Ireland has never seen greater start-up energy than in recent years and if 2013 is anything to go by, the pipeline is strong for the future. Based on our own gut and the start-up stories most read by you, dear audience, we picked the start-ups we believe might soar in 2014.
Without a doubt the start-up we deemed to have made the most impact locally and globally in the shortest possible period has had to be Cork start-up Trustev. Less than 12 months since launching at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City, Trustev has grown from four employees to 15. The company has also won the European Commission’s Tech All-Star Award, the result of an EU-wide search to find the best young technology start-up.
At the Dublin Web Summit in October, the company made European start-up history by raising the largest seed funding round in the region.
The company closed a US$3m seed-funding round from US venture capital fund Greycroft Partners, Mangrove Capital Partners, ACT Venture Capital, Telefónica’s Wayra and Enterprise Ireland.
The US$3m seed round will finance Trustev’s accelerated expansion to the United States, where the company will soon open an office in New York City, as well as further the development of Trustev’s anti-fraud and payment-protection solutions for e-commerce.
This feat of funding was followed in recent weeks by the closure of an additional US$500,000 round involving Notion Capital.
According to research by eMarketer, global e-commerce sales are expected to reach nearly US$1.3trn in 2013, making online fraud prevention an urgent and important requirement for any merchant.
Trustev addresses this by using multiple dynamic data sources to independently verify a user’s identity on e-commerce sites. This guarantees online merchants that they are dealing with actual customers and not fraudsters.
Mcor Technologies founders Conor and Fintan MacCormack
Another company already beginning to achieve world fame and market domination in its respective field is Louth-based Mcor Technologies, a company founded by brothers Conor and Fintan McCormack.
Mcor Technologies has developed 3D printing machines that use one of the most affordable materials around – A4 paper.
Having already raised €2m in funding, the company is now in negotiations to raise a further €15m-€20m from some of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms.
Mcor Technologies this year reported that sales of its low-cost eco-friendly printers are up 600pc year-on-year. The company’s flagship IRIS full-colour 3D printer can deliver more than 1m colours simultaneously and produce a 3D printed model at 5pc of the cost of competing printers, according to Mcor.
Retail giant Staples has forged an alliance with Mcor Technologies to launch a 3D printing service, beginning in the Netherlands. The service will allow students, designers and consumers to print photorealistic 3D items in Staples stores.
John McKiernan, strategic partnership development manager with ESB, and Grainne Barron from Viddyad, the 2013 ESB Spark of Genius Award winner
Winner of the 2013 ESB Spark of Genius Award, beating off competition from 100 Irish technology companies, Viddyad is a cloud-based video ad-creation tool with access to more than 10m videos and images. Users can simply select the videos and images, add text, logo, music and special effects, and the Viddyad platform creates a video commercial in seconds for use online, through social media, blogs or websites.
Viddyad, led by CEO Grainne Barron, has struck a deal with imagery giant Getty Images that will enable small businesses around the world to create their own video ads online within a minute.
Almost 25pc of all online videos viewed are now ads, according to comScore. In 2012, online video ad volume grew 46pc, a rate that is continuing throughout 2013.
With Viddyad, small and medium-sized businesses can tap into this market to promote their companies and products with professional video ads, and generate leads for their sales pipelines.
Using Viddyad, business owners simply pick the content they want, add text, music and their logo, and the video ad is automatically created in seconds.
Enda Keane, CEO, Treemetrics, with Ireland’s Minister of State for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, TD, in woodland at Blarney Castle
What do you get if you cross two foresters with a damn fine digital idea? A company called Treemetrics.
The company founded by Enda Keane and Garret Mullooly aims to replace traditional callipers and measuring tape used by foresters with technology to measure forests before trees are cut down.
According to the company, its 3D laser scanners can quickly and accurately measure the shape, size and straightness of standing trees. The goal is to allow foresters to use this 3D data to predict the quantities of log products that each tree can produce. Another aim of the technology is offer a better way of managing forests and reducing the unnecessary cutting down of trees.
Earlier this year, start-up supremo Dylan Collins joined the company as chairman. Then, the European Space Agency awarded Treemetrics an €800,000 contract to carry out a satellite forestry monitoring research project.
Treemetrics is also planning to take on 10 new software engineers at its Cork facility.
Bartek Czerwinski, who was born in Poland, and Canadian-born Frédéric Herrera who has been living and working in Ireland for the past 13 years and has just become an Irish citizen
Videobot is a new mobile video platform company that is headquartered in Dundalk, Co Louth. The venture has been co-founded by Irish-Canadian Frédéric Herrera, and Bartek Czerwinski, who hails from Poland. Videobot has launched an app in both Android and iOS, and has clients lined up in the corporate space who are ready to use vbot.
Czerwinski and Herrera describe their vbot platform as the ‘YourTube’ for corporates instead of YouTube, as it enables both businesses and organisations to control advertising and monetise from content views.
Videobot is in Enterprise Ireland HPSU [high-potential start-up] feasibility mode and is plotting a global mission to disrupt the way SMEs and large corporations record, manage and play back videos via smartphones, tablets, and web applications, especially in areas such as brand communications, entertainment, news reporting, e-commerce, and recruiting.
From left: Chris Dalton, Stephen Sharpe, Paul Allen (CEO and founder), Kevin Sanderson (COO), Alex Hanley and Danielle Healy
Noob Gaming is a Co Cork-based e-sports and gaming event organiser and online community, which is focusing on both the Irish and international competitive video-game industry. Founded and led by Paul Allen, a duty manager with the multinational business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Voxpro, Noob Gaming now has its sights set on becoming a high-potential start-up (HPSU) in Ireland, so it can create jobs in the coding space and, eventually, go global.
With more and more indie game developers cropping up around Ireland, Noob Gaming is on a mission to help such gamers connect with one another and with the industry itself, while also allowing gamers to engage in a bit of social wagers and hang out online in a social community to thrash out ideas and make connections.
Allen set up Noob Gaming last year. The platform went into beta mode in November 2012 and, after being tested by the start-up team, industry, and e-sports gamers alike, Noob Gaming exited beta mode in March 2013.
Brett Meyers, co-founder and CEO, CurrencyFair.com
CurrencyFair.com is a Dublin-headquartered venture that has created a peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace model for people to transfer money between different currencies online – taking banks out of the equation. CurrencyFair has also just raised €1.9m in an investment round.
CurrencyFair, which was launched in 2010, employs 24 people, but the plan is to scale fast and employ up to 30 people by 2014.
The company was founded by Brett Meyers from Perth, Australia, Sean Barrett who is based in Newcastle, just north of Sydney, Australia, and Jonathan Potter, who is based in CurrencyFair’s London office.
In terms of the €1.9m (US$2.5m) funding CurrencyFair has just raised, the Irish-based venture capital (VC) firm FrontLine Ventures led the funding round, with a number of other angel investors making up the rest of the investment.
Since it first launched, CurrencyFair has secured more than €3m (US$4m) in funding and transferred €600m globally for its customers, saving them an estimated €25m in what would have been spent on bank fees, according to Meyers.
Now, the plan is for CurrencyFair to leverage the investment to bring out product enhancements and new features that will provide customers with a better online experience when transferring money.
FoodCloud is a Dublin-based social enterprise set up by students that via a smartphone app links businesses that have surplus food to charities and local community groups.
The core team consists of Iseult Ward (founder), Emma Mooney (operations) and Alex Sloan (communications), as well as a dozen volunteers, and the company is a winner of the SEI ‘Minnovation Award’.
The team uses its technology to connect a rich network of local businesses and community organisations to ensure surplus food goes to the right places without the need for a physical food bank.
Using the app or the website, businesses who have registered with FoodCloud can upload details of their surplus food and the time period in which the food can be collected.
The app then automatically sends a text message to the nearest community organisation in that area and they can collect the food. If the organisation rejects the offer it is then sent to the next nearest organisation and so on.
Oliver Mooney, founder of GetBulb, and Jane Ruffino, chief marketing officer at the start-up
With the growing popularity of infographics, GetBulb is on a mission to make data visualisation more compelling via its tool – a HTML5 app that can be downloaded for any modern desktop web browser.
Mooney set out to develop a tool targeted at helping analysts express data insights visually.
GetBulb helps people with sets of data tell visual stories about that data. These range from simple visualisations to full-blown infographics. The charts that GetBulb creates will work across web and print.
GetBulb has a gallery of templates that people can choose from. Users can also add additional data sets using the app’s visual elements and layout tools to tell a larger story or to compare and contrast different sets of data. There is also the scope to add in corporate logos and images.
Rory O’Connor, founder and CEO, Scurri.com, and Sonya Hogan, the company’s CTO
Scurri is 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 in recent months.
Based in Duncannon in south Co Wexford, Scurri was incubated in the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).
O’Connor set up Scurri as a platform to give companies online management tools. The goal of these tools is to allow such companies to connect to and manage the most suitable and cost-effective transport providers, he says.
Last year, Scurri received boost when it secured €600,000 in an investment round involving four angel investors and Enterprise Ireland. The funding enabled Scurri to scale up its employee headcount, and the company is still scaling on the back of the investment.
CloudDock developer Padraig Harley, CEO Cian Brassil and chief marketing officer Scott Kennedy
CloudDock, a start-up based at Dublin’s NDRC and founded by a group of NUIG graduates, has come up with an ingenious way of making it easier for users of services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive to manage all their cloud services in one place.
CloudDock is the brainchild of CEO Cian Brassil, CMO Scott Kennedy and lead developer Padraic Harley.
CloudDock is a file syncronisation platform that makes cloud storage compatible between any provider.
At the moment CloudDock is at private beta stage and will be gradually releasing to the backlog of beta users currently signed up.
“Our application is vendor agnostic, which means you can work with anyone, no matter what platform they’re using,” explained Brassil. “Whatever service you choose – Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box to name a few – you can collaborate with anyone, on any other service.
“We are targeting people who are using multiple cloud storage accounts for collaboration. Cloud storage services now have over 625 million users with that set to double to 1.3 billion users by 2017.
“Through our research we found that 75pc of people have accounts on multiple cloud storage services, with 68pc of those using multiple services for collaboration. At CloudDock we are primarily targeting cloud storage users in businesses that are external facing, working with clients on different cloud storage services,” Brassil said.