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DSO News: October, 2014 Archive

YellowSchedule strikes gold, secures €600,000

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Irish IT startup Yellow Schedule has secured €600,000 in funding from angel investors and will launch a new app at next week’s Web Summit.

he firm, which provides scheduling and customer relations management software to its clients, plans to increase its staff from eight to 20 in the coming months.

Its clients include the University of Manchester, the City of Dublin Enterprise Training Board, Axa Financial and GoDaddy’s employee assistance programme. More than 400,000 appointments have been made through the system since its launch.

One of the investors is UK-based Sean Riddell, a former chief executive and head of marketing at listed IT healthcare company Emis.

Are you are looking for a serviced or virtual office in Dublin City Center or Dun Laoghaire, call us at Dublin Serviced Offices on 01 2020212

Deadline appoaches for AIB Start-up Academy

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Ten finalists to be shortlisted in November for eight-week programme

This Friday is the deadline for applications to take part in the AIB Start-up Academy, a partnership between The Irish Times and AIB to support entrepreneurs across Ireland.

Applicants must be over the age of 18, resident in the Republic of Ireland and have a business with revenue of less than €400,000 per anum that has been in operation for less than 36 months. Ten finalists will be shortlisted in November to participate in the eight-week programme.

The Start-up Academy will begin next January and aims to provide entrepreneurs with the skills and information needed to grow their business. Participants will leave with tailored business plans, robust financial plans, an overview of appropriate legal documents, a blueprint internet marketing plan and a guideline sales plan.

One winner will be selected at the end of the programme and awarded the ultimate start-up package. The prize will include €50,000 worth of print and online advertising from The Irish Times and €90,000 of advertising spend from Joe.ie and Her.ie. The overall winner will also get digital and social media mentoring with AIB’s head of digital and innovation.

The closing date for entries is midnight on Friday, October 24th. Start-ups can apply to the academy at www.irishtimes.com/business/aib-start-up-academy

Are you are looking for a serviced or virtual office in Dublin City Center or Dun Laoghaire, call us at Dublin Serviced Offices on 01 2020212

Ireland’s million-mile man moves into sales and startups

Monday, October 20th, 2014

They used to call Liam Casey Mr China. Soon, they might have to call him Mr Global. The Cork-based businessman, famous for growing a cutting-edge supply chain manufacturing operation in China for technology companies, is spending more time juggling bases in other parts of the world, notably Cork and San Francisco.

It’s not for the love of air miles, either. His PCH firm, believed to be close to $1bn in revenue, is now getting into retail and startup-incubation to add to its already-formidable manufacturing set-up.

In other words, as well as being the go-to guy for getting an electronic gadget made in China, Casey is also now the person to talk to about distributing and marketing it, especially in the United States.

That is reflected in a deal signed with the major US retailer Radioshack, giving PCH-incubated startups a route to market through 2,000 Radioshack stores. Some of those startups, like Dubliner Ben Harris’s impressive ‘smart scales’ firm Drop, are Irish.

Many are now spending time at Casey’s Highway One incubator facility in San Francisco, too.

So it seems a little out of date to label Casey a ‘manufacturer’.

“We do everything except for the industrial design,” he says from his office in California.

“It’s been a phenomenal growth period for us. In Highway 1, for example, there’s no way we thought we’d see graduate companies raising $7m on ‘demo days’ from top venture capitalists, but they are.

“And most of these startups are now out raising more money and shipping products. We’ve had 35 companies going through it so far, with 250 applications per batch.”

The San Francisco-based incubator works through startups entering an intensive programme for several months, from which they receive some capital investments and expedited manufacturing processes or routes to market. In exchange, PCH retains a small piece of equity.

“From Highway 1, they have the option of graduating into PCH Access where we help them scale, ship a product. We look after all the manufacturing, engineering and packaging. Sometimes we sell it on our Blueprint store or elsewhere, such as RadioShack.”

A cursory glance at international press might suggest that the technology world is one chiefly dominated by software and mobile technology companies. Whether it’s $20bn Whatsapp acquisitions $100m funding rounds for Stripe, it’s a programmers’ platform.

But that’s not the full story, says Casey.

“If you look at it, great hardware devices are made up of fantastic software in a box. The software has to be great, yes. But the box has to be beautiful, too. That’s why design, for us, is so important. We put time into shaping it. It has to be beautiful.”

Recent developments bear this out. The ‘smart’ thermostat and smoke alarm maker Nest was bought by Google in a $3bn deal last year, while the gaming virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus Rift was acquired for $2bn earlier this year. “Lots of people want to jump into hardware but the biggest issue is actually to fix distribution,” he says. “Manufacturing is not going to change, it’s the impact in distribution that is the next challenge.”

Casey thinks that being a “platform” is now what it’s about.

“You have to look at all the different parts and pinpoints. This has taken a long time to put it together. There are still a few more pieces.

Striding a spit geographical empire does require considerable endurance in some respects, however. Casey chuckles when I ask him about George Clooney’s jetsetting character in the film ‘Up In The Air’.

“That guy didn’t fly,” he says. “Seriously, I’d say that yes, it is a lot of flying. Last year I flew about 350,000 miles, somewhere in the region of flying around the world 11 times. Some years it’s 400,000 miles. It’s a lot of long, long flights. ”

Does it get lonely?

“It is what it is,” he says. “If you start becoming too aware of it, you have a problem. But for me, I’m surrounded by people almost all day, from early in the morning to late at night. Partly that’s because I’m on calls non-stop due to the time zone differences between San Francisco, Cork and China.”

He says that the Irish are slowly making their mark in Silicon Valley.

There are two names you hear out here,” he says. “The Collisons are huge. Everybody loves them. But the other one is Paddy Cosgrave. Honestly, I hear it a lot. The Web Summit has been a phenomenon in raising awareness of Dublin and Ireland in the Valley.”

With this exalted view of the manufacturing world, Casey is in a good position to differentiate trends from fads. Despite the hype, he thinks that ‘wearables’ (such as smartwatches) and ‘internet of things’ gadgets (such as smart home appliances) are definitely not fads.

“No, it’s a real thing,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot of stuff in that space, both through Highway 1 and through what other companies are making. There’s an awful lot happening in the internet of things space, particularly. And these companies are getting funded.”

First and foremost, though, such gadgets need to be desirable. This is where Casey’s former career in the fashion industry comes in handy. He is acutely aware of the need to not only have swift, flexible manufacturing processes, but to make good-looking things.

“It’s hugely important, especially now with the whole area of wearables,” he says. “The real way to look at wearables is that it is fashion embedded with tech rather than the other way around.”

Apple, he says, have gotten it right from the beginning.

“When you pick up an Apple product, you want to hold it,” he says. “That’s where wearable stuff needs to be. You can’t have stuff taht people will be uncomfortable wearing. Great tech disappears into the background.”

Although client confidentiality prevents him from divulging most of his clients’ identities, it is well known that PCH has worked with companies such as Apple and Beats in the supply chain manufacturing of those companies’ products and gadgets. A current product is Neil Young’s ‘Pono’ digital music player, pitched as a high-end alternative to current MP3 devices that have low-grade, compressed media files.

Meanwhile, Casey’s whirlwind around the world continues. On the weekend directly preceding the Web Summit (November 1st to 3rd), PCH is holding a ‘hardware hackathon’ in Dublin City University. The event is aimed at encouraging engineers and programmers to get creative in conceptualising “the next big thing” in hardware.

“It will have capacity for 100 entrepreneurs, product designers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and developers from across Ireland,” said Casey. “People can collaborate from concept stage to final pitches.”

Are you are looking for a serviced or virtual office in Dublin City Center or Dun Laoghaire, call us at Dublin Serviced Offices on 01 2020212

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