We spoke to Dr. Paul Cummins Managing Director of SeaChange Ltd (pictured below) about life at an organisational development and risk management consultancy from start up stage through the growth stages and now offering their services to organisations across Europe.
Tell us a little about the company
SeaChange delivers Organisational Development (OD) and Risk Management consultancy services with a suite of supporting programmes, products and software in the areas of Health & Safety, Quality, Standard Operating Procedures, Leadership Development and Selection & Assessment. Our target clients span the Corporate Sector - large multinationals, public bodies; the Commercial Sector - SMEs, Retail units, Nursing Homes, Hotels, Sport & Leisure facilities; and the Insurance Sector – insurance companies & insurance brokers. We are based in Naas, County Kildare and employ 12 people. After 22 years of experience in manufacturing management, SeaChange CEO Ger Cummins set up the company in 2005 to effect real, sustainable culture change and bringing growth and long-term sustainability to organisations through their people.
In the past 4 years across all SeaChange clients, there has been on average the following results:
- a 50% reduction in accidents
- a 42% reduction in the cost & frequency of liability claims
- a 7% reduction in insurance premiums
- a 60% increase in staff morale and engagement
Tell me your experiences of the early stages of starting your business in Kildare?
From 2005 to 2009 SeaChange remained a small consultancy business serving key strategic corporate multinationals. During this time we internally re-invested capital to develop our core Risk Management proprietary software (JSA™ Safe-T Software) for use within the corporate sector. In 2010 we began developing new products, programmes and market-entry strategies. To support our entry and expansion into the Irish retail market (with our innovative Risk Management System), we applied for and received funding from Kildare County Enterprise Board. This support began in 2011 and continued for 2 years, enabling us to increase our workforce from 3 to 10, and to move our business from our home to new commercial premises in Naas.
What were the benefits to you starting your business in Kildare?
Kildare CEB continued to fund us during the key growth years for our Company, giving us the security and confidence to invest in and develop our products and services at a time when financial institutions were not open to supporting SMEs. We more than tripled our workforce, and in 2013 we graduated to become an Enterprise Ireland client. EI continues to support us as a high potential developed company, and we now export our products and services across Europe and have moved to another larger office space facilitate our expanding workforce.
What challenges did you encounter in starting up your business?
Challenges such as a) streamlining the product development process so that new products can get to key markets quickly; b) anticipating our different market segment demands and staying ahead of the curve by being innovative; c) developing a sustainable sales & marketing strategy and implementing this successfully.
What 3 points of advice would you give to early stage entrepreneurs on how they can make their venture a success?
- At the start-up phase it is important to do your market research and establish a clear and concise business plan that identifies both a gap in a specific market, and a scalable solution to address that gap.
- Business planning is often difficult for SMEs given the dynamic nature of client needs. We plan for and incorporate R&D and innovation in the organisation, and structure our daily, weekly and monthly business activities to accommodate this so that we are constantly responding to markets.
- Every business is only as good as the people in that business. We are lucky to have in-house expertise regarding selecting the ‘right fit’, so we have an excellent and close team within a culture that supports growth and development. Finding people that really fit with your company and your overall strategy is key.
Dr Paul Cummins Managing Director
Monread Commercial & Leisure Centre,