yourself, and be open to listening to people, go for it.”

Want to learn more about Great Visitor Experiences? Visit their website.

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Project One Sky Developing Wellbeing Education For Young Adults

Project One Sky: Developing Wellbeing Education For Young Adults

Project One Sky Developing Wellbeing Education For Young Adults

Depression and anxiety have been on the rise in children. The HSE reports that almost 1 in 4 young people may experience depression before they are 19. The disruption this causes to their lives and education is significant. Project One Sky is a New Frontiers startup that is changing how we help young people develop their social, mental, and physical health. We talked to founder Dr Colm Fallon to find out more.

First things first, what’s the elevator pitch for Project One Sky?

Project One Sky is a human development and wellbeing programme designed to nurture resilience and to help students cope with and flourish in the modern world. Its aim is twofold – to teach students to look after their own physical and mental health in the context of a rapidly changing social, cultural, and technological world, as well as to affect society in a positive manner by focussing on the ethical components of wellbeing.

How did your own background shape the business?

I always say this company was 20 years in the making as I had mental health issues myself as a young adult. Academically, I had always done extremely well. Until I didn’t. The result of this was I ended up dropping out of university. When I returned to education some time later, I had already decided that I wanted something more from the experience than just a job. I was studying physics at university and started travelling a lot, becoming very interested in philosophy, yoga, and spirituality. I went on to obtain my PhD in Experimental Physics, then became a post-doctoral fellow and researcher. However, I didn’t want a career as a scientist, so I became a physics and science teacher in a secondary school.

How did the idea for Project One Sky come about?

I saw that wellbeing was starting to be introduced to curriculums globally. It was superseding subjects such as SPHE, CSPE, PE, and religious education here in Ireland. I saw there was an opportunity to teach all the things I had been learning about mindfulness, personal development, resilience, and healthy choices. Essentially, I felt we could better prepare students – socially and emotionally – for life in the digital age. This is what prompted me to start teaching wellbeing at the school where I worked, and the idea of Project One Sky grew from there.

What was the early stage of the business like?

I got onto Phase 1 of New Frontiers at TU Dublin – Blanchardstown Campus in 2018, but I didn’t manage to secure a place on Phase 2 when I applied. As a result, I took a year to focus on developing my business idea. Working with two schools in particular, I developed my MVP and then re-applied for the programme, at which point I got on. Phase 2 was very intensive and a lot of hard work, but I was absolutely ready for it by that point. I was starting to build my client base when the pandemic hit, which obviously affected the company significantly. I had to pivot how the business worked and how we delivered our programmes. But going online actually allowed us to scale much faster, so I was able to increase our customer base by 500%.

I had never built a website before, so that was a learning curve for me. I managed to bootstrap the website and video editing until I could get help with it. I developed a network of experts (sleep experts, nutritionists, etc.) around the country, who could deliver the video content we needed to make the courses engaging. This is how we developed the digital workshops that were ready to be delivered in the classroom, facilitated by a teacher who can organise the time and help to lead in-class discussions.

What is covered in the programme?

I wanted to go into a wide range of topics that might be relevant for young people. I didn’t just want to cover ‘easy’ topics but get into deeper, more philosophical or challenging themes as well. There are 10 modules in total:

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Breathwork
  • Meditation
  • The natural world
  • Truth telling
  • Ethical smartphone use
  • Resilience
  • Connection
  • Positive habit forming

Everything is delivered over an online learning management platform to make it easy for the school to fit it into their timetable. There are no logistical issues, they have access to the materials for the whole year and it’s up to them when and how they use it. Our experts present their topics by video and there are additional materials to help the teachers lead class discussions and project work. We’ve also used gamification tactics to make sure that students will stay engaged.

What’s next for Project One Sky?

I’ve started to grow my team, which has been challenging in the pandemic. Right now, I’m focusing on talking to potential customers about signing up for the 2021-22 academic year as this has to be finalised before the schools break for the summer.

We’ve had excellent feedback from the schools currently running our programmes, and from students themselves. We will continue to roll out into Irish schools – both at junior cert and leaving cert level. After that, a next step for us will be getting into the UK market. Wellbeing isn’t as integrated into the curriculum over there, but it seems that schools are very receptive to this type of approach.

And finally, what key piece of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting out?

Over the past year, there were times when my own and my company’s capabilities were stretched to their limits. What helped me through those times was knowing that my project could make a real difference to people’s lives. My advice to others would be: don’t be an entrepreneur for the sake of it; rather, choose to do something that’s bigger than you. And, of course, look after your wellbeing!

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

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New Frontiers 2018 One to Watch Sponsored by AIB Magda Rzepkowska WallPee

Magda Rzepkowska (WallPee) is the ‘one to watch’ in 2019

New Frontiers 2018 One to Watch Sponsored by AIB Magda Rzepkowska WallPee

This year’s New Frontiers national networking event (held in March) featured – for the first time ever – a pitching competition sponsored by AIB. Each New Frontiers location put forward their strongest candidate, selected by their peers, who went head to head with 11 other entrepreneurs from across the country. The overall winner of this inaugural competition was Magda Rzepkowska.

We spoke to Magda about her journey so far, her startup, and her plans for the future.

Madga, tell us a bit about yourself.

Today, it seems like my previous career in the casino industry was from a different lifetime! It was steady and rewarding; until it wasn’t. In 2016, the time had come to part ways with the company I worked for and the one thing that was obvious to me was that I wanted to run my own business. I tried a few different things and after a couple of years a friend of mine showed up with the WallPee idea. My intuition told me to jump on board and I became the business head of the project in February 2018.

Where did the inspiration for the WallPee come from?

My co-founder, Greg Komsta, has worked on countless construction projects in Ireland and abroad. He identified that there was a big issue on sites that no one had addressed yet – sanitation. When facilities are provided, they will only ever be at ground level of the construction site. If a building is 10 floors high, the urinals/facilities will be placed close to the canteen, which means miles away. What can one do when nature calls but there are no toilets in sight?

Sadly, the norm would be an empty bottle at best. Considering all the advancements in this sector, we believe that sanitation has stayed far behind. Hence WallPee, a portable urinal for the construction sector and beyond!

The key to our solution is that, unlike standard portable toilets and urinals, WallPee is tank-free and waste-free. It eliminates liquid waste and because it’s much more compact and lighter than standard facilities, it can be placed in all locations. By introducing WallPee to large-scale building sites, there will be no contamination, the product will boost productivity and improve health and safety standards.

Working on product development must have been a learning curve. What was that process like?

The product development piece is where the magic happens. Greg approaches all technical things like a true craftsman, he needs to touch every part, makes endless drawings and cardboard models before any real wireframe gets made. He made three proper metal prototypes with different versions of the internal structure all by himself. When he got stuck he drew inspiration from the most surprising places, like the WallPee inlet which was designed based on a document holder.

When we moved onto outsourcing suppliers and manufacturers, we realised that our assumptions in terms of costs and timelines were far from reality. But keeping chins up and looking at all roadblocks as a learning curve is the way to go. We have had loads of fun in the process and although there is good progress every week, we still see WallPee technology development as a long adventure with different outcomes at the end.

Our previous versions were tested by builders in an off-site environment. We received very positive comments in terms of the usefulness of the device and a few suggestions related to user experience.

How do people react to your product when you tell them about it? 

Magda Rzepkowska - New Frontiers alumna - and Greg Komsta from WallPee

Magda Rzepkowska and co-founder Greg Komsta

Most people don’t even realise that there may be places like construction sites without proper facilities. If you work in an office, you have easy access to a toilet and having to use a bottle is unimaginable. We find that when talking to the general public WallPee is an eye-opener; there’s a growing realisation that in the 21st century, sanitation conditions should be better. When we talk to potential clients, we meet a lot of interest not only in the product but in the patented technology behind it.

WallPee had its world premiere at a portable sanitation exhibition in Germany last March. We opted to exhibit a testing prototype to validate the product in a place where all big European leaders in the industry show up. We not only received orders for WallPee units but interest from the leading manufacturers in the technology itself.

When will the WallPee be on the market?

We are doing all we can to be sales-ready in six months’ time. We are currently in negotiations with a manufacturer and once a factory prototype is ready with safety certificates in place we have a number of companies willing to trial the product.

We plan to deliver orders to clients as soon as possible so that we can start generating revenues and prove that sanitation standards can be much improved!

What are your plans for this product?

We do have ambitious – but top secret – plans for WallPee! A recent milestone for us is that we have been invited to join Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Startup (HPSU) programme and will certainly have the best supports available to make our plans come true.

It is important to say that construction is only where this idea was born but there is a wider scope for WallPee in the events sector, i.e. music festivals, large outdoor events and everywhere where men are present but there are no facilities. So we’re looking to target portable sanitation hire companies. They supply the construction sector as well as other industries with portable sanitation demands. The portable sanitation hire market was worth approximately €4.5 billion in Europe in 2016. In 2017, there were 143,000 portable units with 90% usage in Ireland and the UK. The market is lacking innovation while noting steady growth in demand. We believe that this is the perfect moment for WallPee.

[Featured image, l-r: Paula Carroll – New Frontiers National Programme Manager, Enterprise Ireland; Catherine Moroney – Head of Business Banking, AIB; Magda Rzepkowska – Beta Inventions; Mark Christal – Divisional Manager Regions & Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland]

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

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Featured startup Bruno Lanvin, Dmbook New Frontiers

Featured startup: Bruno Lanvin, Dmbook

Featured startup Bruno Lanvin, Dmbook New Frontiers

Dmbook Pro is a Dublin-based company providing ICT solutions for hotels. With over 10 years in hotel management, Bruno Lanvin recognised flaws in the traditional spreadsheets, paper and email communication network used in hotels all across Europe. It was this initial observation that lead to the creation of Dmbook Pro.

Bruno has worked in the hospitality industry in France, Scotland and Ireland, but he didn’t initially plan on transforming hotel communication networks. But as Front of House Manager, once having identified a problem, it was in his interest to form a solution. Hotels are an old establishment, but like every business they rely on the need for effective communication between personnel,

“I had this pain of trying to make sure the communication was efficient between all the teams and all the shifts rotating around the clock.”

Making sure the right people have the right information whilst changing shifts and working on separate teams was an everyday struggle. It was this ongoing problem that caused Bruno to develop a concept which started out very simply – an online diary, “a platform to put everything [on] where people could access information.”

Building on a simple prototype

Bruno’s brother, Rémi Lanvin, a web developer, helped create this online diary as a side project. At this stage, the online diary functioned by allowing users to simply go between dated pages (today, tomorrow, last year, next year) and input simple text entries. Particularly useful was how users could set goals and mark them as done. Bruno brought this prototype to the hotel he worked for and from here the stone that caused the ripple of interest across the hotel industry was thrown. After 18 months, whilst still working full time and developing this project on the side, Bruno and Rémi had paying customers. It was this growing interest that caused the brothers to stop looking at their creation as a project and instead as a company. They created a business plan and within one year secured 85 customers across 8 countries, including the USA.

Dmbook platform New Frontiers Enterprise Ireland

New Frontiers – direction in uncharted territories

As much as they could value their strengths, they could also recognise their weaknesses.  Bruno knew that his in-depth knowledge of hotels, although key to his success so far, would not be enough to take his company to the next goal – a multimillion euro international business. As he says, “Hotels are not start-ups,” and so Bruno visited a Start-Up Ireland event in Cove. It was here he learnt of New Frontiers and after sending his application was invited to pitch for Phase 2.

“We made more progress in the six months with New Frontiers than in the six months before.”

Bruno attributes this to the direction they received regarding finances: how to raise finance, how to approach investors, who to approach, how to duplicate the success they had had so far, and how to secure more clients. Other invaluable support included sales and marketing advice, and valuable networking – being a part of a community of knowledge for start-ups, they could ask questions and get the answers they needed, while also exchanging experiences and learning opportunities with other participants.

Going forward

Dmbook Pro has expanded from its brotherly beginnings to a company with five employees and big ambitions. With this new expertise on board, they have created a fully functioning website, are currently developing a mobile app for Dmbook Pro and are targeting English-speaking markets, including the USA. Their goal is clear: to be in over 3,000 hotels by the end of year 3 in western Europe.

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

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Eamon Crosby BriteBiz New Frontiers programme

Case study: BriteBiz – business management solution

Eamon Crosby BriteBiz New Frontiers programme

BriteBiz is a Galway-based technology company that specialises in end-to-end business management software. The company’s CEO, Eamon Crosby, took part in the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers programme in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

Since qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with PwC 12 years ago, Eamon Crosby has been involved in founding and managing a number of different companies, mainly in the service and events industry. “I had been involved first hand in managing and scaling various companies. We constantly came up against roadblocks with the amount of administration load involved and continually sought ways to streamline processes. Although we were always using modern management tools such as Salesforce and Quickbooks, there was no efficient way to integrate them and create a streamlined, end-to-end solution.” notes Eamon.

A lack of end-to-end solutions for SMEs

He points out that, “Over my years at PwC, I had worked with several large blue chip companies that used highly bespoke and integrated systems, such as SAP or Oracle, but this same streamlined process did not seem to be available for small and medium sized companies, particularly those that wanted a cloud solution.” After many failed attempts to find a better integrated cloud-based solution for SMEs, he decided to go it alone and set about developing the solution for himself – and so the adventure began.

“We developed the software in-house over a two-year period, and began to deploy it within a small number of beta customers. It really did have a hugely transformative effect, allowing companies to scale more rapidly and cut costs significantly through integrated systems,” says Eamon. “BriteBiz acts as an end-to-end solution from lead generation and capture on your website to product and service management, from quotes and e-contracts to booking management, from credit control to payment processing. BriteBiz also has many unique features not available in any other system currently on the market, such as client portals and worksheets for each individual deal, as well as resource allocation. Essentially, it takes the best parts of a CRM, project management system, payments platform and resource management and bundles them all together in a beautiful, easy to use cloud application. BriteBiz makes it easy for companies to do business, particularly companies in service industries.”

A solution that works across many sectors

After a successful deployment within the initial early adoption customers, Crosby and the rest of the team started to notice that other companies across different industries, and across the world, were suffering from the same problems and pain. The application has become a particularly good fit for the hospitality industry. “We work with several hotels and provide them with powerful tools for their sales and marketing teams to manage weddings and events,” notes Eamon.

“We knew that there was a huge potential market for BriteBiz, but there was a significant challenge in developing the correct sales and marketing strategy to achieve this. We became aware of the GMIT New Frontiers programme and decided to apply. The programme has been hugely beneficial in formulating a strategy and developing the best route to market for BriteBiz, we would highly recommend it to anyone starting off a new business, particularly in the tech sector,” says Eamon.

Britebiz is currently scaling from its Galway office and now has customers across Ireland, the UK and the US. “We are looking at bigger markets outside of Ireland, particularly the US. We are targeting the SaaS (Software as a Service) marketplace, which is estimated to reach $300 Billion by 2025. As BriteBiz also has a payment platform, we will also be targeting other high-value markets such as construction industries, the legal profession, IT and healthcare sectors. Our payment platform is currently being expanded to included digitised direct debit, and we will be working more on the payments part of our system over the years ahead, as Fintech technologies continue to develop.”

The company plans to grow its workforce within Ireland over the coming months and years. If you are a company looking for the perfect end to end business management solution, or you are looking for a role with an exciting tech company, take a look at the BriteBiz website. The New Frontiers programme at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology is delivered at Innovation Hubs in Castlebar and Galway.

[The image above shows Eamon Crosby from BriteBiz receiving the New Frontiers Best Emerging Business award from Conor O’Dowd, KPMG]

About the author

GMIT School of Business New FrontiersPhotograph by Aengus McMahonTony O’Kelly

Tony is the New Frontiers Programme Manager in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). His main expertise lies in finance, manufacturing, sales and procurement across a wide range of business sectors. He has experience in automating business processes and managing projects from conception to delivery; skills he brings to the structure and delivery of New Frontiers in GMIT…  [Read Tony’s profile]

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Featured startup Aidan Duff Fifty One Bikes New Frontiers

Featured startup: Aidan Duff, Fifty One Bikes

Featured startup Aidan Duff Fifty One Bikes New Frontiers

Aidan started his career as top level amateur cyclist in Ireland, going on to race in France for over six years. When he returned to Ireland, he naturally started working in the cycle industry, initially in retail and then moving into distribution.

The early beginnings of Fifty One, Aidan’s startup, can be traced back to a trip he took to some of the most reputable bicycle manufacturing facilities in Italy and Germany. Despite their reputations, Aidan came away somewhat underwhelmed by the standards he saw in the processes and finishing involved.

Despite the lack of manufacturing facilities in Ireland, Aidan was convinced that he could do better. With his solid industry background – Aidan had already established one of the largest distributors on the island of Ireland – manufacturing his own range of world class bicycles was the logical next step.

Custom-made in Ireland

fifty one bikes new frontiers startupIn early 2015, Aidan started Phase 2 of the New Frontiers programme, at the Synergy Centre in Tallaght. With the feedback and validation processes that the programme takes entrepreneurs through, Aidan decided that while his concept was strong, the delivery itself could be improved on. He needed to establish a real niche, a truly unique selling point. The programme is not for the fainthearted, and you need a lot of drive and motivation to take part. Market research, and trial and error, are both vital parts of the process. As Aidan put it:

“My idea was a really, really good concept, ticking a lot of the New Frontiers boxes, but when I put it out to people within the industry, the feedback was a little bit muted. People I trusted were saying: look, you can do that better than this, you need to go back and redesign it. On paper it looked good but the feedback from industry mentors and contacts was that it wasn’t enough. I felt a little bit embarrassed, because I was developing something within an industry that I knew, and here I was, a third of the way through New Frontiers and I literally had to rip it up and start again, so I started to feel a little bit of pressure at that point.”

Aidan cannot stress enough how much respect he has for his fellow New Frontiers participants. It’s a great mix of people with very diverse backgrounds, tackling projects that are sometimes very far removed from their previous experience. In many ways, Aidan was working from the safety of a known industry and well-established relationships, but he was also aware of the competitive and ruthless nature of the industry. Aidan concentrated on the elements he felt were the most important, and which would add to his core competencies:

“The great thing about New Frontiers is the unbelievable network you have at your fingertips – you come into contact with specialists you would never normally meet and certainly couldn’t afford as a startup. The New Frontiers programme is a fantastic tool for anyone wishing to start an export-oriented business. The benefits are too long to list but the course content and the structure it gives you are remarkable. It’s also a potential gateway into Enterprise Ireland CSF (Competitive Start Funding) and HPSU (High Potential Startup status), which is very useful for scaling companies.”

Following a clear plan

fifty one bikes new frontiers startupAidan says the early stages of startup are vital to get things moving. He recommends creating the best network you can as early as possible. Although no one is going to grow your business for you, you’d be surprised at the help you will get if you reach out. Define what the overall goal or mission is, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Break jobs into bite-size chunks, define a road map and tick the boxes along the way. It takes time and you will go off course on a number of occasions, but a concise plan forces you to regroup and regain focus regularly.

Aidan reiterates how ideal the structure of New Frontiers is, as it essentially sets out this roadmap and helps you overcome the challenges that every startup is bound to face at some point. It’s structured around milestones and prevents you going around in circles. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep on top of the programme work AND keep your own project progressing. Aidan says, inevitably you derail from time to time, but that’s where your support network comes into play. The course managers have seen it all before so they can advise you on where to go from there. The consultants giving the workshops are all very experienced, too. Aidan worked closely with trainers such as Alan Costello, who helped put potential problems and issues into perspective. Aidan’s accountants, solicitors, trade marking, etc. all came from people he met on New Frontiers. Aidan says the best way to overcome inevitable challenges are with skilled, passionate people by your side.

Bringing it all together

Last year, Fifty One secured substantial investment in Ireland and from an industry-specific source in Germany. This will facilitate entry into the German and overall European market and give them a little more weight with suppliers. Fifty One is also an Enterprise Ireland HPSU (High Potential Startup). The carbon fibre framesets for the bikes are manufactured here in Ireland – instead of opting for lower-cost mass production in Asia, frames are custom-made to the precise specifications of the customer. The result is a completely bespoke bike that allows the owner to be part of the design process, which ironically is how bikes used to be made when Aidan first started out. The company is also developing a customisation tool that will allow customers to design and order their perfect bike online.

Aidan has a clear long-term plan for his startup, and with the right use of technology and customer focus will achieve his ambitious scaling goals.

“In short, to scale for the first phase of our growth plan, we will need to hit our revenue and employment numbers and establish a brand in a niche premium segment. From there we will have the credibility to leverage the brand image and add additional products, territories, and revenue streams.”

www.fiftyonebikes.com

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman runs a content-first marketing agency, Engage Content, and is Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

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Tim Arits New Frontiers alumnus Intouch

Featured startup: Tim Arits – Intouch

Tim Arits New Frontiers alumnus Intouch

Tim Arits is an ex-Google, ex-chicken-breeding drummer from the Netherlands who is about to change the way we share our contact information with our networks.

Tim and his co-founder, Javier Mey, joined the New Frontiers programme in 2015 to work on their contact app, Bundly. The idea was simple – when you change something like an address or phone number, why should it be up to your contacts to update your information? Why can’t you be responsible for keeping that information up to date, and allow it to sync with your entire network without them having to do anything?

That was the inspiration behind Bundly. Both Tim and Javier had previous experience at  global names such as Google and Santander, and both had moved to a new country for work, so they had first-hand experience of having to update their contact information with multiple contacts – both personal and professional.

“When I moved to Ireland for Google, everything changed – all my contact information changed, and it was a nightmare. I think the pain is really big when you move country, because all your suppliers and the services you use are going to change. It was really hard to stay in contact with people and the companies and services I interacted with – some of which I still use – my bank, for example.”

Once their idea was formed, Tim and Javier set about developing an app that would easily manage contact information – allowing users to control what information to share and with whom. Tim applied to New Frontiers in 2015 and was offered a place on the DIT Hothouse programme. They made a solid team – Tim comes from a Marketing Management background and at Google had worked in a client-facing commercial capacity, while Javier has a background in Engineering and strong technical experience.

“We got really great support from New Frontiers. It was my first company – although Javier had founded multiple companies, so he had quite an idea already on how to do it and what the pitfalls were – but on New Frontiers we learned to bring our idea or product out to our customers as early as possible.”

Tim conducted multiple user interviews to get feedback on any problems they had with the app and what features that they were expecting. The challenge lay in translating those results into improvements to the product – building a difficult product is easy, but building something easy is usually difficult.

“We thought that some things in our product were really easy, but they turned out to be a nightmare for consumers and had to change. Then there were other things we wanted to see differently, but were apparently really easy for users – so they were things we kept.”

After New Frontiers Phase 2 was over, Tim and Javier decided to look for funding. They were in contact with the NDRC, who suggested another startup that was working in a similar field and might be interested in joining forces. The synergy between the two teams was instantly recognisable, and Tim and Javier decided to join forces with Qreach to continue developing the Bundly idea… now called Intouch.com.

“It was a really good match, because they had some skills that we were missing, and we had some skills that they were missing. They were developing a contact management application that mainly focused on companies, and they had a really strong technical background – it was the perfect balance of research-based scientists and ourselves, with our more commercial background.”

After the merger, the new team went out and raised capital from the NDRC, Enterprise Ireland and some private investors in order to push forward with the development of the evolved version of Bundly – Intouch – which is due to launch very soon.

Available to individuals as an iOS or Android app, it aims to solve potential contact issues by allowing the user to automatically update their contact information with everyone in their network – while keeping ownership of personal information with the owner. The app will be free for all personal users, with revenues coming from the companies people interact with (banks, insurance companies, etc.) who rely on having up to date information about clients.

“The app is going to be for free for users, so we’re not charging them any money, and we are looking into a model to charge companies for the data that they receive. That said, we will never, ever exchange data without your consent, so you as a user are always in control of what information goes to whom, because that’s kind of the business model that we have, and if we don’t follow that then the business is gone.”

Intouch will be working with the Data Protection Commissioners, as well as any parties that are regulated in terms of data. Data protection is clearly an important subject for the company; they even provide services to companies to get ready for the upcoming Data Protection Regulation changes in 2018. Intouch will offer clarity on who has your contact details and where this information goes – which is becoming more and more of a preoccupation these days.

“New Frontiers is one of the very few programmes focused on the very, very early-start. A lot of incubators call themselves ‘early-start’, but you still need a product or a really concrete idea… New Frontiers is also focused on the people themselves. That really suited our needs. The people at New Frontiers were amazing, they really supported us.”

And if you were wondering about the chicken-breeding I mentioned at the beginning of the article… Tim attributes the fact that Google decided to hire him to this rather unusual hobby, which came up during his interview. His Ayam Cemani birds (known as ‘the Lamborghini of chickens’) were eventually sold to a breeder in the USA, and sadly Tim doesn’t keep any chickens here in Dublin ;)

(PHOTO – from right: Javier Mey and Tim Arits pictured above with the founders of Qreach)

About the author

scarlet-merrill

Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is Editor of the New Frontiers website and founder of her own startup, Engage. She is an expert in designing and executing content strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence… [Read Scarlet’s profile]

Other articles from the New Frontiers blog

Start Up In Kerry! Emily Reen Tells Us Why Tralee Is Such A Great Location

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Turn Dreaming Into Doing! Updates From The New Frontiers Programme

Have you made any of these common startup mistakes?

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