TALY rounds up the subscriptions-led future of retail

Founded by sisters Kerri and Alex Sheeran, TALY is going to be a digital force to be reckoned with, bridging the online and offline subscriptions world with a single, easy-to-use platform.

In these digitally distracting times, it is no surprise that people are failing to get the full benefit of the various subscriptions they sign up to.

The online subscriptions model pioneered by players like Birch Box or Million Dollar Shave Club is spilling over into the physical world and in cities around the world, including Irish cities, even venues like coffee shops are offering subscription services such as a coffee a day for a monthly fee.

“There is a major gap in the market for a super-app to dominate the subscriptions industry … it’s our mission to be a first-mover in this space”

Bringing order to all of this is a young Dublin company called TALY, headed by sisters Kerri and Alex Sheeran.

“Currently to browse or purchase subscriptions products you must go in and out of each individual website,” explained Kerri Sheeran. “Hence why we created TALY as this is stunting the growth of the industry and also a very manual way of shopping and not aligned with other industries.

“There is a major gap in the market for a super-app to dominate the subscriptions industry like Deliveroo/UberEats for takeaways. This is why it our mission to be the first mover in this space.”

Sheeran estimates that the addressable market could be worth £1.8bn by 2025 in the UK alone.  

“Almost half (45%) of Londoners are signed up to at least one subscription box, followed by 37% and 36% of shoppers in the West Midlands and Northern Ireland, respectively. “Subscription box shoppers in the North East take top place at 5.2 subscriptions. Londoners come a close second signing up for five subscription boxes per person on average, followed by consumers in the East Midlands at 4.6..

“16% of 25-34-year-olds are signed up to three or more schemes,” Sheeran added.

One platform to manage them all

Sheeran describes TALY as the first “Universal Subscription Platform” in Ireland and the UK.

“Our core product is a subscription platform. TALY provides all subscriptions for in-store and home-delivery subscriptions to be purchased and managed at the one touch point. Consumers either redeem in-store with a QR code from their profile or enjoy in the comfort of their own homes with home-delivery subscriptions.”

The platform is online at www.talysubscriptions.com and an app is in development.

The detail in digital retail

Sisters Kerri and Alex cut their teeth – literally – in retail from an early age, helping out in their parents’ jewellery store from an early age.

“I did my undergrad in Dublin Business School in General Business, I then went on to complete a Master’s in UCD Michael Smurfit in Strategic Management and Planning,” Alex recalls. “I learnt so much upon completing my Master’s and I really feel that it gave me a strategic way of thinking in business scenarios today.

“My last job was in London with the Watches of Switzerland Group where I was a manager of an Omega Watches Boutique. This was certainly challenging opening a new store in between lockdowns but I learnt so much along the way.

“I have worked practically my whole life in a family run business – Paul Sheeran Jewellers. This is where I definitely learnt the values of hard work and entrepreneurship. I started working at probably 12/13 years old and I have always understood the value of money and how hard you have to work to earn it. From my early years I was exposed to business environments and I have always wanted to be the CEO of a multinational company and I hope that with TALY someday I am. I am a natural sales person, I love a business challenges and luckily found something that I love, hence why TALY has become a labour of love for me – combining selling TALY to our partners and facing the challenges involved with a start-up.

“TALY started over two years ago pre-lockdown when we noticed the gap in the market for subscription boxes and how you had to go in and out of each individual website to view the options.

“I was living in the UK when Pret A Manger launched their in-store coffee subscriptions for only £20 per month. It blew up! All of a sudden I started to realise how prominent subscriptions were all around me. From small independent coffee shops to large chains like Pret A Manger. At the same time I noticed all of the HelloFresh, GlossyBox or Harry’s Shave Club subscription boxes and ads. It appeared like they were calling my name! We started really diving into the subscriptions industry and researching every element. Crack on a few months later, we raised some pre-seed money, built our technology and started to trade.”

“I was the same as Kerri, probably 12 years old when I started working in my father’s business,” says Alex. “I loved being in a working environment and been given challenges, whether it was learning how to make a cup of coffee and present it in the highest of standards or clearing out a messy office, there was no job I would turn down. To top it off the feeling of being given a crisp note at the end of the day to be spent on whatever I wanted could not be achieved any other way as I knew I had worked hard to get it and that it was well deserved.

“As I grew up with this mentality and gaining satisfaction from achieving jobs and overcoming barriers to problems, I started applying this to real life situations and thinking to myself how I could do something as great as my dad.

“When I left secondary school the only route I was taking was business, so I started studying business management and it was during that time that myself and my sister, now business partner, spotted a gap in the subscription industry market. We loved the idea of subscriptions but never really knew where to look for them or where to browse a multitude of subscription offerings. The reason because of this was because there simply was nowhere to do this. We were the first to market in this space.”

Bringing order to subscription chaos

“The impression on the start-up ecosystems in our region our relatively low-threat as no one has created a platform for in-store and home-delivery subscriptions in Ireland or the UK,” says Kerri.

“Our biggest competitors are the subscriptions that are available on each individual companies websites. Most of the brands we have partnered with have their own subscriptions for home-delivery available on their own platforms.

“Some sectors of the subscription industry are extremely saturated and competitive so it will definitely be a challenge but I feel that TALY will further drive the subscriptions industry and take it to the next level.”

Having already raised a seed round, TALY is looking at a further fundraising in the next six-to-eight months.

Kerri’s advice for fellow founders is to research their target market thoroughly.

“Never be scared to ask for help and advice. I constantly find myself doing tasks in a start-up that I have absolutely no experience in but I’m starting to figure out that once you’ve learnt what to do you will be able to do it over and over. I am also realising that being a part of a start-up isn’t so bad; yes, the hours are long and tiring but if it’s something you love it will come naturally.

“Our advice for fellow founders would be to research your market and your customer in-depth. Find out what exactly they need and why they will want to use your product versus other competitors.

“But most importantly I would advise any fellow founders to go for it, I’m a strong believer in nothing ventured nothing gained.”

The key to TALY’s success will making the platform easy to use at any time. “We have built our own technology and we continue to grow and improve our subscriptions capability so that no matter what your company does or what type of subscriptions you have that you will be able to partner with TALY to gain access to the mass audiences on TALY.

“TALY is staying agile by being at the forefront and leader in the subscription industry. Our technology is the best for in-store and home-delivery subscriptions and will continue to get better.

“Our team which is led by my sister Alex and I are the target market and consumers’ of most of these products. We know what our consumers’ want. From first-hand experience with a lot of similar websites we have been able to mould TALY to the way we want. We stay agile by being on-top of the subscriptions industry and watching every move in this space.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.