Tech start-up of the week: Element Software


17 Mar 20131 Share

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Element Software CEO Dorothy Creaven receiving IEDR's OPTIMISE fund from Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in September 2011 (image via Maxwell Photography)

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This week’s featured start-up is Element Software, a Galway-based software development and consulting company specialising in mobile apps for businesses in the media, sports, travel and technology industries.

Founded by CEO Dorothy Creaven and CTO James Harkin in late 2010, Element Software began developing high-quality apps dedicated to the ever-evolving world of mobile technology.

Creaven’s background is mainly in IT business analysis, software development and project management and she feels at home within the realm of entrepreneurship.

She comments: “I have a degree in electronic engineering from NUI Galway and have worked for some of the world’s largest multinationals, like Google and Abbott. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so working for myself always seemed inevitable.”

The company prides itself in being at the forefront of cutting-edge smartphone mobile application technology and has worked with numerous high-profile organisations.

Creaven notes: “From studying the market closely over the last few years, research has shown that mobile app user retention is a major issue; up to half of the people that download your app will spend less than four minutes using it. We wanted to come up with a solution to specifically tackle this problem and so developed our mobile messaging platform, Element Wave – an online mobile push messaging and analytics tool.”

Pushing the envelope

Mobile push technology is when messages are pushed from a brand to a customer. In Element Software’s case, it mainly involves B2C companies in the travel, banking, media, sports and games industries who wish to send targeted messages to users, even when the app is closed. When brands or companies send out push messages to mobile users, an alert appears on their smartphones encouraging them to open the app again.

“In Element Wave we have created a product that is solving a major problem in the mobile app market: low user retention. By increasing user retention, revenues generated through apps increase. Element Wave is an online communication channel between the brand and the mobile app user that allows companies to send specific, targeted messages directly to the mobile app user based on their preferences, locations, language, country and habits,” states Creaven. “It is software that can be integrated into new or existing mobile apps by adding one line of code.”

Element Software CEO Dorothy Creaven

Element Software CEO Dorothy Creaven

Once integrated, Element Wave allows brands to send messages to their mobile app users either manually through an online web interface or automatically when the user has signed up to specific events.

“For example, if the digital marketing manager in Starbucks wants to increase footfall into one of the New York City branches, he or she can log into the Element Wave platform and create a targeted marketing message specific to Starbucks’ mobile app users who are within two blocks of Times Square in New York – ‘Buy a cappuccino, get a pastry free!’” explains Creaven.

Element Wave keeps people interested in apps by allowing brands to deliver new and relevant content instantly to their mobile users, significantly increasing mobile user engagement.

“Companies develop apps for a number of reasons: to support the brand and increase brand awareness, or to generate revenue. Market research shows that the longer a user spends using a mobile app, the more revenue is generated through in-app advertising, purchasing and general brand promotion,” says Creaven. “We are currently focusing on providing a drag-and-drop solution for mobile app developers and digital marketers to keep people interested in their apps.”

Investment

Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme assisted in expanding the company’s opportunities in the early days. This support gave Element Software a great starting point and began the path of taking it to market.

The company has also recently secured private equity investment from Ipotane Capital, a European private equity vehicle in the UK, who can bring strength in finance and sales to support Element Software in becoming a leader in mobile marketing technology.

Creaven is very aware of how important this investment could be to the business. “Securing funding from Ipotane Capital has been an important step in the continued development of Element Software. This funding has allowed us to focus our efforts in bringing Element Wave to market, rather than continuing to bootstrap with app development. Securing investment at this stage in our company’s history is a crucial part in transitioning from a great company into a world-class industry leader,” she enthuses.

Partnership and the future

Element Software currently employs six people in the areas of software engineering, management, marketing and graphic design, and is aiming to expand the team significantly over the coming six to 12 months.

“We have big plans for Element Software. We intend for our Element Wave product to be the market leader in mobile app push technology and user analytics. Our hope is to expand our team and operations here in Ireland, as well as establishing a US base later this year,” says Creaven. “We are also hoping to partner with other leaders in the mobile space in order to apply push technology to other emerging areas in the mobile market. We expect to bring push technology to the next stage and continue to create cutting-edge mobile software products.”

Element Software is an example of a company quickly emerging from the start-up phase. With combined experience in software development, marketing, design and back-end integration expertise, the Element Software team are experts in the mobile software technology arena with an evident love of technology.

When asked what advice she’d have to other aspiring Irish start-ups, Creaven’s advice is to speak with potential customers and validate that your idea is one that people are willing to pay for.

“Derisk early by spending time doing primary and secondary market research. If it’s a software product that you are selling, come up with a way to offer a ‘freemium’ version. Keep start-up costs as low as possible, which will keep the financial pressure off and the creative juices flowing. Don’t spend too much time thinking about your idea; get out there and start to make it happen. And, most importantly, go for it,” concludes Creaven.

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Colin White

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