Out tech start-up of the week is MyDealDoc, a developer of mobile apps that allow consumers to see what special offers are available in their local store.
Established by chartered accountants Mike Morrissey (26) and David Keenaghan (27), each app created by MyDealDoc is specifically tailored to product categories so consumers can save money by shopping smart for products, such as alcohol, school uniforms, baby products, and more.
BoozeDoc is the first of the family of apps, while another app BabyDoc, is in development.
BoozeDoc lets users see what alcohol special offers are available in their local store, be it a Tesco, Dunnes, SuperValu or other such shop.
The app is geolocation aware and essentially localises the special offers to the user’s current location and provides the user with a mapping function to show the closest stores.
The app has already achieved more than 12,000 downloads.
“We are developing a family of mobile applications that allow the user to see what special offers are available in their local store,” Keenaghan said.
“We believe we operate in a relatively unique space in that we are not a price comparison website nor are we a deal-based website, we’re all about promoting special offers and showing the consumer where to go to buy the products they want.
“Each geolocation-aware app is tailored to carefully selected product categories and all apps will carry the Doc brand name. Right now we’re looking to target the alcohol product and baby product categories but we intend on expanding into other categories in short to medium term.”
As Keenaghan sees it, Ireland is very much a smartphone nation. “By the end of 2013, smartphone ownership was estimated at over 2m handsets. Smartphones are becoming more and more integrated into the lives of Irish people and are influencing consumer behaviour. A Red C research report commissioned by IAB stated that 61pc of Irish smartphone users deemed ads on their mobile to be valuable, with 36pc saying ads are valuable when they save them money.
“With regard to our first app, the BoozeDoc, our target market ranges from 18-55-year-olds. We believe this age bracket has become highly familiar with mobile apps, with Facebook,WhatsApp, and Twitter now a part of everyday life.
“We have reflected this in the design of our app; the design is age and gender neutral, the functionality has been kept as simple as possible. Our next version of the BoozeDoc App is set to include tasting notes on wine and craft beer, which has been implemented as a result of feedback from the older side of our target segment.”
Morrissey and Keenaghan founded MyDealDoc in April 2013.
Morrissey is from Tipperary and studied business at the University of Limerick. Keenaghan is from Dublin and studied business at Trinity College Dublin.
Both are chartered accountants, having completed a training contract together with KPMG.
Since setting up MyDealDoc, the duo has spent the last 12 months building up knowledge in both the tech industry and the fast-moving consumer goods industry in Ireland.
The MyDealDoc team obtains the current special offers available at retailers through a couple of different ways but predominantly by direct email from the retailer.
“When the user opens our app on his or her phone, it obtains the latest special offer information from our server, as well as the locations the offers are available around Ireland.
“Essentially, we provide the user with accurate data in real-time. It’s this live feed of information that gives us such an advantage over traditional forms of media. We can keep our prices up to date as the retailers change them,” Keenaghan explained.
The app provides the user with three different search functions: Doc’s Top Choice searches for the top deals in nearby stores; Booze by Type allows user to search based on category and quantity; and Store Locator is a mapping function that brings all the stores around a user’s location onto the screen.
MyDealDoc is a company with big ambitions, said Keenaghan. “We’re aiming to have at least two apps on the Irish market by the end of 2014. We’re also aiming to enter the UK with BoozeDoc within six months.
“In 2015 we expect to increase the number of apps we will offer, as well as expand into new geographical territories. The hope is to set up an international HQ from Dublin and grow our operations at home and abroad.
“We believe the BabyDoc app, in particular, has global potential. When we first established the company we envisioned a time whereby the phrase ‘Doc It’ would be commonplace in society. That’s our ultimate goal and if we can get to that point we’d be happy.”
With more than 12,000 downloads on iPhone and Android, the app is growing in popularity and Keenaghan said every week he is approached by retailers looking to feature on the app.
“We’re looking to hit 20,000 downloads by May 2014 and triple this before year-end. Right now, we believe we’re sufficiently capitalised to continue to operate as we are but we may look at raising a round of funding to assist entry into foreign markets.”
Being a start-up means challenges are a daily fare. “Actually, designing the app and getting it built was definitely one of the greatest challenges. We needed to design it in such a fashion that meant it could appeal to people of all ages and also so that the update of information was manageable. It was important we got it right the first time and thankfully it appears we have, judging from feedback so far. That being said, we’re always looking to improve the product.”
A good time to be a start-up in Ireland
From the NDRC to NovaUCD, to the Dublin Business Innovation Centre as well as Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU and CSF schemes and the County Enterprise Board, the supports available make it an exciting time to be a start-up in Ireland.
“Start-ups have become the fashionable thing to be involved with and a lot of this can be attributed to bodies such as the Web Summit, Dublin Beta, Pub Standards, and Pitchify.
“Essentially, the start-up has been taken out of the dark bedroom and into the spotlight.
“The best thing about Ireland is that other entrepreneurs are always willing to help wherever they can. Seeing others getting involved and succeeding in their own start-ups is a great motivator.
“Irish start-ups like Stripe and Soundwave show its possible to start something small and grow into something large."
Keenaghan’s advice to other start-ups is to flesh out ideas as much as possible, even if they are just drawings on a page.
“Always challenge yourself to be better. Your start-up should become your life. Try to cover all the angles of your stakeholders, think about it from the perspective of your users, your customers, your investors. By getting the complete picture only then can you make proper informed decisions.”
He also believes start-ups should research their target market and make medium to long-term plans.
“Remember you’re the person with the vision, keep an open mind but don’t be afraid to make tough decisions.
“Finally, try your best to independently validate your concept by talking to people you don’t know but can still trust. Figure out if your idea is viable, and if it is you need to really believe in it. If you don’t, no one else will.”