Start-up of the week: Gecko Governance

1 Aug 2016

GECKO Governance CEO Shane Brett

Our start-up of the week is Gecko Governance, a Dundalk and Dublin-based start-up that makes regulation technology for the global finance industry.

One of the hottest areas in technology right now is fintech (finance technology) and one of the hottest areas within fintech is regtech (regulation technology).

Gecko Governance is a new regtech solution that easily allows fund managers to monitor and manage their regulation and compliance requirements,” explained CEO Shane Brett.

‘Five years from now, we anticipate having 40-plus clients worldwide with offices in Dublin, London, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney and revenues of €8-10m per year’

“We are based in the Regional Development Centre, Dundalk and have a second office in Dublin city centre.”

The market

Ever since the financial crisis, fund managers have been deluged with a huge amount of new and complex regulation.

“The market we are targeting contains 3,000 fund managers worldwide managing 15,000 hedge funds and 80,000 pension funds,” Brett said.

The founders


Gecko team members Andris Macs, Damien Cahill and Shane Brett

Brett has worked in hedge funds and asset management for 20 years all over the world and previously wrote two books on fund management.

“Before building Gecko Governance I ran my own consultancy in London, specialising in hedge fund regulation.

“The rest of our five-strong team is a mix of technical, product and business development expertise. Mark, our CTO and co-founder, has worked in the IT industry for 20 years.”

Damien Cahill and Andris Macs are the company’s business development analysts, and Sean McEllin, formerly of Enterprise Ireland, is the company’s business adviser.

The technology

Gecko Governance works by providing fund managers with a live oversight of all their funds regulation and compliance requirements.

It helps them to determine which funds are on schedule and which are behind, which compliance tasks are outstanding and which have been completed.

“Gecko Governance enables fund managers to schedule all their end-to-end compliance and regulatory tasks and provides a verifiable independent audit trail of compliance to satisfy global financial regulators requirements,” Brett explained.

“One year from now we aim to have eight live clients based in Europe and the US, having concluded a €1m fundraising round to facilitate global expansion.

“Five years from now, we anticipate having 40-plus clients worldwide with offices in Dublin, London, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney and revenues of €8-10m per year.”

Rapid expansion

Brett said that Gecko Governance is expanding quickly now that the product is built and ready to roll out to the market.

“We have been busy implementing with DMS Governance, our first live client, and are currently finalising product pilots with two other fund managers.

“We are looking to expand into London later this year to target the enormous UK fund management industry. We have connected with the Irish International Business Network (IIBN), taking part in their Irish Start-up Pitch Night in London recently.

“We have also received tremendous support and advice from the Local Enterprise Office in Louth and have received HPSU status from Enterprise Ireland. With their help, we are also seeking investment of €500,000 to finance our expansion plans in London.

“We have been shortlisted for the Fintech StartupBootcamp in London, and will be exhibiting at the RegTech Summit in London in September.

“We were also a finalist for Best Digital Online Start-Up at the the Bank of Ireland Startup Awards this year.”

Alive and thriving start-up scene

Brett said that one of the main challenges the company faces is the long adoption cycle of the large potential business clients it is targeting.

“We are 100pc bootstrapped to date, which means we have to carefully manage our cash flow to match their procurement requirements.”

‘Don’t be afraid of discouragement, see it as opportunity to refine your product’

Brett describes the Irish start-up scene as alive and thriving.

“There are plenty of great start-up events in Dublin right now, such as DublinBeta, Startup Weekend and Startup Next. We took part in Techstars Startup Next pre-accelerator programme, with Google for Entrepreneurs and Bank of Ireland. It was a very worthwhile and intense six-week mentorship, and we would highly recommend it for start-ups looking to perfect their product strategy and pitch.”

Brett’s main piece of advice for start-ups in Ireland right now is to practice pitching.

“If this means hiring a professional coach for a few days to analyse and perfect your pitch and techniques it would be worth it.”

He also advises founders to get out there and get networking.

“Go to these events like DublinBeta or Startup Weekend to find out more. Get your face known and your idea perfected. Mingle with industry insiders, they all attend these events to spot ‘the next big thing.’

“Don’t be afraid of discouragement; see it as an opportunity to refine your product.”

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