Our tech start-up of the week is Scurri, a Wexford-based digital venture that is starting to make waves for its online shipping platform that targets e-commerce providers. Founded by Rory O’Connor, Scurri was one of nine tech start-ups that took part in the Irish arm of the international Start Tel Aviv (TLV) competition in Dublin this week.
Based in Duncannon in south Co Wexford, Scurri was incubated in the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).
Founded by O’Connor, he set up Scurri as a platform to give companies online management tools. The goal of these tools is to allow such companies connect to and manage the most suitable and cost-effective transport providers, he says.
Last year, Scurri got a welcome boost when it managed to secure €600,000 in an investment round involving four angel investors and Enterprise Ireland. The funding round gave Scurri a welcome cash injection to scale up its employee headcount, and the company is still scaling on the back of the investment.
How Scurri came to fruition
Firstly, what does the name Scurri signify?
"It’s a play on the word ‘scurry’, as in the software scurried around and found the right delivery service for me," explains O’Connor. "We were looking for a name that had a dot.com, dot.co.uk, dot.ie, etc, available."
The idea for the start-up come about when O’Connor was trying to hunt down a service to ship alloys for his car.
"I built the original concept around providing consumers with cheaper deliveries by utilising excess capacity with shipping providers. However we found over time the biggest demand was coming from e-commerce merchants."
He says that in developing a technology that connects delivery companies with the companies sending the deliveries, Scurri found a gap in the market.
O’Connor says that the platform allows merchants to connect their own systems directly to Scurri.
"In turn we will provide a connection to the transport companies in order to print delivery labels and to track and manage their deliveries."
At the minute 11 people now work at Scurri.
"Some of our employees don’t spend all their time in Duncannon as we have a distributed team and we also operate an office in London.
"We are looking to increase the size of our technical team at the moment and are looking for good Python developers," says O’Connor.
In relation to the €600,000 investment that Scurri gleaned last year, O’Connor says this money allowed the start-up to invest in building out on the original product concept and to set up its office in the UK market.
At the time of the investment, Scurri had two full-time employees. From the investment O’Connor said that the original plan was to create nine jobs.
"We currently have 11 working with us and most of them are software engineers. We are looking to fill a few more development roles at the moment and our growth plans over the next year or two will see us increasing our staff significantly."
Scurri’s immediate goals
The start-up gained customers earlier in the year from the UK market. O’Connor says this customer coup has seen "explosive growth" in the number of transactions Scurri now processes.
"This success has opened many new doors in the UK in the past few months. We have agreed three new partnerships, which will drive substantial growth over the next 12 months and establish us as a serious contender in the UK market.
The main goal in the next three to six months is to exploit those opportunities.
"We also have plans to quickly move into providing our services in the US and beyond in 2014."
As to whether any particular entity has been helpful to the Wexford company, O’Connor says that Scurri has found all the support agencies fantastic, from the TSSG in WIT to Wexford Local Development, to South East BIC and the team in Wexford County Enterprise Board.
"They have all supported us along the way. However, John O’Dea and his team in the HPSU unit in Enterprise Ireland deserve a special mention; they are extremely helpful and supportive."
Advice for other self-starters
So what advice would O’Connor give to people setting out in business, especially those starting tech businesses outside of urban hubs such as Dublin, where broadband can sometimes be slower?
"We are a cloud-based business so broadband is very important to us, however we situated our office close (within 100m) to an enabled exchange so we have no problems in that regard."
He says that at, any one time, at Scurri’s offices there could be five or six separate Skype or Google Hangout video calls taking place between vendors, partners, customers or remote staff who could be located anywhere in the world.
"Technology means that you can set up a global business from anywhere in the country once you have a good broadband connection. My advice would be to pick an office location that is close to a modern exchange and then you are in the game."