One of Ireland’s internet pioneers with the country’s first ISP and the man who kicked off the online advertising business in Ireland Colm Grealy has raised €500,000 for his latest venture Digital Reach Group, enabling the company to double its staff to 20 people.
Pageant Holdings, a company led by Peter O’Grady Walshe is taking a minority stake in Digital Reach Group, which is leading the charge in terms of digital media advertising on the latest handsets and tablet devices.
The link between O’Grady Walshe and Grealy actually goes back to one of the trigger points for the early take-up of internet in Ireland.
Grealy explained that when O’Grady Walshe was managing director of Xtravision in the mid-’90s, he and Grealy struck a deal to deploy Ireland’s first-ever internet starter packs with internet access and an instructional VHS video.
The move was an instant success and the fledgling internet community in Ireland was boosted by an extra 20,000 users.
O’Grady Walshe, who now heads up Pageant Holdings, will fund Digital Reach Group until it reaches profitability.
Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, Grealy said the nine-month-old company has achieved revenues so far of €1m and expects to be profitable in mid-2011.
About Pageant Holdings
Pageant Holdings has interests in a number of Irish and European businesses, including Xtra-vision. With the €500,000 investment deal, Pageant Holdings will take a minority stake in DRG and Walshe, the director, will join the board of DRG as a non-executive director.
“DRG provides the services and tools that allow businesses to take advantage of the mobile internet’s potential, an increasingly critical media platform,” Walshe said. “The management team’s proven track record in the both internet and mobile sectors marks DRG out as a company with very significant promise for continued growth.”
DRG delivers mobile advertising, app and content publishing solutions for publishers, advertisers and ad agencies. Recent successes include winning deals to sell and manage mobile advertising on behalf of Meteor, RTE and a network of other popular smartphone applications through its mobile web advertising division, Adforce.
The company is also responsible for creating the highly successful RTE News Now iPhone app, which became Ireland’s No 1 news app on iTunes within two days of its release and remains at the top of the charts to this day.
Grealy is also behind the launch of the Quick Response (QR) codes service through ScanLife – a ‘point and scan’ mobile marketing service.
From its foundation, DRG has been privately funded by its management team – Colm Grealy, CEO, Denis Lally, finance director and Kevin Foley, sales director and new chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association in Ireland.
“Our view of where the new media is headed, we see the opportunity to help publishers and SMEs embrace the shifting media platforms. How do publishers embrace the new publishing platforms, marketing platforms and find ways to generate advertising revenue if business models are changing?
“With newspapers, for example, you are seeing the transition from a legacy business to a new digital business. The key is doing it in a way that doesn’t impact on the legacy business.”
New ways of publishing
He said that publishers need to embrace the new forms of publishing – such as on the iPad and the many new devices that will follow – with conviction and integrity.
He cited Time magazine on the iPad as a good example of what’s possible for traditional magazine publishers.
“They didn’t make the mistake that some publishers made by just lobbing up a PDF version of their magazine to the iPad, what they did was create a separate, unique product that is very much text, video and photography based.
“We are in the very early days of media companies exploiting new devices and the companies that exploit these first will find a way to generate revenue without damaging the existing product,” Grealy predicted.
By John Kennedy
Photo: Internet pioneer Colm Grealy