Gaining Momentum: Eamon Moore, Hikari Data Solutions

eamon-moore

In the latest in our series of briefings with influential Irish business leaders, we feature Eamon Moore of Hikari Data Solutions, who believes taking a chance is the route to business gain.


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Entrepreneur Eamon Moore says he’d “rather take a calculated risk and fail than do nothing and spend years ruing a wasted opportunity”. He clearly practises what he preaches – in July he sold his 15-year-old productivity and technology firm EMIT and co-founded business intelligence and data analytics specialist Hikari Data Solutions. And the new company’s immediate success suggests that if it was a risk, it’s already paying off.

What’s the unique selling point of Hikari Data Solutions?

“We specialise in business intelligence, data analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, helping companies to understand and maximise their data so they can make better business decisions. Lots of firms do that but our vertical strategy is powered by industry leaders. Our preferred model is to concentrate on specific industries and verticals allowing us to become experts in these fields rather than being too broad. We build solutions in tandem with customers using business intelligence, and data, artificial intelligence, backed by our key industry partnerships, including the likes of Microsoft – that’s what makes us unique.”

Recommended Reading: Gaining Momentum: Pat Lucey, Aspira

Who is a typical customer?

“We work with firms from several different sectors – law, accountancy, finance, retail, health care, medical. But as we focus more on vertical markets, our typical customer will certainly change. That said, our customers will always be companies which understand the value of access to real-time data, and know it’s a goldmine for gaining insights, delivering customer satisfaction and creating a profitable business.”

What do you think are the main challenges facing businesses, especially start-ups, that want to scale up?

“The biggest challenge, especially if you’re building vertical solutions, is trying to do it on your own in isolation. In our field in particular, we have always made a point of collaborating – seeking out partners for mutual benefits. We bring the tech expertise, they bring their industry intelligence – business expertise like that helps us all to grow together. It’s unrealistic to think you can scale up without reaching out for someone to take that journey with you.”

If resources are tight, how can a business square that circle?

“Whether or not resources are tight, they are an asset that needs to be given due thought – you want to maximise your opportunities. That means looking outside your home market. The rest of the world is doing Skype deals. In tech, you can’t rely on a domestic market. The world is your marketplace for both new customers and new talent.”

What about in terms of finance?

“Of course this is a challenge, but there is so much support and advice for Irish firms taking that next step. Enterprise Ireland, innovation centres and business advisory firms can all help you create those networks that can take you to the next level, but can also help you look at finance.”

What attitude should entrepreneurs have towards financial support?

“It’s always a challenge having to give away a slice of the pie in return for investment. It’s your passion and you’ve built your business so you might be reluctant to go down that route. But 100% of nothing is still nothing. If you need that investment to build your business, you have to accept you must give some of it away. 

“The ability to measure and take risks is vital for an entrepreneur – especially acknowledging that sometimes it’s a risk to stand still”

Eamon Moore, founder and CEO, Hikari Data Solutions

“That said, there are great advantages. Whether you’re relinquishing shareholding to investors, co-founders or staff share schemes, you’re taking everyone on the journey with you, so they all have skin in the game. They care about the business’s success as much as you do. And you have a network of people as determined as you are to make it work.”

What should an entrepreneur’s approach to risk be?

“As an entrepreneur everything you do is a risk because you’re the one making the decisions. It was a risk selling EMIT as it was our core business. But we’d been building up what eventually became Hikari for a few years and realised we needed to let one of them go to focus on the other. And Hikari, being the new business, with vertical solutions potential for global reach, was an exciting prospect, so we went with that.

“But taking a risk doesn’t mean being reckless. You mitigate that risk by speaking to your investors, your team and your network of business contacts to gather opinions so you can make a calculated decision. The ability to measure and take risks is vital for an entrepreneur – especially acknowledging that sometimes it’s a risk to stand still. I don’t want to pass up opportunities and spend the rest of my life thinking ‘what if?’”

How do you feel about networking?

“In these connected days of social media every one of us has global connections. And you can take advantage of these by sharing posts and spreading the word about your business. But even as our business has a more global focus, local networking is still very important. The Dublin Chamber of Commerce has been hugely beneficial in terms of helping build our PR, marketing and brand. We are all so connected that the people you network with locally no doubt have several global links.

“I do think it’s a benefit being Irish, too. The number of Irish people in senior positions across the world – particularly the US, in firms such as Microsoft – is astonishing. And there’s a great sense of community among that Irish diaspora. They’ll take a call or agree to see you because you are their countryman. As a nation, we certainly punch above our weight.”

What’s the best business tip you’ve ever received?

“Five years ago I did a diploma in cloud strategy with the Irish Management Institute and my tutor, Jonathan Westrup, advised us: ‘In formulating a business strategy it’s just as important to know what you won’t do, as what you will do.’ That has stuck with me – be clear about what is relevant to your business’s growth, development and core aims, and don’t get distracted. Lack of focus kills a lot of businesses.”

What’s next for Hikari Data Solutions?

“We’re expecting and hoping to expand as we develop vertical solutions by greater collaboration with businesses, which will then enable us to branch into other markets. I can see us having to make difficult decisions in the future. At some point someone might say, ‘We will invest but we need your core focus on this one project.’ It’s a high-class problem, but it would be nice to have it.” 

By Peter Taylor-Whiffen

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