Our start-up to watch this week is YellowSchedule, a new cloud-based appointment and client customer relationship management (CRM) platform targeted at service providers that has been co-founded by brother and sister duo Martina and Michael Skelly.
They set up YellowSchedule in early 2011 and set up a working beta of the platform with customers later that year.
Martina Skelly has experience in the digital marketing space and formerly ran her own company Activate Marketing whereas Michael is a programmer and has taken on the role of chief technology officer at YellowSchedule. He is based in DCU Invent, while Martina works from the Nexus Innovation Centre at University of Limerick.
She says that the platform streamlines all aspects of the appointment process for service providers, ranging from booking appointments, response-based appointment reminders through to client communications and business analytics.
The idea is to enable companies learn more about their no-shows and client history, so that they can fill empty appointment slots.
When companies sign up for the system she says they use it for scheduling.
“It sets up automated SMS and email appointment reminders. These are customisable. The client is then invited to confirm or cancel the appointment,” explains Skelly. If a client sends a different message, YellowSchedule takes this as a full message into the client area, so that the customer has a record of all communications.
“With the reminder information we process this and pull it back into the visual calendar. It gives people an extra layer of information so they can look at their schedule and know where there are cancellations. They can either re-book that vacant timeslot or they can re-allocate their resources,” she says.
Genesis of YellowSchedule
The idea for YellowSchedule came about when Skelly missed a medical appointment that had been made six months earlier for one of her kids.
“I forgot about the appointment and a basic reminder would have helped me get there. I believed that there had to be a better solution for both the service provider and client,” she explains.
Martina did a feasibility study on the market in terms of what service providers needed and what was already available in the market.
“There were existing products but they had been built for older browsers, were clunky to use and often required webinars to train users or set up an account. Most of them had been developed before SMS text messages became so popular,” she explains.
Skelly then set about convincing her brother about the potential for a cloud-based on-demand scheduling and CRM platform.
“We had the technical and marketing expertise in-house, so we were very lucky in that we could get this off the ground and gain paying customers without initial outside investment,” she adds.
Fast forward to 2013 and YellowSchedule now has customers in 36 countries.
“We thought the people looking for our services were going to be largely in the private medical space, but to some extent we let the market find us,” she says.
Customers now range from counsellors, GPs and physiotherapists to golf coaches, to financial consultants and recruitment agencies. There’s even a radio station in the US using the platform.
Right now, YellowSchedule employs four people, but Skelly says the plan is to recruit technical, support and sales and marketing staff.
The company is engaged in Enterprise Ireland’s iGap programme for start-ups, a programme that Skelly says has been pivotal in helping the company develop a laser focus on its future ambitions.
YellowSchedule has also obtained a feasibility study grant from Enterprise Ireland that it has used to research its targets markets in the US and UK. On top of this, the company has just obtained €50,000 under the latest round of Enterprise Ireland’s Female Competitive Start Fund for female entrepreneurs.
Plans for this year
For 2013, Skelly says the company will be pushing forward with its product roadmap.
“That will involve putting out an API to developers, having Facebook integration, online payments and we also want to push out a mobile app and an iPad app.
“We have a very targeted pipeline of target customers that we’re working on and we’re also talking to investors at the moment. As soon as we have investment we will be able to recruit. We have our eye on several people in terms of recruiting,” she explains.
YellowSchedule is also about to go live with a white-labelled version of its product with a US partner that provides software and tools to the mental-health sector.
“Our tools will become an integrated part of their content management system for their customers,” says Skelly.
Finally, YellowSchedule will be part of a 15-company Enterprise Ireland crew heading to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, this month.
“We will be pitching to a panel that includes Dropbox, NASDAQ and venture capitalists amongst others as part of the Ireland demo sessions at the Startup Village. The networking opportunities will be fantastic,” she adds.