Tech start-up of the week: Vconnecta

27 Sep 2014

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Pictured: Vconnecta's founder and CEO Brendan Finucane

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Our tech start-up of the week is Vconnecta, a Cork-based creator of a political campaign mobile toolkit that contributed to a 72pc success rate in recent elections in the US.

Vconnecta is a mobile and cloud-based community engagement platform that provides field driven insights that help businesses, organisations, and leaders connect and listen to local communities.

Vconnecta’s founder Brendan Finucane explained that the company sells both white label enterprise solutions, and an off-the-shelf political campaign toolkit called Ecanvasser.

Earlier this year we reported that the Cork-based start-up signed up its first live customers for its cloud and mobile-based canvassing tool in Nevada, where primary Congressional elections took place in June and a general election will be held in November.

“Our political campaign toolkit, Ecanvasser, places an innovative structure and focus for campaign managers when organising their canvasses and teams,” Finucane explained.

“Managers have access to an easy to use and intelligent web-based dashboard.

“From the canvasser’s perspective, they have access to an easy to use mobile smartphone application that has been developed with an emphasis on clean design and usability.”

The founder

Finucane has a BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems degree from University College Cork, and a number of years experience working on both local and national election campaigns.

“Vconnecta was originally my research project from college,” he explained. “I entered a student competition and received first place – the idea just grew legs from that point on.

“Vconnecta is a combination of my degree and my hobby.”

The market

Vconnecta is targeting the political campaigning markets in Ireland, UK, and the US.

“Based on international enquiries we have received as well as usage patterns, we know there is a demand and a lack of supply.

The technology

Vconnecta Cloud is a REST API that fully integrates with the users data file i.e MS Excel, MS Access, or MySQL DB etc.

All the data is stored in the Cloud, and can be easily accessed by management through the web-based dashboard, and by field workers through a native mobile app.

Features include an interactive mapping interface, automated word-processing, and in depth analytics.

Political campaign mobile toolkit

Finucane says the ambition is to become the number one political campaign mobile toolkit in the world.

“We raised a seed round last year, and are looking to raise another round before the end of the year.

“We launched a beta version of Ecanvasser in January, and we had nearly 150 registrations for the Irish Local Elections last May. In April we entered into the USA market with four Republican campaigns.

“It was really exciting to see Ecanvasser in action in the run up to the elections our technology was being used to canvass over 10,000 houses a week. 72pc of Ecanvasser users were elected,” Finucane said.

Planet of the APIs

Finucane says the technology was the biggest challenge to overcome.

“The development of the API and the backend technology took a number of months to build.

“We have placed the emphasis on building very strong technology, and it was very satisfying when we had a successful technology deployment.”

Finucane says that the start-up ecosystem in Ireland is growing at a fast rate.

“The one thing that strikes me is every person involved in the scene is open to helping each other out either through advice or introductions.”

His advice to fellow start-ups is to start talking to your customers or potential customers straight away.

“When you have a prototype or a MVP put it in front of them and get their feedback. That’s the only way you can learn and improve your product.

“That’s what we did when we first started in 2012 with a very early version of the software. I cringe every time I think back to what we put in front of people! But it was through that early feedback which resulted in a product that now creates value for our users.”

 

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com