Konversational: The Dublin start-up digitalising customer workflows

7 Nov 2022

Konversational co-founders Richard Guy and John Gilleran. Image: Orla Murray/Coalesce

Founded in 2020, Konversational is on a mission to become the ‘go-to’ customer workflow expert in Ireland and the UK.

“I always had an interest in the logic of solving complex problems and in working out how these problems could be solved more effectively by using technology,” said Richard Guy, co-founder and services director at customer workflow company Konversational.

It was this interest in solving problems that led Guy to study engineering, work in various tech companies, get an MBA and eventually cross paths with his co-founder John Gilleran.

At the time of meeting, Gilleran was running Focus Group Europe, a reseller for ServiceNow in the UK that he founded in 2009. In less than eight years, the company accumulated more than 200 clients and 75 staff before being acquired by Accenture.

The two then used their tech industry and ServiceNow experience in Ireland and the UK to launch Konversational in 2020.

“Konversational is the leading ServiceNow technology consultancy firm in Ireland,” Gilleran, who is the Dublin-based start-up’s managing director, told SiliconRepublic.com.

“We support organisations on their customer digital transformation strategy, help them to extend their services beyond the customer contact centre and scale operations by automating work across multiple departments.”

The story so far

ServiceNow is a global cloud computing platform that helps companies manage their digital workflows. Gilleran said that Konversational is “at the forefront” of delivering and implementing ServiceNow customer workflow products in Ireland and the UK.

Typical brands and markets that Konversational targets are those that have a “traditionally high percentage of spend on managing customer service” because of the opportunity for value creation by tapping into technology.

“We have a diverse set of enterprise customers spanning finance, retail, manufacturing, healthcare and technology sectors across the UK and Ireland. Whilst we sell across many different verticals, we have a specific focus on the technology service providers marketplace,” Gilleran said.

As a sales and services partner as well as authorised training partner of Service Now, Konversational is on a mission to be recognised as the “go-to” partner for customers looking to improve their digital transformation programmes in Ireland and the UK.

“Throughout the previous decade, we saw enormous expansion of customers adopting SaaS and transforming how they interact with their employees through the application of ITIL [Information Technology Infrastructure Library] and service management disciplines to drive automation and improvements in experience,” said Guy.

“As we moved into a new decade, we saw an opportunity to take this approach and technology to work with those customers where there is typically a lot of complexity in how they manage their customer interactions.”

Today, Konversational is one of the fastest-growing ServiceNow partners in the EMEA region, according to Guy, and is on track to becoming an elite customer workflow partner.

As with many other tech players, Konversational got a big boost during the pandemic, when companies adapted to a new online reality by shifting focus to digitising operations.

“It is this shift in focus that is still driving a lot of our new client conversations today, particularly so in sectors like finance, retail and tech,” Gilleran said of Konversational’s client base, which includes Dublin-headquartered IT firm Ergo.

Attracting talent

Every growing start-up needs a strong team behind it. Konversational is particularly keen on attracting both highly skilled graduates starting out their careers as well as experienced professionals who want to “embrace the challenge” of growing a company.

“At Konversational we really value diversity, in the context of experiences and outlook. Having worked in multiple countries across the globe, we are firmly of the view that teams which have a good gender and ethnicity balance have the foundations in place for success,” Gilleran said.

This is one of the reasons Gilleran and Guy chose to base Konversational’s headquarters in Dublin, where key talent is readily available.

But finding the right people to work for the company and upskilling employees at pace has also been “the biggest challenge so far” in the start-up’s growth journey, Guy explained.

“One of the biggest lessons from my career so far is that age and experience are not necessarily a pre-requisite to success,” he added.

“Rather it is finding exceptional talent, helping to shape and grow careers and, by doing this, it allows a start-up to scale at their own pace rather than relying solely on having to hiring experienced resources.”

Having bootstrapped the business so far with a strategy of “continually reinvesting any profit to maximise growth”, Guy said the team has no plans of attracting any external investment as of now.

“But as we continue to grow, we will always be open to considering strategic changes which will add value both to Konversational and, more importantly, add value to our customers.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic