Our start-up of the week is Veri Integrated Training, a new software company enabling compliance in the training industry.
Veri Integrated Training is the brainchild of training expert Ann-Marie McSorley.
She has been at the helm of iResource Education and Training since 2008 and was previously a team leader for Compass Catering, as well as various local district councils and the NSPCC in Northern Ireland for 15 years.
‘We want to provide an end-to-end solution for training providers in the delivery of quality assured training’
– ANN-MARIE MCSORLEY
“The new software takes the pain and paper out of compliance and quality assurance in the growing training industry and will ensure the highest industry standards are met,” McSorley said.
“The problem we solve is the huge workload and the ad hoc and chaotic nature of quality assurance for training providers, be they corporate, private, public or voluntary.
“They want to be accredited as industry/government recognised leaders in their field, but this costs time and money and often is a useless paper tick-box exercise.
“Veri streamlines the QA process on a live online dashboard. Unlike paper, Excel and learning management systems, it puts the focus on the frontline tutor/outsourced training provider, making them accountable for achieving the learning outcomes for their learners, not for turning up with a deck of slides.
“Veri Integrated Training gets your QA from A to B in order to achieve the expensive but necessary C for compliance.”
McSorley explained that while everyone is aware of primary, secondary and third-level education, the fourth pillar of further education and training is often overlooked in the broader conversation.
Veri’s technology covers Further Education & Training (FET) and that includes everything from industry accredited CPD to QQI (old Fetac) in Ireland, and City and Guilds in the UK.
In Ireland, currently, there is a new framework being rolled out via the Education and Training Board (ETB) tenders which put quality assurance to the forefront.
McSorley estimates that this market is worth €32m over four years to about 50 private contracted providers .
“This is just one small segment that can benefit hugely and we have six large private training providers signed up. The equivalent UK market is worth £2.9bn.”
“Barrow Training is our first client and it achieved ISO 2015 this year.
“We have just agreed to work with The Irish Times Training, and we are negotiating with the Irish Red Cross at present; both are leaders in this area.
“We are working with the South East Training Collaborative group for their ETB tender. Our sales pipeline is jam-packed and currently, there is just not enough time to get out to all those that are interested such as corporates, voluntary, public sector and private providers.”
McSorley has a 15-year background in training functions in the UK and Ireland in the public and private sector.
She was commercial director of NIIHS, a €1m event in 2006 and 2007, that was held at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast.
She relocated to the Republic of Ireland in 2007 and was a FETAC coordinator until she set up her training business in 2008.
Shane Barron, CTO, developed the new version of the software and is now a director of the company.
Shane was lead developer with Hostelworld, an Irish company that recently raised €180m in an IPO. In the past, he developed software with Sonru and Unum, as well as Perfumeireland.com and Toodle.com.
McSorley explained that the software is cloud-based and hosted on Amazon Web Services.
It is encrypted with RapidSSL technology and uses Mandrill and Timeform for tracking and evaluation.
User experience and design was done with help from Carlow IT and McSorley said that the next step will involve data analytics development, in association with North West Regional College in Derry.
“There is a lot of substandard training both on and offline. We want to provide an end-to-end solution for training providers in the delivery of quality-assured training and to improve FET for learners worldwide.”
The company’s product began beta testing in February.
“We had a small investment and some LEO funding for capital in the summer, and we officially launched in September. We are aiming for 20 clients by Christmas, for cash flow with investment early in 2017.”
“I was lucky to have had New Frontiers in Carlow IT and now Niamh Collins and Mary Cronin at DCU Ryan Academy for support,” McSorley said.
“I also sought a personal friend as a mentor and their consistency has been massively important in my self-belief since this time last year.
McSorley describes the start-up scene in Ireland as competitive and sometimes overwhelming.
“Without confidence, you have no chance.”
Her advice for other tech start-ups: “Get out of the office, get plenty [of] industry advice and plenty of mentors. All might give you one thing you can do better, but be open.
“Also, don’t give up until clients say they don’t want it. Sales are where it’s at.”