On demand dispatch delivers success for WeBringg

When Alan Hickey forgot his wife’s birthday, it seemed like a disaster. In fact, it turned out to be a very good thing indeed. It gave him the idea for WeBringg, an on-demand crowdsourced delivery service.


Hickey set up the business with co-founder Sean Murray after a discussion about whether or not a delivery company already existed that could save the day by allowing him to buy a present online and have it delivered immediately.

Not possible, said Murray. Why not? said Hickey, in what proved to be their eureka moment.


WeBringg connects retailers and consumers

Hickey was a financial broker, while Murray’s background was in app development. While still employed in their day jobs, both worked nights and weekends to develop a crowdbased delivery platform to connect retailers and consumers.

WeBrinng co-founders

Martin Daly, LEO Fingal with WeBringg co-founders, Alan Hickey and Sean Murray

They launched in 2016, doing deliveries for local retailers themselves before landing a partnering deal with restaurant delivery operator Just Eat.

To support its growth, Local Enterprise Office Fingal referred WeBringg to Enterprise Ireland, who identified it as a High Potential Start Up. With its support, the company raised seed funding of €850,000.

What appealed to investors was its compelling offering. “If you wanted to be the largest logistics delivery business in the world, you would need billions of euro. The other way is to build and sell robust scalable software to any retailer in the world,” said Hickey.

“Rather than provide either an off the shelf delivery service, or an off the shelf software as a service (SaaS) product, we wanted to really partner with retailers.”

Providing dispatch software, operator services and consultancy allows it to differentiate itself in the markets it operates in.


Simplifying logistics for retailers

“We totally ‘get’ dispatch because we are a hybrid model spanning every vertical, through to last mile delivery, which we can do direct or through third-party delivery partners. And we help large-scale retailers, who have thousands of vans on the road, to optimise their existing fleet.”

It wins its business by understanding that retailers are expert at marketing and selling products, but not at logistics or last mile delivery. “So let us be that expert,” he said. “Last mile delivery is a totally new area of logistics. We have an opportunity to set the global standard for it.”

Today WeBringg operates in the UK, Spain, Australia and New Zealand and has a team of 38 staff, and more than 1000 independent drivers worldwide.

It has an annual run rate of €5 million a year and three revenue streams – providing crowd sourced deliveries directly to consumers, including for Just Eat; partnering with retailers such as Musgrave to provide dispatch technology; and providing data driven consultancy services to the retail and delivery sectors.


Working with Enterprise Ireland to go global

Working with Enterprise Ireland also helped WeBringg to develop its board, which it did by taking on experienced non-executive directors. “If we wanted to be a big global company, we had to start thinking like one,” he said.

While the UK was the business’s obvious first choice for exports, the Brexit vote provided an unexpected challenge. “With Brexit, we needed another market to expand into. Lots of companies go the Eurozone route but for language and cultural reasons, we decided there were more opportunities for us in Australia and New Zealand.”

Funding assistance for market research trips helped, including participation on an Enterprise Ireland trade mission to Australia. Being part of a high-level governmental trade delegation proved invaluable.

“We were able to take the CEO of Menulog out to dinner at the Sydney Opera House,” he said.

 “A dinner is just a dinner, but when you are introducing people to your Minister for Trade and Enterprise and the President of Ireland, that’s worth so much more.”


Partnering with the largest food ordering platform in Australia

WeBringg subsequently signed a partnership deal with Menulog, the largest food ordering platform in Australia, and opened an office in Brisbane.

In June 2018, it acquired Spatula, a spin-out of the University of Western Australia. “We knew we needed to take the software global and that we had gaps in our technology. These guys had unbelievable dispatch software but were not commercial,” he said.

Spatula has helped bring seamless real-time tracking for customers, enabling WeBringg to perfect its infrastructure as it grows, accelerates and expands worldwide. “It’s now our entire tech team, all our development comes from there,” he said.

WeBringg has continued growing in the UK market too, recently setting up a UK subsidiary in Scotland, to help mitigate the risk from Brexit. “If there is a hard Brexit we can transfer all the trade into that subsidiary.”

All along the way the company has benefited from a variety of Enterprise Ireland and Local Enterprise Office supports, with mentoring, funding, guidance and advice. Murray participated on a CEOs’ retreat too and that kind of networking is invaluable too, said Hickey, “because, if you haven’t experienced something, you can be sure someone else has.”


PM Group and Diversification Success

After recession drove PM Group to look further afield, it didn’t look back

PM Group is an Irish headquartered, international project delivery company, operating in Europe, the USA, and Asia. The company has a 45-year track record in project management, process design, facility design, and construction management for leading multinational companies.

A decade ago, things looked a little different, business development manager John Brophy told delegates at Competing for the Future, a panel discussion which took place at the RDS in Dublin as part Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week.

In 2007, the recession left PM Group faced with a diminishing home market. At the time, it had offices in Ireland, the UK, Russia and Poland, but the majority of its work was Irish based and, therefore, highly exposed to the construction downturn here.


PM Group expands to mainland Europe

“In order to diversify, we had to look out and mainland Europe was a very accessible market,” said Brophy. “We focused initially on Belgium, which was a massive market for many of our customers. We went out on a project by project basis with our customers.”

It opened an office in Brussels and has continued to grow there right up to today. Earlier this year, it acquired a company in Belgium which it has brought into PM Group.

“That gives us a greater presence. Most of our customers don’t want a single project, they are looking for continuity of relationship. So you need to be on the ground. You need to have people who can speak the language and you need to be able to service them time and again.”

Establishing partnerships with locally based companies has been an important part of its export strategy over the past 11 years, helping to guide it through language barriers, differing tax, visa, planning, permitting and other regulatory rules.


Forming strong local partnerships

“As an Irish company, we have found that we are quite good at partnerships, and if you form partnerships and alliances with local companies, you share your workload but they also help you to deliver and be successful for your clients,” said Brophy.

“You can’t go in and disrupt a market and say ‘We’re the best’. You need to work in partnership and understand how things are done. They are never done exactly as they are at home and you’ve got to learn very fast throughout a project. Local partners help with that.”

In recent years, PM Group has been taking action to mitigate the risk of Brexit.  The UK has already seen a slowdown in business investment since the Brexit vote, he said. “We work in capital projects, so it tends to be at the forefront of what people are deciding strategically for their business.”

Rather than diminish its footprint in the UK however, PM Group has responded to Brexit by growing its UK presence, acquiring a company there and adding two new offices, in Manchester and Edinburgh, “Because no matter what, the UK is a big country and you need to have a regional presence,” he said.


Diversification strategy

The Group has also diversified sectorally, including into chemical and petro chemical sectors, which the recent acquisition will help it service, he said. “So we have widened what we can do.”

Its UK acquisition is also helping it with its overall talent pool needs, creating a fresh and valuable new pipeline that can be fed through to the rest of the organisation.

Not every decision in relation to exports strategy will be correct, he said. PM Group moved into some markets, such as Russia and the Middle East, from which it subsequently departed. “By and large though, where we chose to go was good,” he said.

Any overseas expansion comes at a cost however. “It took a huge stretch on the management team. We sell a service, so the important thing for our customers is that the service they get around the world matches the service they get here, so we had to put people in the field. Finding the people was a challenge. We now have a local manager in China, Belgium and Poland, and that’s where we have got to in terms of maturity.”

Finding staff is only ever the start, it’s finding customers that counts. “It’s hard,” said Brophy. “You really have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. You can’t go in there and say ‘We’re here, isn’t that good enough?’”

Today, PM Group has 17 offices around the world and works in high-tech sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, data centres, and food. All through this overseas expansion, investing in innovation has enabled PM Group to differentiate itself, as has its ongoing commitment to staff training.

“We have a lot of subject matter experts now. You have to be the best. You have to be someone who is sought after because price isn’t the only factor. It’s about being sought after and being able to offer a service that maybe they can’t find locally.”

Learn how Enterprise Ireland supports business to diversify with the Market Discovery Fund.



DeviceAtlas makes sense of the world’s mobile traffic

Irish start-up DeviceAtlas emerged from humble beginnings. It began life with four employees and a borrowed internet router, working out of a one-room office above a travel agent on Dublin’s Dawson Street.

The company may have started small but it had a big vision – and a steely belief that the world was going mobile. It may seem obvious now but back in the pre-iPhone days of 2006 nobody could tell how far mobile technology would go, and how fast the device population would grow.

DeviceAtlas knew what was coming. The company was formed as part of the dotMobi domain initiative, with a mission to take the pain out of device diversity. It was a tough sell in the beginning, not least because most companies had yet to experience that pain.

“That was probably the biggest bump we faced in those early days, a lack of belief that the technology would evolve to this point,” says DeviceAtlas CTO, Ronan Cremin. “Companies just didn’t believe that they’d need this sort of help.”

Becoming one of the world’s foremost providers of mobile device data

As the technology exploded, and devices began to proliferate, the vision started to make sense. “Of course, all the things people said would never happen have now happened, but the lack of faith was a big obstacle,” says Cremin. “We trusted in the vision though, we had complete belief in what we were doing and that made sure we never got knocked off our path.”

Today, DeviceAtlas is one of the world’s foremost providers of mobile device data. The company supplies detailed information about the nature and capabilities of connected devices – as of today, they cover more than 50,000 different devices – to give clients deep insights into their mobile traffic and usage patterns.

The company accumulates data from a global network of websites and apps that monitor traffic and identify devices that have not been seen before: some 50 to 60 new devices are launched every single day. It is exactly the scenario the company envisaged a decade ago, when they were knocking on doors.

“All connected devices have different characteristics and different capabilities so for any company trying to keep track of them all, it’s a headache – it’s messy,” says Martin Clancy, the company’s marketing chief. “Our mission is to recognise what each device is and what it can do, and in that way bring order to chaos for our clients.”

Growth has been smooth and steady over the past decade, but the company still acknowledges the foundational role played by Enterprise Ireland, which stepped in to provide funding for early-stage R&D  recruitment. “Thanks to Enterprise Ireland, we were able to hire the right people who could build the technology quickly, which was critical to our launch plan,” says Ronan Cremin.

“The funding was the obvious one but Enterprise Ireland also gave us lots of advice and guidance that was really helpful,” he says. “For example, when we were trying to break into the Chinese market they added heft to a lot of introductory meetings as well as giving us tips about adapting to the local culture. Small but invaluable things that made a difference.”

DeviceAtlas clients include more than twenty Fortune 100 companies

These days, DeviceAtlas needs little introduction. The company counts nearly a quarter of the Fortune 100 among its client roster – with companies such as Adobe, Amazon, AOL/Oath, Appnexus to take just the start of the alphabet – and estimates that its technology is used by “most of” the Fortune 1000 via its OEM customers. Incredibly, some 1 in 3 of all digital ads are underpinned by DeviceAtlas.

From four people, the DeviceAtlas team has grown to more than 50 – a rising total that includes an impressive 18 nationalities so far – serving customers in 56 countries worldwide. And as ever more devices populate the landscape – not just smartphones but game consoles, TVs, watches, speakers, anything connected – there appear to be no limits to what the future holds.

“The direction of our industry is clear – everything’s getting smaller,” says Ronan Cremin. “Mobile technology is sinking into the woodwork, if you like, it’s becoming invisible. One of these days, you might open your box of Cornflakes and find a free mobile connected device in with the cereal!

“I know it sounds far-fetched and we’ll have people telling us ‘It can’t be done’, just the same as they did when we were starting out,” he goes on. “But in this business you can’t rule anything out. There’s a line in the movie Jurassic Park that I always remember: life finds a way. Well, technology will find a way. And probably sooner than you think.”

Languages Connect logo

The importance of multilingualism

The drive for new markets shines a light on the importance of multilingualism. Julie Sinnamon, CEO Enterprise Ireland outlines why language matters.

Ireland’s small, open economy depends heavily on being able to trade internationally. The global dominance of the English language has worked to our advantage but with Irish companies looking to export into even more diverse markets, the need to acquire more languages has never been more important.

Recognising the cultural value of communicating in the buyer’s local language and developing a workforce with foreign language expertise can improve relationships and increase efficiency when entering new markets.

Learn how Enterprise Ireland can support your business with the Market Discovery Fund


Irish fintech disruption in AsiaPac

Irish fintech disruption in AsiaPac

Attendees at Routes to Growth Asia Pacific, a major conference which took place in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, heard that the region offers growing opportunities for Irish fintechs.

Payments company Fexco, one of Ireland’s oldest fintechs, began selling into the region in 2006, on the back of existing clients such as Jetstar, Australian carrier Qantas’s low-cost subsidiary.

Subsequently opening an office in Hong Kong, Fexco currently employs 20 people in what has become one of its fastest-growing divisions.

“In the beginning, we went out there with a kitbag bringing our services,” said Barry O’Sullivan, Fexco general manager.

“Now we have learned so much from the likes of companies like Tencent and Alipay that we are bringing more back in our kitbag from the region, that we can sell to Europe and the rest of the world. It has been a tremendous success for us.”

Fintechs interested in following suit need to be adequately resourced. “You have to invest. You have to take a long-term view and you have to put people on the ground and hire locally,” he said.

It’s a particularly opportune time to sell into Japan, delegates heard.

Japan wide open for Irish fintech

“Japan is wide open for Irish fintech. It has a huge financial services sector but a very small entrepreneurial sector. They simply cannot meet the demand for the fintech solutions that they require internally,” said Richard Okuno, a consultant with NMG Consulting.

The advent of Australia’s New Payments Platform, NPP, increases the country’s appeal for Irish fintechs too.

The recently launched platform enables customers with accounts at different banks, building societies, and credit unions to make payments to each other more easily, as well as providing real-time settlement via the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Fast Settlement Service.

It has proven transformational. “I can send money using an email address or mobile phone number,” said Paul Lahiff, NPP’s chairperson, pointing out that the new infrastructure is just that: “It’s not a product factory”.

Australian banks have spent the past three years connecting legacy systems to the new platform, and are only now investigating its potential to add value.

“While some applications can be done internally, we are also looking to partner with others outside, and we’re agnostic. So the best advice is for fintechs here to go there and talk because, having launched the railroad in February, the timing is right,” he said.

Because of the time it takes to generate business in Asia Pacific, which extends from Australia and New Zealand to India, China and South Korea, align stakeholder expectations before you go, advised Barry O’Sullivan.

“We followed our airline customers into the region and yet it still took three years before we saw any payback. But people in the region like to see that you have invested there, that you are going to stay around, and that you are setting down roots.” Use Enterprise Ireland’s assistance and tap into the Irish diaspora, he recommended.

Get market research help from Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland can also help with market research, which is important, given that there isn’t just one India but many regional variations, pointed out Deepak Sharma, chief digital officer at Kotak Mahindra Bank. A respect for local business culture is vital in each.

Part of what makes India unique in fintech terms has been the government’s move to take nearly 90% of its cash out of circulation in 2017. “That was a defining movement that accelerated the pace of change in the consumer mindset,” said Sharma. It left consumers with no option but to consider a move from cash to alternative payment methods.

The country also has an open payments infrastructure in place that allows for real-time gross settlement and national electronic funds transfer. “So, unlike other countries in which a payments company has to build the railroad and then figure out how to monetise it, the railroads are already there in India, irrespective of the customer market you are targeting.”

India has 400 million smart phone users, providing huge opportunities for mobile-first solutions. There is an appetite for innovative solutions, such as payment ecosystems which use biometric fingerprints, or QR codes too.

For fintechs to succeed in India four cs are required, he said. “The most important is the content. Do you have the right use case and the know-how to get into this market? Second, context: do you have an understanding that what works in one market won’t work in another, especially when you have quite different railroad and infrastructure which is already there.”

Third is commitment. “Once you get to the market, you need to look long term. India is huge. The price points are very different. Success does not come early. You are looking at large volume, low value, so you need to stick to long-term horizons. Finally, connect – at the end of the day, India is not one country. Just like the EU and Africa, it is distinctly different, so you need to think about how you will start building the kind of interfaces required.”

Collaboration and co-creation between banks and fintechs are key too, as is the importance of understanding the regulatory environment. “Pick up a partner or a sponsor bank who can help you navigate,” he said. “India is a very big market, it’s open for business, and a lot of fintechs from around the world are heading there.”

Irish Dog Foods learns new market research tricks to target export growth

 Irish Dog Foods learns new market research tricks to target export growth

When Irish Dog Foods needed to learn more about the relationship between man and his best friend, their first port of call was the Enterprise Ireland Market Research Centre.

The award-winning manufacturer has worked with Enterprise Ireland to develop innovative new product ranges for export during a relationship spanning more than 10 years – but the partnership has stepped up a level in the last two years.

Marketing Manager, Darren Keating explains: “Irish Dog Foods has used the Market Research Centre for every new market we’ve entered in the past two years – Portugal, Germany, Korea and Spain.

Excellent access to information

“The access to information they provide you with is excellent. They give you the tools and facilities to be better prepared when you move into new markets. As a company, you learn and benefit from the process of working with the Market Research Centre.

“We might be having a conversation internally about whether to put some effort into Poland or Denmark. At that point, we have some key questions to ask, such as what is the size of the market, who are the big players, is it dominated by retailers, is it dominated by pet stores, is it dominated by brands, or by private labels?

“One of the best avenues we would use to answer these questions would be the reports which are available at the Market Research Centre. They can give us access to data by company, sector, market and general country information. We still have to clean the data, but we wouldn’t be able to do it as professionally, quickly or as comprehensively without the facilities that the Market Research Centre provides.”

Knowledge it takes to break new markets

After more than 25 years in business and with around 50 exports markets globally, Naas-based Irish Dog Foods is one of the most recognisable names in pet food retail across the globe. However, this old dog is always keen to learn new tricks when it comes to breaking in to new international markets.

Darren explains: “When we launched in South Korea this year it was the result of 26 months of planning and preparation.

One of the things we learned during our market research is that almost all the dogs are small – there are practically no large dogs in Korea because it’s mostly large population centres with apartment living. That meant we specifically targeted the owners of small dogs.

“We also learned that the average spend on pet food was very high in Korea, so we were able to target our very high-quality foods at the buyers and retailers. That information came from reports provided by the Market Research Centre. It meant that when we were making our pitches, we were knowledgeable, we were experienced, we knew what we were doing, and it was impressive in terms of the buyer listening to us.

“The impression the buyers got was, ‘these guys know what they’re doing. They’re not just throwing everything on the table, they have an understanding of what will work in my market. It wasn’t the reason why we got the business, but it was a big help and it did make our pitches more professional.”

New markets can be big revenue drivers

The new markets Irish Dog Foods has moved into recently are expected to become significant revenue drivers over the next five years, and the company plans to continue its work with the Market Research Centre.

Darren says: “Recently, we started thinking about targeting the Polish market. We want to know things like, what’s the percentage of dog-owning households, what’s the dog population, what is a consumption of dog food – and what about dry food versus wet food? We can get that information in reports from the Market Research Centre and it helps us really get into the detail of the dog food category in Poland.

“We can also use them for lead generation. Who are the top 20 retailers in Poland? Can I get a database of all the pet distributors in Poland? If we get 200 leads and there are 50 targetable leads after cleaning, then that’s a good start.”

“The Market Research Centre doesn’t do our work for us, but it does provide the material
for us to do our work – and that makes the process much easier.”

Learn more about Enterprise Ireland’s Market Diversification supports here.


From Wexford to the world – Sonru goes global

You know your product has arrived when its name becomes a verb. Just ask Hoover. To physicists at CERN, the prestigious European research organisation, Wexford video recruitment tool Sonru “is almost a recognised verb in the CERN in-house vocabulary.”

It’s just one of a number of testimonials captured on Sonru’s website from big name clients around the world. All are fans of its pioneering online interviewing tool, developed to streamline the selection and recruitment process.

The business arose in the mid noughties when founder Ed Hendrick saw his fellow university graduates travel extensively for job interviews. “I just though there had to be a better way,” he said. Online video tools such as YouTube and Skype were then taking off, sparking an idea for an innovative solution.

Sonru enables recruiters to replicate a live interview online, dismissing the need for early-stage phone, Skype or face-to-face interviews. It uses questions preselected by the employer and answers given by the candidate at a time that suits them. The result is recorded on video and stored for reviewing.

Because interviewers and candidates are not online at the same time, it does away with scheduling and time-zone constraints. It also eradicates no-shows and screens out unsuitable candidates, saving time and money.

Hendrick started the business in an office at Enniscorthy Enterprise and Technology Centre before being accepted on a South East Enterprise Programme, a one-year incubation programme for entrepreneurs.

There he met fellow entrepreneur Chris Horan, who helped him to design the product, and became Sonru’s chief technology officer.

In February 2008, they launched a beta version to the market for free in order to get feedback. By 2009, Sonru had landed its first paying customer, Eircom, and revenues grew.

A UK office opened in 2010, with sales built mainly via trade shows. Operations in Singapore and Australia followed.

“The idea was always to sell worldwide and be a global company. I didn’t want to develop a product that would be restricted to one market,” said Hendrick.

Expansion was funded with the help of private investors and support from Enterprise Ireland. Maintaining a strong media profile helped. “We were lucky in that our investors contacted us. They had read about us in the press and were interested,” he said.

“We entered and won a lot of awards in the early days, including from the Small Firms Association and InterTradeIreland. It is a good way to get your name out there, giving you visibility.”

Today Sonru has a string of international accolades under its belt too including Singapore Business Review’s “Human Resource Technology Award” and a Top 100 Cloud Companies in the World nomination from Amazon Web Services.

Client testimonials and case studies from global brands such as Rolls Royce, Nestle and Qatar Airlines remain important however because satisfied clients are key: “Our best sales people are our customers telling their peers about it,” he said. “Only this week we had the Head of Talent Acquisition and Development of Mercedes-Benz UK share his Sonru story at the FIRMday Spring Conference in London. One of his slides had ‘Sonru has been an intervention that has had more of an impact on recruitment than anything I’ve ever seen.’ You can’t buy that sort of impact.”

Sonru is now translated into 19 languages, many of them Asian. It has more than 500 enterprise clients and captures thousands of interviews every day.

The company employs 60 people – and growing. “We are competing in the war for talent ourselves,” said Hendrick, who knows first-hand that the selection process is an important touch point for any brand looking to be seen as an employer of choice.

“We’re very focused on providing a premium candidate experience. It’s important that the candidate gets a great impression of the prospective employer right from the start, including through the choice of tools they use. Sonru enables employers to present the tool as entirely their own branded experience,” he said.  “And we’re very focused on delivering great customer service.”

To learn more about expanding your business internationally visit Markets & Opportunities.



How Dublin’s Novaerus helps the world to breathe easier

The soaring heat of 2018 highlighted the value of clean water. In Ireland, it was scarcely a matter of days before blue skies and barbecues were replaced by water shortage warnings and hosepipe bans.

Even in a country in which it rains much of the time, there was little grumbling about these restrictions. We understand the complex effort and investment required to ‘create’ water that is fit for human consumption.

Water grabs headlines. But there is another natural resource, just as important to human health, that until recently has been taken largely for granted – the air that we breathe.

Why the quality of indoor air matters

“It’s only recently that we’ve become aware that the quality of our indoor air is not as good as we thought, and is contributing to poor health and infection,” says Kieran McBrien of Dublin-based Novaerus.

“This problem is compounded by the fact that we humans spend most of our time indoors, where air gets trapped and endlessly recycled,” he says. “Each human being is shedding thousands of skin cells every hour, throwing off billions of micro-organisms every minute, and we’re breathing it – all of it.”

For humans who spend most of their time indoors – especially vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and the sick – particulate matter and contaminants in indoor air can exacerbate asthma, allergies, and chronic diseases, and directly lead to viral and bacterial infections.

This is the problem Novaerus was founded to address. Operating mainly in the healthcare sector, the company has patented a plasma technology that reduces the airborne pollutants which lead to health problems like infection, allergies, asthma and irritation.

Novaerus manufactures a range of portable devices that can be found in hospitals – operating theatres, ICUs, emergency rooms, patient wards, construction areas – as well as elderly and child care facilities, schools, and emergency response vehicles, anywhere in fact that the quality of air can detract from human health, productivity and wellbeing.

Standing up for air quality

Kieran McBrien, Senior Vice President for International Business Development, has been with Novaerus since its foundation and says that in the early days, the main obstacle the company faced was an unwillingness to accept that anything was wrong with the air quality.

“In hospitals, for example, most hygiene standards still don’t apply to air quality so it’s an easy one to ignore,” he says. “That’s despite a mountain of scientific evidence showing that pathogens can travel for long distances on the air currents that swirl around hospitals and other buildings. As long as the air is moving, so is the bacteria.” These bacteria and viruses can transmit infection via the air or they can fall on to instruments or surfaces to contaminate hands.

“Some markets are more accepting that air quality is an issue,” McBrien says. “We started in the US where we targeted the elderly care sector, and today we have a significant number of installations that are helping to reduce the instance of respiratory illnesses and other airborne issues. We’re also branching out through hygiene programs in schools.”

The firm has also gained traction in Africa, Eastern Europe and particularly Asia – in South Korea, for example, a staggering 80% of all ambulance rescue vehicles now carry Novaerus technology. (Novaerus is also one of only two companies to pass stringent air sterilisation standards set by the South Korean government to enter operating theatres.)

Reaching global distribution

Having started small, Novaerus is now operating in the big time. Sales of the portable devices are expected to grow by 40-50% this year and the company is targeting markets including China, Germany, Japan and India next year and beyond.

Distribution is handled by a global network of partners, mostly in the healthcare sector, who pitch and sell the proprietary technology into hospitals, clinics, ICUs, operating theatres, anywhere there are people whose immune system is compromised – including the staff whose daily attendance is integral to the business operation.

Innovation is the driving force behind this success – “our whole operation revolves around R&D,” says McBrien – and the company has an enviable facility including fully-equipped labs at its HQ in the DCU Innovation Centre, Dublin. (The company also has a US base.)

A decade or so on, however, Novaerus has not forgotten the role played by Enterprise Ireland in its growth. “Enterprise Ireland got involved with us at an early stage and helped us to find distributors in the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, most of whom are still with us, says McBrien.

“The effort that Enterprise Ireland puts in to help Irish companies is just fantastic,” he says. “Setting up trade missions, getting small companies onto the big stage, opening doors, where else would you get it?”

McBrien, a native of Belfast with a background in business and languages, is also adamant that being Irish on the global stage is an advantage. “For us, there’s the whole tech side of things where [Ireland] has a very good reputation,” he says. “The Irish are seen as friendly people, very receptive and good to do business with.”

Key questions to ask at your Spanish and Portuguese Market Advisor meeting

The combined population of Spain and Portugal is more than 10 times that of Ireland, while Iberia’s landmass is 7 times larger than Ireland’s.

If you are considering doing business in Spain or Portugal, your first step should be a call with our dedicated team.

  • What do you need from me to move this forward? Enterprise Ireland works with clients who have the potential to make an impact, by connecting with buyers and finding opportunities in the market. Irish client companies play a great role in this process too. To make the most of your opportunities in the Spanish and Portuguese market, ask your MA what you can do to move the process forward and ensure success.
  • What kind of timeline are we working with? Different markets work on different timelines. Winning business in this market requires dedication over time; developing your relationship with a buyer in Spain or Portugal is as important as any business negotiation. Ask your MA what kind of timeline you should expect when entering this market. That way you can be prepared for the different steps and milestones in the process.
  • What should our buyer persona look like? Knowing who you want to sell to in this market is very important. It is essential to understand the dynamics of your target market. With the help of your MA, decipher what your buyer persona looks like and work to adapt your pitch to that persona. While this can vary within the market (especially in Spain’s autonomous regions), legitimate and specified buyer personas can be useful in identifying who to approach in market first.

Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have industry experts on hand, ready to help you access the Spanish market.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

For more, download our Going Global Guide

Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Spanis and Portuguese markets can be viewed by clicking the graphic below.

Key questions to ask at your UK Market Advisor meeting

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in the UK.

If you are considering doing business in the UK, please be sure to reach out to our team in London.

  • What are the associations and organisations I should be speaking to in the UK?
  • Who are the key stakeholders in my sector in the UK?
  • What are the major considerations for buyers in my sector in the UK beyond price?
  • How do I need to present my company in the UK to challenge domestic competition in the market?
  • Who are the potential competitors for my business in the market? How strong is their foothold in the market?
  • What are the differences between how my sector operates in Ireland vs the UK?
  • What is the post-Brexit outlook in the sector?
  • How are Irish companies viewed in the UK?
  • What are the benefits of a UK based office? virtual or physical?
  • What do I need to do to set up a UK registered company?
  • What are the key sources of UK market information in my sector?
  • What supports can Enterprise Ireland UK provide in the market?

For more, please reach out to the MA here and be sure to check out our Going Global Guide

Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the US market

Ireland enjoys a unique advantage in trading with the US because of our deep historical links, in fact, it is Ireland’s second-largest export market, with almost 800 Irish companies operating across the United States.

If you are considering doing business in the US, please be sure to explore our tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our dedicated team.

  • The US is the world’s largest economy and is it the most competitive market in the world. Ensure your value proposition is differentiated before you try to acquire customers.
  • The population of the State of Alabama is the same as the entire Republic of Ireland, while Ireland’s GDP is similar to that of Colorado. It may be of benefit to take a more regional approach to your US market development, and not just gravitate to the main cities and economic centres. Spend some time understanding where the largest market opportunity and highest concentration of your customers may be.
  • Building rapport is very important in the US. Spend time developing relationships with your key target customers/buyers.
  • Attention to detail is valued in US business culture. US buyers will expect high-quality sales & marketing collateral, and it’s important that your collateral is updated with US-specific grammar and spelling.
  • Approach the market with a “customer needs” perspective not a “product” or “technology” perspective. What is the problem you are trying to solve with your product or service?

For more be sure to check out our Going Global Guide 

If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

Fuelling company growth AsiaPac

Fuelling your company’s growth in AsiaPac

The size of Asia reflects the scale of the opportunity it presents to Irish businesses, delegates at Routes to Growth AsiaPac, a major conference held in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, heard recently.

“Three of the four top economies of the world are in Asia. It accounts for half the world’s population and a growing middle class,” said Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, which organised the event.

“China, India and the ASEAN countries are showing more than double global growth rates, so they are not alone large markets but ones have massive growth within them. And ASEAN is one of the world’s largest economic zones, with a population greater than the EU and economic growth of double the EU’s.”

The AsiaPac region also includes Australia, remarkable for enjoying more than 25 years of continuous growth.

The region offers particular opportunities right now for Irish businesses in sectors such as aviation, financial services, international education and construction & engineering.

But there are challenges too.

“With Asia, you can’t go in, do a bit of business, and come home. You have to be really committed to the market. You need a balance sheet that can withstand the investment and you need an understanding of the culture,” she said.

There are logistical challenges related to distance, cost, lack of relationships and the need for a local presence. It’s not a homogenous block either. “Each of these countries has different culture that we need to recognise and appreciate. The Western mentality – believing we have the answer to your problem – doesn’t go down well in AsiaPac, you have to listen, and have patience.”

Be aware of distinct operational requirements in markets such as China, said MJ Guan, a partner at the China Ireland Growth Technology Fund.

It isn’t a question of simply translating your marketing materials but of doing first hand, on the ground market research for yourself. “Don’t just rely on third party agents,” he said.

Localisation requires much more than translation too, as companies such as Google and Uber have discovered. To assume that just because your business is successful in the Western world it will be successful in the AsiaPac region is a mistake.

Trip wires can include not finding out if you can get a direct licence to operate in your sector, and, if not, partnering with a local business. If you sell B2B get your “China Pricing” right. “In China we like to ask for a high discount from a vendor. If you don’t give a discount the customer may think you are not serious about the business,” he said.

Guan was at the event representing the second China Ireland Growth Technology Fund, which is newly launched. It aims to support Irish companies looking to access the Chinese market, as well as Chinese firms looking to use Ireland as a European base.

Announced in March 2018 by Ireland’s sovereign wealth fund, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), and its Chinese equivalent, the CIC Capital Corporation (CIC Capital), the Euro 150 million fund is a successor to the now fully-invested China Ireland Technology Growth Fund launched in 2014.

That USD 100 million fund supported six Irish technology firms expanding into China, including Irish-founded Movidius, the global leader in machine vision technology that was subsequently acquired by Intel.

The new Fund will once again be co-managed by Dublin-based Atlantic Bridge and Beijing-based WestSummit Capital.

The sectors it is open to applications from are quite wide, said Elaine Coughlan, founding managing partner of Atlantic Bridge. They include agri-tech and med-tech, enterprise and consumer software, semi conductors and industry-4.0 “all the things China wants access to and wants to buy,” she said.

Even where a company is not ready for investment, the Fund can help applicants make contacts and start building crucial relationships.

“We look at thousands of companies on an annual basis and with a lot of them we say ‘You are not ready yet, here are some contacts, here are some relationships, do a little more work, a little more market research, and come back to us’” said Coughlan.

“It’s very rare we say ‘no, never’. We say ‘not now, come back to us’, and give them some pointers to think about in terms of execution. We’ve a portfolio now of companies – of CEOs, VPs (vice presidents) and BDs (business development executives) – who are in China and who can share that knowledge with other Irish companies.”

One company the Fund has already invested in is indoor positioning systems company Decawave, which currently has five people based in China.

“You need to get out there on the ground so use Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Foreign Affairs and all the resources open to you. There is always someone who can give you introductions,” said Paul Costigan, chief sales and marketing officer at Decawave.

Its technology is based around “really precise GPS that works indoors, with very many applications for robotics, drones, AI, automation and smart factories, all the areas that China is so far ahead in,” said Costigan. In fact, “China already accounts for 60% of our revenues and we haven’t even got going yet.”