Alarm monitoring company breaks into security market
Sean Gallagher meets small and medium sized business owners and shares the lessons they’ve learnt in building their companies
Set up in 2014 by Colm Daly, Simon Murphy and Richard Boland, HomeSecure is a relative newcomer to the home alarm monitoring sector. On track to reach 10,000 customers this year, they are already making their mark in a sector that has long been dominated by one large player. Based in Rathfarnham they employ 26 staff and have an annual turnover of more than €4.5m.
"Our focus to date has been on the residential housing market and our customers represent a mix of homeowners, landlords and tenants. Considering we are not even three years in business, we see our success to date as proof that we are delivering for our customers," says Colm, the company's CEO.
"Our systems are also the most advanced on the market offering alarm monitoring via both 3G and wifi and are app enabled, which means that they can be controlled by the customer from anywhere in the world," he adds.
Their alarm panel interface is certainly attractive and easy to use with large, easy identifiable push buttons for customers to contact the monitoring stations looking for the Gardai, fire service or medical or ambulance emergency service.
Colm grew up in Blackrock in Dublin. Having graduated with a degree in economics from UCD, he joined Smurfit Packaging where he worked for the next 10 years managing various business units between Ireland, UK and Scotland.
Married by then, he and his wife decided to return home in 2009 where he worked for a time with a pharmaceutical packaging company. Keen to get into sales and gain more management experience, he became manager of the Irish arm of a specialist customer acquisition agency, The Firm Organisation, whose feet-on-the-street sales teams sold services for companies such as Sky and Airtricity.
"That was when I first met and got to know Simon Murphy, who owned the company," says Colm. "Living in the UK, Simon grew up in Galway and is a business graduate from NUIG. In addition to his Irish business, he also has sales forces providing similar solutions in a number of other European countries but was really keen to create a standalone Irish success story."
The pair hit it off and immediately began exploring ideas for a new startup. Having assessed a number of potential opportunities, they eventually settled on the home security sector.
"The residential alarm-monitoring sector was traditionally very fragmented with one dominant player and no obvious number two. Our view was that this should not be seen as a premium product and so we saw a gap in the market to offer a quality and innovative service but at more affordable pricing for homeowners."
As a regulated market where service providers need a licence to operate, the pair joined forces with an existing licensed provider, Richard Boland of Abbeywatch and together they created Home Secure.
"Richie had previously worked in Telecom Eireann and had been running his own alarm business for 15 years, so his role and experience were key to getting the business off the ground quickly."
Other partnerships also became important such as teaming up with experienced and recognised brand names such as Chubb Ireland who became their exclusive monitoring provider and UTC Ireland who provide the company's hardware and software systems.
However, launching any new business requires investment and the home security sector is no different.
Installing a new alarm meant an upfront investment from the company in terms of both materials and labour for every new customer. With a lengthy payback period for each newly acquired customer, the business quickly become cash hungry.
With initial funding coming from Simon, the business was bootstrapped until they had proven the business model, smoothed out any startup operational issues and grown their numbers.
Earlier this year and with this initial groundwork done, they succeeded in raising €2m from a group of experienced investors, positioning themselves well for their next phase of growth.
"Scaling the business has been a rollercoaster. I can see why starting a business is often described as a bit like having a new baby because of the late nights, the stress and the sleep deprivation.
"But now seeing the business grow and our team expand, it has certainly been worth all the effort," says Colm.
"In addition to our own dedicated staff, we also work with and create incomes for an additional 60 people between our subcontracted installer base and our outsourced sales teams."
"Our plan now is to continue to grow and expand our residential customer base. In addition to monitoring a customer's home, we are also introducing a variety of smarthome technology functions that includes everything from central heating and lighting control to providing live CCTV feeds," says Colm.
"We want to move home alarms from being seen as separate stand-alone systems to where they become 'hub in the home'. While currently focused on the residential market, we also plan on entering the commercial-SME market later this year," he adds.
Colm is a bright, articulate and intensely focused entrepreneur. He and his partners have shown great wisdom, clarity and strategic thinking in their approach to the business.
They initially identified a clearly defined and specific market segment. Next they partnered with an existing licensed provider to offer a quick and affordable entry into that market.
They teamed up with recognised and respected partners which gave them immediate credibility and from there worked incredibly hard to grow and scale the business before going out to raise expansion capital.
With the groundwork now done, the company looks to be well on its way to its stated objective of becoming a key player in the home security space.
For further information see homesecure.ie
Sunday Indo Business