Less than a year in existence, software start-up Sitedesk.ie is already preparing to launch in the Middle East, where it hopes sales will fuel ambitious growth plans.
Established in August of last year, Sitedesk sells a web and wireless solution for on-site inspections in the lifting and rigging industries.
The company has just agreed a distribution agreement with an existing British customer to begin selling its software to customers in the Middle East.
"Given the current economic climate in Ireland and the UK, this is a good route to market for us. It gets us sales and revenue coming in, and gives us the capability to build our product development team," said Sitedesk director Trevor O'Connell.
O'Connell has equally ambitious plans for the company in markets closer to home. "Within 18 months, we aim to be the main supplier of inspection software to the lifting and rigging inspection industry in Ireland and the UK," he said.
"We also plan to extend our product line to include other areas of inspection and safety compliance and embrace technologies such as wearable devices and intelligent wireless sensor networks."
O'Connell established Sitedesk with co-director Eoin Harris in August of last year. The company plans to take on its first staff in the coming weeks, who will be based at new offices in Tom Crean Centre in Tralee.
"We have advertised for a marketing person and a software developer. Everything is happening very fast for us," said O'Connell.
"We got our first Irish customer in February and our first UK customer, Rossendale Group, in May. We are currently expanding our UK customer base."
O'Connell said the development of the product had been aided by a Kerry Enterprise Board 'grow your business' course, which taught the importance of developing a working model to show customers.
"Once we had completed our initial market research, we immediately set about developing a prototype. Within six weeks we had a working system which combined RFID, barcode, rugged hand-held computers and the web," said O'Connell.
SiteDesk uses a recurring revenue model to grow the company without external funding.
"Our original view was that to grow an international customer base we needed to get €250,000 up front. Our minds have changed on that. We put our own money in and plan to grow it organically through sales," he said.
"We get a payment upfront to set up the system, and then a fixed fee per month, depending on the number of inspectors and clients a customer has. The average contract value is €700 per month. Over a three to five year timeframe, that gives a value of €50,000 to €60,000."
O'Connell said that the SmallBusinessCan.com website had been useful for SiteDesk. "We have posted questions on the discussion group and used a Growth Centre template to help us prioritise product features for our first customers," he said.
"We are using a SmallBusinessCan.com checklist mechanism to evaluate potential distribution partners."