Here are 14 brilliant Irish-based and Irish-led businesses that are growing despite the turbulence caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The damage done to businesses across the spectrum of sectors because of Covid-19 is catastrophic. 

All eyes are on the rebound and recovery but the real litmus test is whether firms currently affected by the lockdown have the resilience and fortitude to get through this time and emerge on the other side.

In spite of what is happening, there are many businesses that are going against the grain and are in growth mode. In many cases, such as e-commerce, cybersecurity or remote working technologies, this is their time. Others are boldly proceeding with plans to make a difference in the world. Others are attracting funding based on their innovation and vision.

Here are 14 Irish, Irish-led or Irish-based businesses that are growing despite the uncertain times.

Arkphire

Man in blue suit with woman in red dress.

Pictured: Arkphire CEO Paschal Naylor with Trilogy Technologies’ Edel Creely who has joined the board of Arkphire.

Arkphire is an Irish IT services business that is growing locally and globally in spite of the ongoing pandemic.

Late last year, Arkphire acquired Trilogy Technologies to create the largest and fastest growing Irish headquartered IT procurement and IT managed services business. Following this acquisition, the newly enlarged group became the largest and fastest growing Irish headquartered IT procurement and IT managed services business with combined revenues close to €150m and employing 220 people.

In recent days it became clear that Arkphire’s growth story continues with the news that it has acquired Singapore-based IT solutions and services company Generic Technologies for an undisclosed sum. Generic Technologies is a specialist Apple Authorised Reseller and an Adobe Gold partner with annual turnover of 9 million Singapore dollars (€5.85m).

Buymie

A shopping trolley filled with goods sits on top of a computer keyboard.

Buymie has created a platform using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, that enables consumers to access multiple large grocery retailers and receive short notice delivery to their chosen destination in as little as an hour.

In recent days it emerged that the company has raised €2.2m from existing and new investors and has entered into a multi-year partnership agreement with Lidl Ireland, where it will provide a personalised online grocery service for the retailer.

Consumers are also able to use their Buymie application to shop from Tesco in Ireland. Currently, the Buymie service is available to more than 490,000 households across Dublin as well large towns in Kildare and Wicklow.

Carbery

Man in blue suit, red tie.

Carbery Group CEO Jason Hawkins

For Cork-based food business Carbery Group its diversification into cheese products like mozzarella is a tasty move.

Growth in its nutrition business and a diversification into cheese production has seen the company grow turnover 3pc to €434m for 2019.

Carbery Group CEO Jason Hawkins said that the cheese diversification investment of €78m has demanded a significant amount of energy and focus and while slightly delayed, expect the new mozzarella line will be operational in 2020.

“Like all processors, we are closely monitoring volatile dairy markets across the world,” Hawkins commented.

DataSolutions

Smiling man in blue jacket sitting among green seats in a stadium.

Michael O’Hara, managing director, DataSolutions

Now entering its 30th year in business Dublin-based IT services company DataSolutions has set its sights on further growth in both the Irish and UK markets by 2022.

In recent weeks the company reported €74m in turnover for its most recent financial year, signifying a 57pc increase.

Having entered the UK market in 2016, its operations there now account for 50pc of the overall business.

DataSolutions attributes its success to its dedication to delivering technical expertise and transformational technologies in the areas of mobility and IT security.

Digital Construction Technologies

Dark haired man in a suit.

Joseph Mady, CEO of DCT

Joseph Mady, a former electrician, used the last recession as a springboard to build a unique and growing consultancy called Digital Construction Technologies that is leading the future of construction through Building Information Modelling (BIM).

The company enables building contractors to work from virtual models of construction projects and reduce waste and labour costs.

With BIM skills in short supply, DCT helps mechanical and electrical contractors design and deliver complex projects not only in Ireland but also in Denmark, the Netherlands and other European regions

“BIM is central to every construction project,” Mady told ThinkBusiness. “Any building project you work on today project managers will not build without seeing how it works in the virtual model because they want to de-risk projects as much as possible to reduce waste and labour costs

DPD

Two men in courier uniforms with one man in a suit holding a parcel.

Des Travers, CEO of DPD Ireland (centre) with drivers Francis Bradley and Tom Searle. Image: Paul Sherwood

Ireland’s largest parcel delivery company DPD recently revealed plans to hire 100 extra staff amid Covid-19 surge in demand with a spike in deliveries of electrical goods, pet food and orders for gym equipment.

DPD Ireland’s chief executive Des Travers said its volumes have “gone through the roof” with deliveries of electrical goods up 800pc, pet food up 300pc, and sports equipment up 225pc.

“Parcel volumes have exceeded those handled on Black Friday weekend 2019, said Travers, “with the company experiencing its busiest parcel volume throughput ever through its Athlone Central Sortation hub on Tuesday.

“In the last month we have increased the number of drivers in the network by 115 to 1,100. However, that’s not enough, we need more.”

ECI Energy

Fleet of vehicles from the 1960s.

The ECI Lighting fleet in the 1960s.

ECI Energy, an energy services subsidiary of the ECI Lighting family business that has been keeping Ireland lit up for more than 60 years, is investing in a new strategy to deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging stations around Ireland.

ECI Lighting was established in 1960 by the Hanratty Family. Its ECI Energy subsidiary, which was spun out as a subsidiary in 2018, has allocated to deploy commercial and industrial clients a best-in-class network of charging stations.

Its new ‘Electric Vehicle charging as a Service’ agreement will cover a three-year period during which the client will be able to charge EV vehicles on their sites either for their own fleet or for their visitors. There is also an option to bill tenants or car park users with intelligent cloud-based software which is included in the offering. The fee will start from just €7 per day (plus VAT) per charger.

“The energy business has allowed ECI Lighting to diversify in the energy services space and partially transform from a 60-year-old product-only company to a dynamic services-based business,” explained ECI Energy director Mark Connolly.

Fidelity Investments Ireland

Fidelity Investments window sign.

Fidelity Investments Ireland has revealed it is to create 100 tech jobs in Dublin and Galway and that it will rely on virtual processes to hire during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The company is accelerating hiring for the software engineering roles. Virtual processes to bring employees into the firm include virtual onboarding, training, flexibility on working from home and safety supports.

“Fidelity Ireland continues to provide critical technology and operations support to the firm,” said Al Riviezzo, general manager of Fidelity Investments Ireland. “All of our 1,100-strong workforce are working from home across Ireland and ready to welcome new colleagues to support our expanding need for tech skills and talent we have based here in Ireland.”

Glofox

Woman exercising in front of a laptop.

Dublin gym management software company Glofox has just raised $10m (€9.2m) in funding as well as the launch of a new platform that enables gyms and fitness studios to deliver live streaming and premium on-demand content. The $10m funding brings total funding raised by Glofox to $23m.

Glofox’s new platform and funding will enable fitness businesses to keep operating remotely and fulfill their customer fitness needs online during Covid-19 and thrive in a new fitness industry with a stronger digital element in the future.

“Covid-19 has transformed the fitness industry,” explained Glofox CEO Conor O’Loughlin. “Many gyms have made the leap to delivering virtual experiences overnight. “Consumers have learned how to consume fitness content digitally and are beginning to feel comfortable with that. Businesses are adapting fast, and those that adopt new tools will survive now and be able to add new revenue streams coming out of this pandemic.”

Output Sports

Five men standing in a gym.

Pictured (l-r) at the UCD Institute for Sport and Health are: Dr Darragh Whelan and Dr Martin O’Reilly, co-founders, Output Sports; angel investors and Leinster Rugby players, Dan Leavy and Adam Byrne; and Julian Eberle, co-founder, Output Sports. Image: Damien Eagers

Shortly after raising €1.3m in funding, NovaUCD-based Output Sports has created a new wearable fitness sensor that can test and track athletic performance.

With gyms and training grounds remaining closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, athletes and coaches are increasingly turning to companies such as Output Sports to help them to optimise their remote training programmes.

The company has developed Output // Capture, an end-to-end solution that can test multiple components of athletic performance and track training programmes with a single wearable sensor.

“Currently due to the Covid-19 pandemic the athletic community the world over has had to adapt to the requirements of social-distancing, home-workouts and working from home,” explained Dr Martin O’Reilly, CEO, Output Sports. “We are glad that our Output // Capture technology can help them in this time of unprecedented change.”

Profitero

Red shopping bag on top of a phone.

Dun Laoghaire-based Profitero which counts Adidas and L’Oreal as clients – is eyeing the digital future of brands via digital commerce and has just raised $20m in funding.

The company – which was founded in 2010 by Vol Pigrukh, Dmitry Vyostski and Kanstantsin Chernysh – has brought in ad industry veterans to its management team to grow the business and define the future of brands.

“E-commerce was already on a major growth trajectory, but Covid-19 has sent it into hyperdrive by forcing consumers to adopt online ordering behaviours at a much faster rate,” said Lew Moorman, general partner at Scaleworks, one of the investors in Profitero.

“These major shifts in digital purchase behaviour have created a large opportunity for Profitero as one of the few platforms capable of helping brands optimis their digital businesses across thousands of retailer sites and at global scale

Scurri

Wexford-based Scurri is redefining the future of retail. It has just been named among the top 50 retail tech start-ups operating globally, according to a new report published today by RWRC – home of Retail Week and World Retail Congress.

Scurri, whose technology connects and optimises the e-commerce ordering, shipping, and delivery process, was the only Irish company to have been listed in the industry ranking.

The company, which has also opened offices in London, adds value at multiple stages along the e-commerce journey: from selecting the most effective delivery option for each package, creating accurate labels, tracking the packages, and running analytics to deliver insight to support process improvement.

Founded by Josephine O’Connor, Rory O’Connor and Eugene Crehan, the company has raised €7m in funding to date.

Soapbox Labs

Woman in black dress talking on a stage at a TED talk.

Dr Patricia Scanlon, CEO and founder of Soapbox Labs.

Dr Patricia Scanlon’s Soapbox Labs is powering ahead with its mission to address a global education problem using speech recognition

The Dublin-based tech start-up has raised €5.8m in funding from international venture capital firm Astia Angels and Dublin-based Elkstone Capital.

Identified in 2018 by Forbes magazine as one of the world’s “top 50 women in tech,” Dr Scanlon is one of a number of Irish women shaping the future of technology and is addressing a global education problem using speech recognition.

Dr Scanlon, a former researcher at Bell Labs, started Soapbox in 2013 and the company’s technology uses AI to help children between the ages of three and 12 develop their literacy skills.

Stripe

Two young men using electronic devices.

John and Patrick Collison at their San Francisco headquarters.

Stripe, the online payments company which was founded by two Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, is now worth $36bn after raising $600m in a Series G round.

Stripe was founded in San Francisco 2009 when CEO Patrick Collison was just 22 and his brother John was 19. Prior that the brothers who hail from Nenagh but as teenagers living in Limerick established a start-up in 2007 called Shuppa that later became known as Auctomatic. They sold Auctomatic for $5m when they were just 19 and 17 respectively.

Stripe intends to invest the latest funding in stepping up product development, global expansion and strategic initiatives. In September ThinkBusiness reported how the company had surpassed its 2,000th employee milestone. The company is spearheading its global expansion from its European headquarters in Dublin.

Stripe, which has more than $2bn on its balance sheet and is speculated to be plotting an IPO, provides an on-ramp to the digital economy for businesses around the world. The rate of new businesses going live on Stripe has accelerated since the start of the year, it revealed.

“People who never dreamt of using the internet to see the doctor or buy groceries are now doing so out of necessity,” said John Collison, president and co-founder of Stripe.

“And businesses that deferred moving online or had no reason to operate online have made the leap practically overnight. We believe now is not the time to pull back, but to invest even more heavily in Stripe’s platform.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 29 April, 2020

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