OpenBack wins €25,000 ESB Spark of Genius 2016 prize

10 Nov 2016

OpenBack founder David Shackleton holds aloft his Spark of Genius Award, flanked on either side by Parkpnp’s Garret Flower (left) and Wia’s Conall Laverty (right). Image: John Kennedy

After a high octane pitch battle involving three Irish start-ups at the Web Summit in Lisbon, this year’s prize went to Dublin software company OpenBack.

OpenBack has created a new standard for mobile app notifications that makes them less annoying and more practical.

The company, which is led by founder David Shackleton, achieves a 38pc average click-through rate compared to the industry average of 4pc.

“When it comes to delivering notifications for users, every app does push in the same way as it was invented for email. We think that is crazy. The smartphone in my pocket is more powerful than the laptop I bought two years ago,” said Shackleton.

“The brands should be making the experience easier and better.”

A pitched battle

OpenBack went toe to toe with two other Irish start-ups, Wia and Parkpnp, who gave a great account of themselves.

Parkpnp, led by Garret Flower, is endeavouring to be the Airbnb of parking; with the dual purpose of helping residential property owners and car parks generate extra revenue, and helping busy motorists find a parking space.

Wia, led by Conall Laverty, is an NDRC-based internet of things (IoT) start-up that originated in Belfast, and aims to provide makers with a platform to bring home and school projects to life.

This is the sixth year of the ESB Spark of Genius start-up competition which is now as old as the Web Summit itself.

Last year’s winner, Bizimply, has gone on to attract investment and is growing at a rate of 150pc to 200pc a month.

One of the previous winners, SmartThings, was acquired by Korean tech giant Samsung to be the fulcrum of its IoT strategy for an alleged sum of $200m.

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