Armour Interactive, a new web-design and development agency based in Galway, is our tech start-up of the week. The company’s core product at the minute is Ammotio, a cloud-based application builder that aggregates online information so companies and employees, as well as contractors, can use it to input data around everything from expenses to hours they have worked.
Andrew Dewdney, a designer, and Jamie Casey, a software developer, co-founded Armour Interactive in September 2010 and started trading that November.
Dewdney, who graduated from University of Ulster in 2002 with a degree in visual communications, says that he and Casey came up with the idea for the start-up after they had liaised on some web and software projects in Galway when they had been working as freelancers.
"We came up with idea of forming Armour Interactive as a way of combining our skillsets and establishing a solid brand reputation. It was infinitely preferable to the continuous uncertainly that freelance life comes with!" he says.
Dewdney himself had worked in London in the past for design studios, before returning to Ireland to work as a freelance designer for four years.
So what’s Armour Interactive all about then? "We provide services in the areas of web design, mobile apps, e-commerce and software, but Ammotio is our core product," explains Casey.
Since starting the business they have expanded the team and now six people, including Dewdney and Casey, work at Armour Interactive.
“Our team includes two designers and four developers,” says Dewdney.
The duo describe Ammotio which incidentally means ‘application’ in Latin – as a browser-based application builder and a form/view-based online information aggregator.
"It means our software developers can quickly and easily build complex data structures, input forms and data importation maps. It allows for the creation of modules, which are groups of functions performed on certain structured data inputs to produce a report," says Casey.
He says that at Ammotio’s core is a user/group permissions system.
“For instance, users of Ammotio can be divided up into two categories, admin users and portal users.
"Admin users can access the complete Ammotio system. They have access to details on all portal users and can generate system-wide reports and import and input data across all users. Portal users can only view and edit data pertaining to them," explains Dewdney.
At the minute contract pilots for one of Europe’s largest airlines are using it, while HSE Home Help employees in Dublin West are also trialling the system.
They first set up the admin/portal structure of Ammotio to target remote contractors.
“Initially, we rolled it out to airline pilots, who had found it very difficult to keep track of all their expenses due to constant travel with restricted luggage allowance,” says Dewdney.
And to complement the desktop portal the company has developed a mobile app.
“The native app has all the features of its browser-based counterpart, and also contains a useful feature for photographing and uploading receipts on the fly,” explains Casey.
He says that an accounts manager, for instance, can use Ammotio’s admin system to approve or reject each expense that an employee or contractor might have inputted into the system.
Plus, with the Ammotio Accounts feature, Casey says contractors can view their profile details, payslips and P60 forms, invoices, hours they have worked and bank statements.
Dewdney and Casey have also built upon the system to add payroll generation.
“This allows Ammotio Accounts to be used by companies with employees and not just contractors. It is initially being trialled by HSE Home Help staff in Dublin West,” says Dewdney.
He says that another planned module is a system for locum GPs to digitise patient notes and prescriptions directly through their mobile device to the Ammotio system.
SMEs are currently Armour’s main target markets, but Casey says the company has recently started targeting larger businesses for software development.
“For the Ammotio system our target market is companies that deal with large number of employees or contractors.”
The team at Armour Interactive. From left: Dave Herlihy, Patrick Gillespie, Andrew Dewdney, Jamie Casey, Andrew Mullins, Martin Holusa
As for their immediate plans, they plan to continue developing and expanding the Ammotio system, as well as building tailored modules and websites for clients.
They have also added another partner to the business, John Cunningham. "He operates a new business called Aeon Solutions. With Aeon we are developing an Amazon type e-commerce solution for Ireland. Aeon operates a huge automated ‘pick and pack’ factory in Dublin," explains Dewdney. He says the plan is to use Ammotio to control order management and distribution from this factory.
In relation to mentoring and support, Armour Interactive has been working with Galway County Enterprise Board.
“We received a small grant for software and hardware. We aim to grow our company organically,” says Dewdney.
Organic growth also brings its challenges, he says. “The main problem has always been balancing the ongoing development of our core platform with keeping cashflow steady. But, after 20 months, the fruits of our labour are beginning to pay off.”
And his advice for other self-starters out there?
“Never get ahead of yourself. We’ve had days and weeks where enquiries pour in. While this is certainly encouraging, we are always aware that this can be seasonal, so we never take anything for granted. Also, don’t increase your prices when your workload increases. This is a sure fire way to lose clients in the long run,” adds Dewdney.