PaidAde perfects the clicks-to-bricks model to supply builders

10 Sep 2018

From left: Niall Brennan, PaidAde; Ben Hurley, NDRC; Ciaran Brennan, PaidAde; and Ken Lambe, PaidAde. Image: Patrick Browne/Brownes Photography

Our Start-up of the Week, PaidAde, connects building trade contractors to suppliers via a clever Android app.

“Our app streamlines a contractor’s business while our marketplace offers suppliers the opportunity to put their products into the pockets of contractors in the field,” explained Ciaran Brennan, co-founder, and head of business strategy and growth at PaidAde.

The NDRC start-up wants to put the right product in front of the right building contractor at the right time, saving time and money.

‘Our goal is to efficiently link 5,000 contractors to suppliers in four years’

It does so through an app that connects contractors directly with building suppliers.

The market

“We are targeting speciality contractors operating in the construction industry worldwide,” Ciaran explained.

“Initially, we have our sights on the 250,000 speciality contractors operating in the UK and Ireland. Our goal is to efficiently link 5,000 contractors to suppliers in four years.”

The founders

“I have been involved in construction all my life,” Ciaran said.

“Our family have a rich tradition in construction, not only in Ireland but around the world. I set up my first company in Australia with my brother Niall. After learning some harsh lessons, we eventually managed to build, scale and sell that business. We, just like many other tradesmen, struggled with the transition from tradesmen to businessmen.

“Luckily, Niall had some great experience with job management software and managed to build a custom system to solve our problems. That really was a key turning point in our careers.”

Today, Niall heads PaidAde’s product team. He has also built two contracting businesses with the company’s business development manager, Ken Lambe.

“We all bring strong industry knowledge and experience to the table. I have also worked for one of Australia’s biggest building suppliers, which gave me the experience of what it’s like making sales on the flip slide,” said Ciaran.

The technology

The PaidAde app for contractors was launched in January 2018. It is an Android-only app.

“We are now in the process of building out our pricing portal, which links contractors to suppliers,” Ciaran explained.

“It’s the knowledge of how we take a list of 20,000 products from a supplier and present them to a contractor at his time of quote that makes our technology unique.”

Ciaran said that putting the right product efficiently in front of the right contractor at the right time takes time.

“We want to ensure contractors come back every time, which is why we focus on making that connection trade by trade. We start with electrical; next year it will be plumbing; but in five years’ time, we plan to be the number-one platform linking contractors to suppliers in Ireland, the UK and Australia.”

PaidAde currently has 50 contractors using the platform. “We are working closely with the electrical contractors and have now started connecting them to suppliers.”

The company recently won the NDRC Investor Showcase at ArcLabs at Waterford Institute of Technology, and Ciaran said this will help to spring the company’s seed round into action. “We are currently raising €800,000,” he said.

Build it and they will spend

“It’s tough,” Ciaran conceded. “Luckily, this is not our first business. All three co-founders have been running businesses over a 10-year period. That doesn’t make it easy, but experience matters.

“Early-stage funding is certainly a tough obstacle. We have found it tough funding one man to run the business while Niall and Ken bootstrap through an existing building contracting business.

“That’s tough, as it’s hard to juggle everything. Luckily, with the Competitive Start Fund [CSF] and NDRC investments, we are starting to get more and more of the team full-time on PaidAde.”

Having spent nine years in Australia and three actively around the start-up scene, Ciaran believes Ireland is the ideal place for a start-up to begin. “The early-stage supports like New Frontiers, Local Enterprise Offices, CSFs etc are just not available in the likes of Australia. They are great; I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

His advice to fellow founders is to focus, focus and focus. “It’s a foggy time; you don’t know which way it’s going to turn. Every day and week brings new challenges and opportunities to lose focus. You’ve got to know your goals for each year, quarter, down to week and day.

“How you get there is where the work is and, essentially, what you will be judged on as an entrepreneur. But you must have focus on your goals and when they need to be achieved by.

“Reach out to New Frontiers, Enterprise Ireland, NDRC and others. There’s a lot of support out there.”

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