The start-up story in Ireland is proving to be a really positive one - with latest figures reflecting a performance that hasn't been seen for almost 20 years.
As the number of new startup companies in Ireland has risen past the 20,000 mark for the first time in almost two decades, we speak to OCREX founder to hear about his early beginnings.
A Dubliner born and bred, Brendan Woods quit his job in 2011 to focus on a concept he had which involved providing intelligent software solutions for accountants and bookkeepers.
"Having already worked in software development for 10 years, I had first hand experience of the impact emerging and disruptive technologies were having on business practices and the opportunities that were becoming possible," the Trinity College Dublin graduate told independent.ie.
"Whilst working for a leading financial services company, one area that jumped out at me was the cost of manually re-entering data from paper documents in the bookkeeping and accounts preparation industry. Realising that there was a gap in the market, I founded OCREX to address an appetite for an intelligent, yet cost effective data automation solution for accountants and bookkeepers that were servicing the SME market."
From just himself and one senior software developer, OCREX now have a team of 10 in our Dublin HQ as well as another six sales staff in the UK.
From the development of the firm's first commercial solution, the current refined offering helps turn the manual entry of data, from a process of hours and days - to just minutes - saving SMEs huge amounts of time and resource.
"The technology provides users with significant cost and time savings whilst also eliminating the traditional side effect of human error arising from manual data entry," he said.
"Our customers, which has since grown to be a collection of over 2,000 accounting and bookkeeping firms, now benefit from not only largely eliminating their direct data entry related costs of provisioning their service to their SME clients, but also in terms of service turnaround times, workflow visibility, document collection, document storage and general interaction with their clients."
Woods is excited for what 2017 will bring for OCREX - which secured secured High Potential Start Up (HPSU) seed funding from Enterprise Ireland - and intends to continue the company's growth in the UK while also establishing a significant presence in some target international markets.
"In the UK, there are significant changes on the way for these taxpayers over the next few years," he said.
"These changes will require a large portion of UK taxpayers to digitally file tax returns quarterly, whereas now, they only have to file a non-digital tax return annually. This is expected to drive the greatest growth in demand for accounting automation solutions and it is likely only a matter of time before we see similar requirements being introduced in other countries.
"With this in mind, and in light of existing plans to enter into additional international markets, we expect to secure a new round of funding in the first half of 2017 to expedite growth".
Brendan has a background of over fifteen years in enterprise software development, most notably in financial services and healthcare.