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DSO News: March, 2015 Archive

Waterford startup to create 65 tech jobs

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

A Waterford technology startup company will announce 65 new software jobs in Tramore today.

Three-year-old Nearform says that the new jobs, which will bring its workforce to 100, are due to strong demand for its software design services.

The company, which was founded by Waterford programmers Cian Ó Máidín and Richard Rodger, has grown to 35 people already and has landed contracts with Condé Nast, Universal, DPD UK and Permanent TSB. The new staff are to be recruited over the next 18 months, according to Mr Rodger. He said that the company will recruit software developers and designers.

“They’re high-end jobs,” said Mr Rodger. “We’ve just taken over the old offices of Waterford County Council in Tramore and plan to house them all there.”

The company also has a development office in Romania, where it has relationships with local software contractors.

Mr Rodger said that the company took a decision to stay in Waterford despite most of its clients being in Europe or the US.

“We were urged by many parties to relocate to the US,” he said. “We chose to stay here and build our company in a place where we wanted to raise our families.

“Our growth to 35 staff over the last three years has vindicated this decision. We look forward to growing in Tramore and hiring local and international expertise.”

Mr Rodger and Mr Ó Máidín also run one of Europe’s most successful specialist coding conferences, NodeConf. The pair are specialists in a software technology called Node.js.

“It lets teams of software programmers build faster, more stable, more versatile business platforms for large companies,” said Mr Rodger.

“Thankfully, we’ve established ourselves as a global expert in driving these Silicon Valley technologies into large enterprises. We’re trying to bring a greater engineering discipline to software so that it’s reliable and designed properly.

“Too often, software crashes and doesn’t work properly. We want to fix that.”

The company’s chief operating officer, Paul Savage, said that the company has not taken on any external funding.

“There are lots of innovative enterprise-tech companies outside Dublin, like us, that have grown hugely with little or no investment over the last three years,” said Mr Ó Máidín.

Nearform’s jobs growth comes a week after multinational firm Sun Life Financial announced a 50-job expansion of its operation in Waterford.

Last autumn, Waterford- based mobile software firm Feedhenry became one of Ireland’s biggest home-grown software acquisitions when it was bought for €63.5m by US multinational software firm Red Hat. Several successful Waterford startups have emerged from the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG), part of Waterford’s Institute of Technology.

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


You don’t have to let your startup gallop away from the off

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

It’s a common adage that nine out of ten technology startups fail. In the five years since I co-founded a startup, RaceCaller, I’ve had plenty of near-death startup experiences.

The issues we’ve had are probably the same ones that face lots of startups: money and momentum.

There have been times when we have had neither.

RaceCaller provides tips, chat and games around horse racing. I set up the company with my brother-in-law, Eugene Cosgrove.

For the first two years, the business was self-funded as I continued to work on the side as a digital marketing consultant. When that wasn’t enough, we took out a €50,000 bank loan.

Now I’ve read all about ‘lean startups’. Let me tell you: we were lean. We were lean to the point of being mean. Nevertheless, money was needed for servers and race data. It was needed for flights to London to meet potential clients, or lunch with someone whose advice we wanted. It was needed for work by accountants and legal professionals to keep us out of trouble.

Because money was needed by all these necessary sources, we had limited means and real progress was therefore slow. In hindsight, though, slow progress was good for us. Because we probably needed this time to learn from our mistakes.

One of the mistakes we made at the start was in not understanding what we were selling.

We began with an advertising model. But we soon realised that we would need several hundred thousand users to make this support the business.

So we revised our revenue model to take advantage of the value we were building around our ‘social data’ (meaning fan tips and comments) and our tipping games. And we created an API for each which allowed us to license these out to third party sites and apps.

Despite being based in Dublin, we always found it easier to get meetings and win business in England so we spent a few days each month there, mainly through cheap flights and staying with friends and family.

Racing UK was our first client and things became easier after that. Over the next 18 months we began working with Trinity Mirror, News International, Mail Online, At The Races, Sporting Life and Sky.

Once we had grown revenues to a level where it could support the business and pay us a (very) modest salary, I went full time on it.

It was nice to get to a stage where we had a respectable level of invoices being sent out each month. But we still felt that we were becoming frustrated with slow progress. We felt like we needed to hurry up and show more ambition.

There was an opportunity to work more closely with a few key clients. In particular, these included Sky, At The Races and News International as well as a partnership with Sportech in the US. Given the time and effort we had put into winning these clients it seemed a mistake not to be making more of them.

But given the service level agreements that we now had to commit to we needed to move the business to the next level and make sure we could deliver to the standards required.

It meant hiring a couple of the right people on design and development and investing further in our security and servers so that we could deal with busy periods where over 30,000 fan tips and comments are shared per hour. So we raised funding for the first time: €500,000 from three private investors and Enterprise Ireland in the middle of 2014.

It is a strange feeling to have money in the bank at the end of month.

But we are still pretty mean. Adding costs is easy, but adding revenue is hard. You have to stay focused.

We know what we want to achieve over the next two years to make sure we create a sustainable business and show a positive return on the investment.

Plenty will go wrong but we just need to make sure that enough goes right.

Another benefit of taking this slow approach has made us conscious of the need to manage risks. If it is going to take five to ten years (and it has already taken five) then we must make sure we are creating something of value.

We have to stay focused on building a technology business that scales from a low cost base. And, obviously, to deliver a product that race fans like.

On paper, these aspirations sounds obvious. But each of them has been much harder to achieve than we ever expected. We are still trying to find the right answers to many of them.

Public Enemy’s Chuck D, when reflecting on 20 years in the hip-hop business once said: “harder than you think. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Startups are hard, but they’re beautiful. There may be pressure to go fast, but as we have found, you can also go slow.

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

Startup gathering to showcase sector to 15,000 people

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Entrepreneurs and start-ups are being asked to come up with event ideas for the first-ever StartUp Gathering to be held during the week starting October 5th 2015

Entrepreneurs and startups across the country are being asked to come up with event ideas for the first-ever StartUp Gathering to be held during the week starting October 5th 2015.

The weeklong gathering will feature over 50 events in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, promoting entrepreneurship and showcasing Ireland’s startup sector to more than 15,000 people. The theme of the gathering is “Start, Scale, Succeed from Ireland” and it is being held in conjunction with the not-for-profit representative body for Ireland’s startup sector, Startup Ireland, and Bank of Ireland. The initiative forms part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.

Among the events already planned in October are hackers and founders team building events, diaspora networking events, entrepreneur career fairs, and a national ‘Startup Demo Day’, where entrepreneurs can pitch to top accelerators, investors, mentors and corporates, both national and international.

Stakeholders can either create new initiatives or move existing events, programme launch dates, accelerator recruitment dates and conferences to the week of October 5th. If you’re interested in submitting a proposal you can do so here.

The gathering will kick off with the first ever national conference for Ireland’s startup sector on October 5th, and will finish with a State dinner on the theme of ‘Why invest in Ireland’s startup sector’ hosted by Minister Bruton. Invitees will include senior decision makers from venture funding, corporate venturing and corporate backed accelerators from around the world as well as representatives from the startup community in Ireland.

The initiative will be organised by a national steering group composed of senior representatives of key stakeholders and chaired by Minister of State for Business and Employment, Ged Nash. In each city, a Startup Gathering steering group will be formed and led by a startup gathering city co-ordinator.

Launching the initiative Minister Bruton said: “In Ireland we have great start-ups – we just don’t have enough of them. Two thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups in their first five years of existence – that is why we are taking action, as part of our plan, to support more businesses to start-up, expand, and create those jobs that we need. We are putting in place more mentoring and incubation facilities, we held Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition to encourage start-up as a career choice, and today we are launching the Startup Gathering. Importantly, we want this to happen not just in Dublin but also in every region of the country. This is a great initiative which will build on our existing strengths to encourage more people to start a business in Ireland, and ultimately help create the jobs we need right around the country”.

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