Ones to Watch

Ones to Watch | Thu 3 Dec | Author – Business & Finance Ones to Watch header

Business & Finance highlights some of the top movers and shakers in Ireland.

Bizimply

Bizimply Mikey and NormanWhat is it?

Bizimply is a cloud-based workforce management solution for single and multi-unit businesses with hourly paid employees.

It takes the pain out of scheduling hourly employees with simple scheduling and accurate forecasting. Bizimply speeds up payroll with its Timestation iPad app and gives business owners instant access to information around the day-to-day operations of their business.

Who’s behind it?

The company was founded by Gerard Forde, Mikey Cannon and Norman Hewson in 2013. They had the idea for Bizimply after years of watching frustrated managers struggling while using spreadsheets, punch clocks and emails to manage the people in their businesses.

How is it funded?

Bizimply has secured investment from some high-profile angel investors here in Ireland and is currently negotiating a Series A funding round which should be in place before the end of this year.

Since coming out of beta in January, they have experienced significant growth each month with current customers including Compub, Wagamama Ireland and Insomnia coffee.

Future plans?

Bizimply is currently targeting the hospitality and retail sector but will soon expand into other markets such as healthcare and construction. 60% of all employees are hourly paid, and 70% of employees don’t have an email connecting them to their place of work.

Its founders believe that Bizimply will become the Workday for hourly employees and the go-to platform for businesses with hourly workforces. It has customers in 11 different countries, and in the short-term plans to grow the sales team and expand market reach by opening offices in London and Boston.

SoapBox Labs

SoapBox LabsWhat is it?

SoapBox Labs is enabling automated assessments of children’s reading and language skills by ‘listening’ to them reading and saying sounds and words aloud, then analysing their speech using its cloud-based proprietary speech recognition platform.

These assessments are used to enable personalisation of online lessons for children.

The platform is licensed to third-party education publishers to enable assessment and personalisation functionality in their apps and web services focused on teaching of literacy and language to young children.

Who’s behind it?

Dr Patricia Scanlon holds a PhD in speech-recognition and machine learning technologies from University College Dublin. She has 18 years technical experience in academia and industry. The inspiration for this technology came from helping her daughter learn to read.

The experienced team includes speech scientist Dr. Amelia Kelly, technology lead Robert O’Regan and software developer, Ronan Tumelty.

How is it funded?

Patricia Scanlon took a novel approach to developing and incubating the idea. Working with the Learnovate Centre and supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund of €360,000, she became the first ’spin-in entrepreneur’ to Trinity College. 

Future plans?

SoapBox Labs’ partnerships are currently focused on literacy learning with the traditional education publishers in English-speaking countries. It plans to expand to include English language learning products and companies in the UK, US, Asia and South America. SoapBox Labs is now raising a seed round to accelerate product enhancements and drive its go-to-market strategy.

Way2Pay

Way2Pay Denise O'GradyWhat is it?

Way2Pay is an income collection system for schools. It allows parents to pay for things like trips, books, sports and lockers via text message, email, an online dashboard and an app. It helps parents monitor outgoing payments and keep track of their spending.

It is also very beneficial for the school as it decreases the time teachers spend collecting money in class, reduces administrative work, ensures prompt payment and eliminates safety concerns around the handling of cash on the school premises.

Who’s behind it?

Having worked as a teacher for a number of years, and as a parent of school-going children herself, Denise O’Grady decided to respond to the need for payments to be more efficient between schools and parents and decided to set up Way2Pay.

A team of eight now run the company from the Digital Hub.

How is it funded?

In its early stages, the company participated in the DCU Ryan Academy’s Propellor Programme and the NDRC’s Launchpad Programme. As well as providing early stage financial investment, they offered O’Grady intense mentoring.

Earlier this year, the company received an investment of €500,000 from Enterprise Ireland, Jenson Solutions and Patrick Joy, founder and executive chairman of Suretank Group and former E&Y Entrepreneur of The Year.

Future plans?

“We already have a strong customer base in both Northern and Southern Ireland and this investment is helping us rollout in the UK market,” O’Grady says. “We also recently launched the new technology and are looking at expanding to other markets.”

WoofAdvisor.com

Gerry Molloy WoofAdvisorWhat is it?

A platform designed to help a global community of like-minded pet lovers engage with each other and share their pet experiences, WoofAdvisor.com allows users upload and share pet selfies, form dog walking groups and join in the community forum.

In addition to listings of pet-friendly accommodation, amenities and services,

WoofAdvisor.com have incorporated a trip planner to allow for unscheduled stops en route, often a must have when travelling with dogs.

Who’s behind it?

WoofAdvisor.com was founded by Gerry Molloy in late 2013 and has been in development since, formally launching just last month. This is a completely new departure for Molloy, whose previous careers spanned the contract flooring and private security sectors.

Developing WoofAdvisor.com involved significant reskilling on Molloy’s part, covering areas as diverse as business innovation, web design, social media and digital marketing.

How is it funded?

Molloy made the decision to self-fund and bring WoofAdvisor.com to market himself, with the aim of validating the business case and business model. Once established, his plan is to engage with potential sponsors and partners including pet insurers, pet food manufacturers, national/regional tourism bodies, and potential media partners.

Future plans?

The present phase is about building the business, followed by formal launch in the UK. “I strongly believe the timing is right, that WoofAdvisor.com has unlimited potential, and I’m looking forward to scaling it up and bringing it to the rest of the world,” he says.

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