Friday 30 September 2016

We made a good call developing our mobile phones app

Published 13/08/2015 | 02:30

John Hargan, Robert Leonard, Dr. Bart Lehane (Founder), Ciarán Tobin (Founder), Sierra Riemer, Dr. Shane Lynn (Founder) of new startup, KillBiller
John Hargan, Robert Leonard, Dr. Bart Lehane (Founder), Ciarán Tobin (Founder), Sierra Riemer, Dr. Shane Lynn (Founder) of new startup, KillBiller

Bart Lehane (33) is the co-founder of KillBiller, an app that helps Irish people find the cheapest phone plan.

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"I met my co-founders Shane Lynn and Ciaran Tobin at a startup weekend called Launch 48 in the Guinness Enterprise Centre.

I began my career as a software developer but had moved into a product manager role at my old job, and wanted to develop a side project that brought me back to software.

The three of us started talking about a problem Shane had been having: picking a mobile phone plan. By the end of the weekend we hatched a business idea around it.

Irish people waste millions every year overspending on their mobile phone bills when there are cheaper plans available that still meet their usage needs. They save an average of €292 per year when they change plans, yet only 9pc switch. We realised there was an opportunity for an independent service that helped people identify the right plan.

We started out with an Android-only app, which only examined bill pay plans, and launched it last year. We used that as a gauge of demand for our service. It was a success; the app has been used 30,000 times since launch. We later rolled out a version for iPhone, and recently included pay-as-you go plans in the mix. That was complicated, because there are lots of variables for those type of plans, with lots of add-ones, but we managed it.

Our main source of revenue is lead generation for networks, rather than advertising. We charge a commission when people switch networks using our phones. We haven't quite got contracts with all the networks, but we are getting there.

It's a model that requires scale to make money from, so we are already looking at expanding overseas. We have our sights on Canada first, where a recent legislation change means the market is ripe for a service like ours. Then probably the UK.

It's still early days, though we are further along than we thought we would be. We are supported by Enterprise Ireland, who gave us a €50,000 cash injection as part of its competitive feasibility programme.

The biggest challenge has been marketing. We are techie people; we naively assumed the marketing side look after itself. We have had to work hard on promoting the app.

We underestimated that demand the most. We do it all in-house. But that variety is also the thing I love the most.

From marketing to writing code to talking to journalists, every day is different."

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