This week, our tech start-up to watch is Voice Engineer Ireland, a new venture based in Co Kildare that specialises in telecommunications solutions, such as unified communications and ICT support services.
Lloyd O’Rourke, Chris Webb and Conor Killeen founded Voice Engineer Ireland in 2010, after the trio met while working at Siemens Enterprise Communications.
According to O’Rourke, the trio decided to set up the company after identifying a gap in the market for providing proactive ICT support services.
"The innovation is in our approach to deploying our service and providing customers with key ‘value adds’ that other competitors don’t offer the market," he says.
The business, which is based in Maynooth, Co Kildare, currently employs 16 people, including its engineering support team.
"We doubled our workforce this year," explains O’Rourke. The company, which got the ISO 9001 certification for services support in ICT, was also a finalist in the best emerging new business category in the Small Firms Association’s 2012 National Small Business Awards.
To date, Voice Engineer Ireland has been mainly concentrating on building up clients in the larger enterprise, as well as the public-sector space. Its current client list includes the likes of Pfizer, Royal Bank of Canada, the Irish Dairy Board and University College Cork.
The main services that Voice Engineer Ireland offers are support services for the installation, implementation and ongoing support of voice and data technologies for clients.
Its technologies include IP and PBX telephony, while the company also provides data and LAN and wireless LAN solutions. The company’s maintenance services for clients include ongoing support and systems maintenance and 24/7 support for customers.
"We also support contact centres and provide call centre solutions. We do cloud-based services and we’re also working on the development of applications within our own systems," explains O’Rourke.
The next strand of the business, he says, will involve the company developing products itself.
“Our in-house development team is currently working on applications and software that complement the current product set."
Such future services will involve monitoring not only clients’ phone systems but also their networks, explains Killeen. "It’s about developing proactive management so we ring them if they have an issue."
Voice Engineer Ireland also recently held an event at the Guinness Enterprise Centre along with Enterasys on the topic of bring your own devices (BYOD). The aim of the event was to look at issues that companies and organisations might have when devising BYOD policies. At the minute, Voice Engineer Ireland is working with companies that want to deploy BYOD policies to help them with issues concerning potential security threats and malware breaches.
In terms of scaling up, O’Rourke says the aim is to take on 10 new employees in 2013.
"We’re rolling out a cloud contact centre solution, along with the launch of our BYOD managing individual devices (MDM) platform."
While Voice Engineer Ireland was bootstrapped by the three founders, the company received support from Kildare County Enterprise Board, including mentoring and grant aid. O’Rourke says AIB was also helpful.
As for the challenges when starting out, he says this mainly centred around securing initial clients.
"We were lucky in that we won a maintenance contract with the Department of Education for 13 sites after we were only two months in business. Once that came in, there was a snowball effect and the rest of the customers started coming in one by one," he says.
Finally, his advice for new start-ups is to make sure to have a business plan that can be adapted if needed.
"It doesn’t have to be a massive document. You need to know who your customers are and then work back your business plan from there. It’s obviously also very important to get your financials right."
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