Safecility

Founders: Cian O Flaherty
 
Number of Staff: 6
 
Start Date: 2017-07-17
 
Tell us what your business does?
Safecility is your building compliance concierge. We create safer buildings and make life easier for asset owners through IoT technology. Safecility automates emergency lighting and other legally required testing making compliance quick and effortless. We handle the pain of testing and reporting to improve safety, free up company resources, save money and reduce carbon emissions. Think of Safecility as a dedicated compliance buddy locally managing your buildings so you don’t have to.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I had previous experience in lighting and building efficiency but the kernel of Safecility was developed the idea as part of the NDRC Ireland Funds Business Plan competition. The structured customer discovery helped us to engage with our customers and refine our idea to the point we had something that would sell. Ultimately our product automates legally required testing and saves countless thousands of person-hours and expensive data ingestion per year.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes
What planning did you do before you started up?
Prior to trading, we did extensive customer discovery with our target market. We spoke to people who managed estates and were in charge of keeping tenants and residents safe. The New Frontiers programme and NDRC Business Plan Competition gave us a structure to follow which has proven invaluable to our business success.
Which entrepreneurs do you admire?
Iseult Ward, Joshua Wong & Agnes Chow
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Securing funding for a hardware startup is extremely challenging. We have had to work very hard to secure funding that allowed us time to develop and launch our Safecility emergency lighting system. To do that we had to work on funding applications and tenders for H2020 and ESA support instead of direct investment. Grant funding and non-dilutive capital have given us a two year runway to develop hardware and now that we have traction we are much better positioned to secure investment.
How have you promoted your business?
Our marketing budget is very constrained because of the challenges of resourcing an early stage hardware startup. Content and social media have been a big part of our marketing strategy. Attracting interest from key people in our target organisations has been crucial to securing early traction. Following the advise to own our niche and go deep has been beneficial to us in winning early business in Ireland and the UK.
Where do you see the business in 3 years’ time?
We are planning to expand our offer across the EU over the coming three years. Our team are incredibly talented and we plan to continue to solve problems that make buildings and communities safer through technology. Expanding our feature set and our geography should lift our headcount from the current six towards about 30 in the next three years.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
It’s an incredibly tough thing to start and run your own business. There is no shame in failure, you are going to learn lessons that will stand you a lifetime. But always make sure you are not on your own – have people you can speak frankly with, can ask for help and advice from and don’t feel you have to hide quite how challenging it is to juggle all of the roles a founder takes on.

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