8 brilliant businesses based in Belfast’s Ormeau Baths

19 Dec 2019775 Views

From left: Claire Dowds, general manager of Ormeau Baths, Kairos co-founder Andrew Trimble, Smartzer's Dovydas Pliauga and Chargifi's Nathan McClatchey. Image: Ormeau Baths

Earlier this year, Belfast’s Ormeau Baths celebrated its second anniversary. We take a look at some of the most exciting start-ups that have been based in the co-working space since it opened its doors.

Based in a former Victorian bathhouse near Belfast city centre, Ormeau Baths is an entrepreneurial campus and co-working space that is home to a wide variety of indigenous start-ups, as well as a number of global tech companies.

Since it opened in July 2017, alongside corporate partner Barclays Eagle Labs and TechstartNI, the space has hosted many start-ups, including businesses run by former professional athletes and innovators that have crossed oceans to set up shop in the Belfast co-working space.

Here, we have rounded up some of the most interesting start-ups based in Belfast’s Ormeau Baths.

Chargifi

Chargifi CEO Dan Bladen was inspired to launch the business after he spent six months travelling around the world in 2012 and realised that he made many decisions about the venues he visited based on the availability of power sockets.

Bladen said: “If we had gone travelling in 2006, we would have had a connection problem: Wi-Fi wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today. Now the problem is power – simply staying charged.”

Backed by Intel Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Accelerated Digital Ventures, among others, Chargifi offers cloud-connected wireless charging for business. The start-up delivers a cloud-management platform that enables businesses to meet the rising demand for wireless charging from their guests, customers and employees.

The start-up, now based in Ormeau Baths, has developed a patented solution that turns wireless power into a service that adds value for businesses and provides an opportunity for a customer-centric experience. Chargifi has already been deployed by more than 200 organisations in 21 countries. Earlier this year, it announced plans to create 41 new jobs in Belfast.

Payhere

Co-founded by Peter Hawkins and Scott Wylie, Payhere has developed a website payment integration tool for businesses to increase and manage online sales. The start-up’s payment form enables customers to accept recurring and one-off payments in less than five minutes.

Payhere can be integrated and customised to include a company’s logo. The widget can be embedded directly into a website with just two lines of code. Customers can connect their Stripe account and set notifications to see who has paid and who hasn’t.

The company has three different subscription tiers for various types of customers, including a $49 package that enables businesses to collect $5,000 per month, a $99 business package that has a $20,000 monthly limit, and a $249 enterprise package that has no limit on monthly payments.

Airbrio

Between Ireland and the UK, there are around 6.5m people with asthma. Airbrio’s founders Dr Jim Harkin and Prof Liam McDaid wanted to create an app to help those people manage their condition.

Led by CEO Susan Kelly, Airbrio offers a platform for people with asthma and COPD, which enables them to track and train their inhaler use for more effective delivery and better control of their condition. The start-up aims to improve adherence to prescription inhalation technique and promotion of best clinical practice.

The start-up has a space in the Ormeau Baths and provides users, carers and healthcare professionals with valuable data that was not previously available. The start-up has designed its system in a way that processes this data to empower users to improve management of their respiratory condition.

Nigma

Founded by Conor Graham and Declan McDonough, Nigma is a Belfast start-up that helps businesses evaluate software engineers and verify that they have the skills that they say they do.

Nigma does this by simulating real-world scenarios so hiring managers can obtain an accurate analysis on engineering talent in a way that favours coding ability instead of how well an engineer can solve an algorithm challenge.

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The platform can be modified to suit technical hiring needs, by someone with very little coding knowledge. It provides a library of code tasks that can be assigned to candidates to complete, before it is submitted for engineering teams to review.

The business runs regular meet-ups, hackathons and also contributes to open-source material to keep the developer community at the core of the company. Nigma generates revenue through a subscription-based model, depending on the number of candidates a business intends to hire.

Kairos

Kairos has created a platform dedicated to helping elite sports clubs and athletes own and improve their performance. With scheduling, planning and analytics tools, the start-up offers a range of features aimed at having athletes ready to perform on game day.

Co-founded by Belfast businessman Gareth Quinn and Andrew Trimble, a former Ulster rugby player who made 70 international appearances for Ireland between 2005 and 2017, Kairos is a business set up from the perspective of an athlete.

The start-up has designed a scheduling tool that aims to remove the “clutter” from training and physiotherapy, to help teams build a cohesive schedule including all of their personal and professional plans. The platform also provides the whole team with analytics on their health, performance and overall wellbeing.

Smartzer

Smartzer is a company that makes interactive video tagging software, enabling businesses and individuals to make their videos interactive and ‘shoppable’ across all platforms. With a customisable overlay, Smartzer adds hotspots to videos on both desktop and mobile.

The start-up has worked with brands such as Jo Malone, Valentino, Burberry, Adidas, Puma, JD and Sephora. Led by CEO Karoline Gross, who runs the business from New York, Smartzer’s Belfast team began setting up in Ormeau Baths in November, with plans to take on 16 staff.

The Belfast team is comprised of software developers, designers, quality assurance and software engineers. Gross said that the Belfast office will play a “key role” in contributing to the company’s success, citing Belfast’s high standard of talent as one of the factors that drew her to the city.

The Sensible Code Company

The Sensible Code Company was founded in 2010 by Aidan McGuire and Dr Julian Todd. According to Crunchbase, the business has raised $1.2m since founding.

The company works with economists, statisticians and data managers to help them improve their business operations, using data science techniques and machine learning. Users can construct any table they require from data and experiment with disclosure parameters.

The Sensible Code Company has also developed a platform that lets people convert PDFs into Excel, HTML, CSV or XML files. The company’s technology has been used by the European Union, the UK Department for Communities and Local Governance, AutoTrader, the Guardian, Channel 4 and The World Bank.

Brain and Nerd

Founded in 2012, Brain and Nerd is a small studio that makes big games. Developing original PC games with a focus on solid core game mechanics, emergent gameplay and procedural content, Brain and Nerd successfully crowdfunded its first game, Predestination, on Kickstarter.

The start-up was founded in 2012 by Queen’s University Belfast graduate Brendan Drain and Tina Lauro Pollock. After the launch of Predestination in February 2019, Brain and Nerd is now in the process of developing a second project, which is a sandbox survival game called Hortalius.

The start-up prides itself on actively engaging customers in the development process and aims to support the emerging Northern Irish game industry and STEM education.

Brain and Nerd is one of a number of game studios based in the Pixel Mill at Ormeau Baths, including Northern Softworks, Rocket Flair Studios, Cupboard Games, Whitepot Studios and Blackstaff Games, among others.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com