Start-up balances the books for Green Dragon


5 Feb 2009

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Up-and-coming Dublin tech firm Visor is deploying its Accounts IQ accountancy software to firms that need it via the
internet. Tony Connolly is Visor’s chief executive.

How did you make the move from being an accountant to a technology entrepreneur?
I did my articles with KPMG and ended up working in its IT consulting division. Because I liked technology so much, I went back to Trinity College Dublin to do a postgrad in IT. After that, I set up my own IT consultancy practice focused on advising businesses on what technologies suited their needs.

I merged that business with Farrell Grant Sparks in 2000 and became a partner in the firm with responsibility for IT. I decided to leave in 2004 and took my team with me, which is how Visor was born.

You provide your core product, Accounts IQ, over the internet in a software as a service (SaaS) rented model. How does this work?
Accounting staff, management and client users can access their accounts online at any time and from anywhere with an internet connection by simply logging in from a webpage. This removes the need for users to have in-house IT support or servers.

This model comes more into focus now that we’re in an economic downturn. Businesses will invest in IT as an operational expenditure rather than a capital spend. They just want to pay for IT as they use it. This model is more compelling today than it was 12 months ago.

Do you think the SaaS model will eclipse the traditional up-front investment model for software?
It is certainly looking that way. We’ve invested in putting the infrastructure in place to allow people to use the software from any computer connected to the internet.

This investment allows us to rent out the application for use on any machine. Most software – particularly software aimed at SMEs – is headed in this direction.

The big leader in this new market for software is Salesforce.com. We’re doing for accounting what Salesforce.com did for sales force automation.

One of your high-profile customers is the Irish Green Dragon Team taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race. How will the team use the technology?
We’ve set the whole thing up for the Green Dragon Team and they can access their accounts from anywhere in the world. They can keep track of fundraising and costs being accrued during the race.

The ability to access their accounts from anywhere is a huge advantage. Otherwise, they would have been emailing stuff everywhere.

How is Visor funded?
We were self-funded initially, with a few private investors. We did a Business Expansion Scheme in 2006, and around the same time got some support from Enterprise Ireland.

Last August, we secured a €1m investment from Enterprise Equity and the AIB Seed Capital Fund.

What are your plans for international expansion?
We just set up our Australian office and have embarked on a sizeable project there. The main markets we are targeting are English-speaking ones.
We already have users in Australia, India, the UK, Portugal, and, of course, Ireland.

By John Kennedy

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