Meet Ireland’s mobile answer to Google AdWords

14 Feb 2011

Well-known tech entrepreneurs Brian Caulfield, formerly of Similarity Systems, and Paschal Taggart, formerly from Orbiscom, are backing a new Irish company that intends to do for mobile advertising what Google’s AdWords did for the internet.

Sotxtme pays phone owners for receiving advertising via SMS from SMEs and big brands.

The company is the brainchild of entrepreneur Ian Flitcroft, who previously spent 10 years building the Irish-based software company Orbiscom Ltd into a global payments solutions provider.

MasterCard purchased Orbiscom in 2008 for US$100m and its innovative payment platform is now fully integrated into MasterCard’s global payment network.

Sotxtme’s CEO is Noreen O’Hare, a former CEO of Cable and Wireless Europe. Its board is chaired by well-known entrepreneur Taggart, a former chairman of Orbiscom, and also includes Garry Lyons, former CEO of Orbiscom and currently chief innovation officer for MasterCard Worldwide, and Caulfield who previously co-founded and sold Exceptis and Similarity Systems.

The company’s strategic development plan is to globalise the business within three years and it has set its initial course on delivering the service to profitability within 10 major UK cities, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

“Communication has gone mobile and we have created the platform for marketing to go mobile. We have made SMS advertising as simple as Google AdWords and we intend to open up a whole new market for mobile advertising for SMEs as well as big brands,” said O’Hare.

Business model

“Our business model is based on attracting mobile phone owners to consent to receiving relevant SMS adverts and on rewarding them with phone credit for every advert they receive. We will grow that database organically and through strategic partnerships with companies who already possess large customer databases,” she added.

The company will conduct an extensive online, social media, press and outdoor advertising and marketing campaign to incentivise and attract registrations from mobile phone owners in the UK, particularly focusing on students, deal seekers, budget-conscious mothers and professionals aged 16-24.

“Our software interface enables SMEs, large multi-nationals and advertising agencies to create their own campaigns quickly and simply and to target them at a receptive audience based on demographics. We have also integrated a complete set of advertising, reporting, help desk, management KPI and finance solutions which have been designed with full localisation capabilities,” O’Hare explained.

“The fact that SMS messages can be received on every phone and their ability to go viral is a key selling point. There are 82m mobile phone users in the UK alone. The average user sends over 30 text messages a day or 10,560 texts per year. It is one of the most effective channels for communicating with people,” said O’Hare.

Sotxtme has already begun the process of recruiting engineering, sales and marketing professionals at all levels at its Dublin headquarters and in the UK, and expects to become a leading international employer.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years