Tech start-up of the week: Bizimply

23 Aug 2014

The Bizimply team: Paul Breen, Shane Arrowsmith, Gerard Forde, Mikey Cannon

Our tech start-up of the week is Bizimply, an all-in-one people and shift management solution that is changing the way restaurants and businesses are managed.

Bizimply gives these businesses their own HR solution for all their locations.

“We take the pain out of scheduling their hourly employees, speed up payroll with our Timestation iPad app, and give them instant access to the day-to-day sales, issues, activities and more across all their locations,” explained co-founder Gerard Forde.

“There is no cloud solution out there that offers retail and restaurant owners the access to vital business information from anywhere and on any device.”

Forde, Mikey Cannon and Norman Hewson founded the Dublin-based company in 2012.

Forde and Hewson have been directors of the café chain Nude and Cannon is an experienced product and graphic designer.

“We had the idea for Bizimply after years of watching frustrated managers using spread sheets, notebooks and emails in a struggle to manage the operational aspects of their businesses.

“We built Bizimply because we believe that restaurant and retail managers should always be out on the shop floor driving sales, but unfortunately they are all too often stuck in the back office under a mountain of paperwork,” Forde said. 

The market

Bizimply can be applied to all service-industry businesses, across multiple countries.

“Due to our own intimate knowledge of the area, we are initially targeting the hospitality and retail sectors,” Forde said.

The Irish retail sector alone employs 275,000 people but, as Forde pointed out, the vast majority of businesses rely on outdated, time-consuming and costly software to manage their people.

The technology

Bizimply marketing manager Paul Breen installs one of the company’s Timestation apps

“We built the Bizimply Platform in Ruby on Rails and used lot of JS technologies. Bizimply is hosted on AWS and we are also launching a number of apps to plug into the platform,” Forde said.

Timestation is the company’s first iPad application, a simple concept that he said works perfectly.

“An iPad is wall-mounted in your location, you download an app and it is immediately synced to your existing Bizimply account, giving you a live feed of who’s in, who’s out and who’s running late.

“When the team arrives, they simply key in their PIN and ‘say cheese’ – as the app captures an image of them. We were aware that some businesses may not have the greatest Wi-Fi in the world, so the app is specifically designed to work both online or offline.

“The app is easy to use for both managers and staff but the key takeaway is that we are allowing businesses to cut labour costs without a huge investment in hardware. 

“We’ve given our customers something that simply wasn’t a viable option to most small retailers six months ago.

“One customer who has been using it for the past three weeks informed us it has turned their payroll from a two-hour weekly slog into a 10-minute breeze. We are also adding more features to make payroll processing even easier but already we are delighted with the response from those using it.”

Forde said new releases, such as employee apps, will be released over the coming months.

“But between ourselves and our customers we have enough ideas to keep us busy for a long time!”

Customer acquisition

Forde said Bizimply is the first in a new generation of people and shift-management solutions.

“We foresee these solutions becoming as ubiquitous as accountancy software in the coming years and we plan to be the leading player in this market.”

He said customer acquisition is the easiest part of the business.   

“Whenever we show Bizimply to a potential customer they understand the benefit of the solution we are promising immediately – it’s a no-brainer for them. Our goal is simple – get the sale every time.

“We now need to focus on scaling our sales process. We are about to open Bizimply to international markets over the coming weeks, so we are pretty excited about that. At present, we are frantically putting in place all the support structures needed to scale in the way we expect to.”

The best place in Europe to start a tech place

Forde feels that Dublin is the best place in Europe at the moment to start a tech business.

The proof can be seen in the Irish technologies that Bizimply itself uses to run its business.

“At Bizimply we use Intercom for communicating with our users, Stripe for taking payments, and OnePageCRM for managing our sales pipeline. It’s not a buy Irish thing, we use them because they are the very best at what they do.”

He said Dublin is awash with great events for start-ups, such as Dublin Beta, Pub Standards, and Sales Hacker, and there seems to be more popping up each week.

“It’s great for us and our team to learn from our peers and get to know some great people in the industry.

“Obviously having companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter located in Dublin is great for drawing attention to the Irish tech industry, but events such as the Web Summit are great to showcase the local companies, too.”

Build a great fecking product (GFP)

Forde’s advice to other start-ups is to think global from the get-go and build a great team.

“And forget minimum viable product (MVP) and have the courage and belief to build a GFP (great fecking product).

“Your customers will love you for it.”

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