Tech start-up of the week: Salmon Technologies

10 Nov 2014

Pictured: Paul Phelan, Salmon Technologies

Our tech start-up of the week this week is Salmon Technologies, a Wicklow-based software company focused on the intelligent storage of private documents for families and individuals.

“Our goal is to help people to save time at critical moments in their lives,” explained Salmon Technologies’ CEO Paul Phelan. “We help them to access all their important records – such as passports, birth certificates, medical records, insurance certificates, mortgage documents – with one click or tap on their mobile device, laptop or PC.

“Once they have everything captured electronically – by scanner or even digital photograph – they are instantly available.  Essentially, we are offering a dedicated place for people’s family records: kids, spouse, parents and other dependents.

“We aim to make the process very simple and speedy.  This goes all the way from capturing and indexing the documents – which we have made amazingly easy, with pre-structured indexes – all the way to retrieving the documents when needed. Our solution takes care of critical personal records, and also day-to-day documents.

“We do this with our SalmonPDM cloud service application, which works on windows, web, and iPhone. PDM stands for Personal Document Manager. It is based on new technology that we have patented.”

The market

The market sector Salmon is targeting is known as Life Management Platforms.

“We are offering document management – with a unique focus on critical records and personal legal documents – for consumers with assets. They will typically have a family and are usually aged over 35. 

KuppingerCole, is a global analyst headquartered in Europe focusing on Information Security and Identity and Access Management. It estimates that by 2020 Life Management Platforms will be a larger business than traditional social networks.”

The founders

Salmon’s CEO, Paul Phelan has more than 20 years’ experience as a CIO, with Data Edge, and he remains in this position.

He also has lots of experience of being a hardware and software development engineer too.  He was educated as an engineer in DIT Kevin Street and Trinity College.

Carol Glynn brings a 15 year business development experience to Salmon and is sales and marketing director and a co-founder of the business. She offers a very strong commercial and organisational flair to the company.

The technology

Smartphones and cloud storage have enabled fast and flexible access to users’ documents and records, literally at any time and from anywhere, Phelan explained.

“Our technology offers a customised directory structure within the user’s private cloud drive. We securely integrate with popular cloud drives such as Google Drive and Dropbox, where the actual documents are stored.

“Our secret sauce is in enabling a simple and easily searched directory structure, that is personalised to the user’s life or their family. We enable an encrypted link for the documents to be accessed.

“Once the new user registers their account and inputs their personal configuration information, our servers deploy the customised directory model directly onto the users favourite cloud drive. We initially ask the user some basic questions about their family and circumstances and this information is then used to enrich the names of the directorys and template files. This can be completely set-up in a matter of a couple of minutes.

“We have made these directory structures easily navigable and intuitive. To make the models even easier to navigate we have a dashboard of shortcuts, annotated with icons, to the key sub-directories, such as my house, my car or my education.|

When the user logs into our SalmonPDM webserver, these shortcut links brings them to their cloud drive directories.

“Our promise is that if a user follows our suggestion to capture our prioritised list of documents into their directory, they will never be more than seven seconds away from any of their critical documents.”

A shot at becoming the industry standard

Phelan says that Salmon’s solution is very unique in the problem that it solves. 

“We hope that our  individual and family solutions become the industry standard, sold directly to our customers and via wholesale licensing.

We won’t finish there. We are planning a suite of solutions designed to help people to quickly and easily organise their lives.

Currently Salmon has over 100 users.

“Wicklow Local Enterprise Office, awarded two separate grants that were very helpful, and we are actively seeking further investment and partnerships.

“Initial feedback from customers has been very encouraging. The key messages that keep coming back are about the ease of use and time saving advantages. What seems to have particularly caught people’s attention is the way the system is pre-set-up with a categorised home for each critical record and legal document.

“We are not unique in facing the challenge of building large scale server developments while only being able to get serious growth and acceptance with a Freemium model. We have a great team, and are having some very serious discussions about finance to facilitate our growth.

You can never be too old to start-up

Phelan described the start-up scene  in Ireland as very active, but in need of more balance.

“All the new ‘apprepreneurs’ seem to be young people and recent college graduates. We are all in our forties and fifties, and are hoping this extra life experience will give us an edge.

“We do feel lucky to be in Ireland. The Irish tech brand is very strong around the world, and events like Web Summit, where we pitched just last week, give us a fantastic window on the world.”

His advice to other self-starters is to focus on developing uniuqe value for customers.

“It is a very crowded marketplace and if you cannot find clear blue water, you will find it difficult to succeed against the might of the ‘techstablishment’.”

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