South Africa-founded Lucky Beard reveals a €1.1m investment in its Irish operations as it makes 10 new hires.

Global design and digital advisory firm Lucky Beard is investing €1.1m in expanding its Irish operation as it gears up to help accelerate the digitisation of Irish businesses.

Founded in South Africa in 2015, Lucky Beard currently employs 65 people across strategy, brand, product and experience design, with 18 already deployed in its European headquarters in Dublin.

“The pandemic has put digitisation at the forefront … Those who have acted early and were willing to experiment are seeing the greatest success”

The company will hire another 10 people this year across user experience and digital product design.

New adventures in business

As the pandemic continues to accelerate digital adoption across many industries, the company believes there is a huge opportunity for many Irish SMEs to evolve in order to realise their full potential in an increasingly digital economy.

According to a McKinsey & Company study, digital offerings in response to Covid-19 have leapfrogged seven years of progress in a matter of months with the main driving force being the shift of consumers to online channels.

“The pandemic has put digitisation at the forefront, most notably in sectors like retail, healthcare, fintech, edtech and telcoms. Those who have acted early and were willing to experiment are seeing the greatest success,” said Adam Oberem, co-founder and CEO of Lucky Beard, whose Irish clients include RSA Ireland brand 123.ie, Institute of Banking (IOB), Aryza, McCauley’s Pharmacy and Irish Life.

“There is a massive opportunity for organisations in Ireland to capitalise on this next normal and dramatically improve their performance and growth with clever digital innovation.”

“By bolstering Lucky Beard’s team of skilled designers, strategists and engineers, we aim to help businesses take advantage of our global experience in delivering disruptive and agile digital transformation solutions.”

Digitalising Dublin

Lucky Beard opened its European headquarters in Dublin in 2017 after two of its South African founders, Adam Oberem and James Nelson, relocated to Ireland under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) for innovative entrepreneurs wishing to establish their business and reside in Ireland full-time.

Both were in their 20s when they set up South Africa’s first full-service digital agency in 1999, which they grew to a 500-person organisation before selling to WPP in 2009.

Their experience running a large agency helped shaped a different ethos with Lucky Beard, where they are focused on maintaining it as a boutique agency whose owners are involved in the strategy and delivery of client work.

“Lucky Beard is all about co-creation with our partners. We are small by design and intend to remain that way. By blending both the advisory and product design arms of the business, we are able to help companies realise meaningful and impactful change quickly,” said its Irish Managing Director, Elaine Devereux.

In addition to its Dublin operations, Lucky Beard has offices in London, Johannesburg and Pretoria where it partners with Standard Bank, NetCare and Vodacom amongst others. 

In the UK it works with Vitality and Investec amongst others, where it acts as its global digital transformation and brand partner.

It has a proven track record of pioneering and commercialising a number of digital initiatives such as South Africa’s first robo-adviser for investments, Bizank, plus OUTbonus, a cash bonus that rewards customers for being claims-free – developed for insurance providers OUTsurance.

Main image at top (from left): James Nelson, chief creative and co-founder; Elaine Devereux, managing director and Adam Oberem, CEO and co-founder of Lucky Beard. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 4 May 2021