Wednesday 26 April 2017

From bike locks to search-and-rescue drones... 20 firms to watch

Robotory Game Credit: 9th Impact
Robotory Game Credit: 9th Impact
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Last week, Enterprise Ireland identified 229 young companies that received €32m in supporting investment.

These included 128 companies under its Competitive Start Fund (CSF) and 13 under its New Frontiers programme. Here, we look at 20 start-ups to watch from the CSF and New Frontiers batch.

1. RealSpeaker (Galway)

Founders: Aliya Musina, Pavel Pogodin, Viktor Osetrov.

CultureArk's Adrian Legg and Deirdre Ní Luasaigh have created platforms that automatically preserve social media posts for clients
CultureArk's Adrian Legg and Deirdre Ní Luasaigh have created platforms that automatically preserve social media posts for clients

What it does: Audiovisual enhancement for speech recognition systems.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Better voice-to-text services remain a holy grail for all types of professionals, from transcription services to the legal sector. This company seems to have some interesting technology around this area, supporting four different languages.

2. BikesBooking.com (Dublin)

Founders: Anton Shreider and Tatiana Skorniakova.

What it does: The start-up provides a global booking service for bikes, scooters and motorbikes. It also offers verified reviews.

Reason to keep an eye on it: It has expanded to offer a rentals service in 1,760 locations (although not in Ireland).

3. Overcast HQ (Dublin)

Founders: Philippe Brodeur, Zsolt Lorincz and Samantha Brodeur.

Mark Bennett and Wawrzyniec Wawro, co-founders of BikeLook, one of the companies that Enterprise Ireland invested in
Mark Bennett and Wawrzyniec Wawro, co-founders of BikeLook, one of the companies that Enterprise Ireland invested in

What it does: This is a software-as-a-service online platform that aims to make managing professional TV and video content "as easy as it is to manage a Word document". It includes collaboration, approval and sharing processes.

Reason to keep an eye on it: When done right, software services that target specific industrial sectors have a better chance of success than general application software. It recently raised €500,000 and announced plans to hire 70 people.

4. Assure Hedge (Dublin)

Founder: Barry McCarthy.

What it does: Foreign exchange hedging technology that helps big companies like banks to automate foreign exchange hedging processes and smaller companies to buffer against currency volatility.

Reason to keep an eye on it: The company is believed to be close to a significant announcement.

5. Storystock.com (Kerry)

Founder: Francis Fitzgibbon.

What it does: It provides an online repository for freelance journalists, videographers, writers and artists who have a chance to see their work licensed.

Reason to keep an eye on it: There is still a gap for a high-quality online portal that matches good writers and content providers with good, paying clients.

6. 9th Impact (Galway)

Founders: Mark Quick, Finn Krewer and Fabio Stara.

What it does: Designs, builds and publishes games for phones and tablets.

Reason to keep an eye on it: It is focused on licensing partnerships with international TV studios.

7. BikeLook (Dublin)

Founders: Mark Bennett and Wawrzyniec Wawro.

What it does: Makes a sensor-enabled theft detection system that alerts users when their bicycle is being tampered with. It also has tech to provide cities with heat maps and real-time "smart city" information on cycle trips.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Bike theft is a €10m problem in Dublin. The company is targeting civic authorities to help maximise infrastructure investment.

8. Workjuggle.com (Dublin)

Founder: Ciara Garvan, Nuala Lonergan and Georgina Naughton.

What it does: This is an online platform to connect job hunters with more than seven years' experience in technology or management consulting with employers looking for flexible workers.

Reason to keep an eye on it: There's a fast-growing base of mature, experienced professionals who don't want five-day, nine-to-five jobs. There is also a broader base of employers who are comfortable with engaging workers on this basis. This could be an excellent resource to connect the two pools.

9. FoodPlus Market (no office yet)

Founders: Gregor Pecnik and Dalibor Matijevic.

What it does: FoodPlus is a business-to-business service for the sale of surplus food. It uses algorithms to link sellers to buyers and facilitates transactions. It also enables integration with companies' existing management systems to identify potential food surplus.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Food waste comes at a big financial and environmental cost to a wide variety of companies and organisations.

10. DroneSAR (Dublin)

Founders: Oisin McGrath and Gearóid O'Briain.

What it does: The company's software turns basic commercial drones into search-and-rescue tools. Its app allows drones to fly automated search grids, equipped with a customised sensor, in any weather and at any light level.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Drone regulation is advancing rapidly and DroneSAR has a partnership in place with the world's largest commercial drone manufacturer, DJI.

11. Fuseami (Waterford)

Founders: Michael Fennelly and Kevin Doolin.

What it does: It makes an app that helps people network better at conferences through intelligent discovery, including attendees' online social profiles. It charges conference organisers for providing the app.

Reason to keep an eye on it: From the hugely successful TSSG hub in Waterford, this company already has a number of large conferences using its technology and it has a patent pending.

12. Clicargo (Dublin)

Founders: Simon Tobin and Thilo Rusche.

What it does: Clicargo is a digital freight brokerage. It automates large parts of freight processing and adds in tracking technology.

Reason to keep an eye on it: The company is backed by a serial technical entrepreneur (Rusche) and an experienced freight manager (Tobin).

13. Idle Birch (Dublin)

Founders: Victoria MacArthur and Nick Grey.

What it does: The start-up is developing games in 3D and virtual reality for consoles. It hand paints some of the content.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Virtual reality is one of the fastest-expanding areas of gaming.

14. JamForest (Cork)

Founder: Grace Tooher.

What it does: JamForest styles itself as a talent-matching app for musicians. Users can set preferences by instrument, genre, age, gender and distance so that the start-up's algorithm returns profiles including matched musicians' SoundCloud accounts and YouTube videos.

Reason to keep an eye on it: It's a quirky concept whose utilisation doesn't depend on large commercial promotion.

15. Ludex (Dublin)

Founders: Lucy Clancy and Declan Hoare.

What it does: Ludex uses IBM technology to help retrieve documents, pages or answers quickly within companies. It uses artificial intelligence to mould this technology into enterprise applications.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Its first application to market, Agent Assist, is targeting call centres, which remains a booming industry.

16. EuroComply (Dublin)

Founder: Emerald de Leeuw.

What it does: The start-up provides software that assesses, tracks and demonstrates data protection compliance.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Data protection compliance is big news (and big business) this year. In 2018, the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will kick in, with huge new fines and penalties for organisations that go on ignoring proper procedures.

17. CultureArk (Sherkin Island, Cork)

Founders: Adrian Legg and Deirdre Ní Luasaigh.

What it does: CultureArk is an online archiving start-up that is targeting companies and organisations that need digital archiving for compliance reasons.

Reason to keep an eye on it: It claims that its FileArk and SocialArk platforms automatically capture and preserve social media posts and tweets for client organisations, putting them ahead in compliance technology.

Its clients can dial up any previous post, tweet or comment in the appropriate format.

18. Roborzoid (Cork)

Founders: Oleg Iskra, Gleb Reys and Mansur Suleman

What it does: It is developing a platform for managing voice and gesture-controlled intelligent devices and services.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Its voice recognition platform aims to connect voice commands to objects for hands-free access. Its targeted user demographic ranges from people with disabilities to parents and telehealth.

19. WeSavvy (Dublin)

Founder: Hesus Inoma

What it does: WeSavvy is a digital insurance product that captures and aggregates lifestyle data from consumer platforms, apps, wearables and social media. It then turns this data into insights for banks, brokers and insurers.

Reason to keep an eye on it: Financial service providers are always looking for new ways to keep track of, and engage with, their customers.

20. Promo Pads (Dublin)

Founders: Diarmuid Murphy, Manuela Bologheanu

What it does: Using point-of-sale advertising technology, this start-up calls itself the first global "Internet of things advertising network". It has launched with a custom tabletop point of sale system that lets customers order and pay directly using the tabletop menu without leaving their seat.

Reason to keep an eye on it: It has lined up its regulatory ducks and formed trading partnerships with big hardware providers.

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