Ireland’s growing reputation as a destination for customer service contact centres has opened-up a gap in the market for local suppliers. Gordon O’ Neill, co-founder of cloud-based telecoms provider Goldfish in County Wicklow, tells us how this industry is providing new opportunities for SMEs.
Set up in 2010, Goldfish is a cloud-based telecoms provider, working with businesses of all sizes - from sole traders to international blue chip corporations, such as Dropbox and IDG Direct. Its state-of-the-art cloud telecoms services are part of a network that handles 66 million calls every year.
It’s new product, Quvu, is a cloud-based contact centre solution. This is a big growth area for the Wicklow-based firm, which develops and supports its own software here in Ireland.
Facts at a glance
Entrepreneur: Gordon O’Neill, CEO,
Employees: 9 full-time
Famous for: Supplying cloud based telecoms services and their new Quvu product
LEO Supports: Training, mentoring and grants.
Tell us about Goldfish?
Gordon O’Neill set up Goldfish in 2010 when he realised there was a gap in the market for a cloud-based telecoms provider, to focus on the business market.
Goldfish gives new companies quick and easy access to telephone numbers and telecoms services. In the past, it could take weeks to get set up, as you had to get a traditional telephone company to come and physically fit telephone lines in your premises.
However, with Goldfish you can have new office numbers set up immediately. All our services are provided over the Internet, so the cost of calls is lower and there’s a host of additional services such as Call Recording and Call Director (IVR), which we provide.
Our services can be expanded as our customers grow; you literally cannot outgrow us. Our larger customers are some of the most high-profile brands in the world e.g. we provide all the phone numbers to DropBox’s HQ in Dublin.
Quvu - pronounced 'queue view' - is one of Goldfish's new brand of telecommunications products that uses cloud technology to provide contact centres (call centres) with a new way of managing their teams. It helps operators of centres manage their teams of agents that handle inbound calls from customers and/or sales’ teams making outbound calls.
Back in 2010, what were the high points and low points as a new start-up?
High point: getting our first customer, which was also a Wicklow company, called HotFoot.ie
Low point: trying to get a merchant account set up with the bank, so that we could take credit card payments. It took an inordinate amount of time and was a very painful process. This takes so long to set up that, for any business intending to take payments online, this should be one of the first things they do.
What was your ‘break-through’ moment in business?
Our big break-through moment was getting our first big international customer IDG Direct. When companies like IDG Direct and Dropbox (who we've also signed), start to take notice, that's when you really realise that you are doing things right.
You started the business at the peak of the recession, so what type of impact did that have?
It was a very positive time for us; we intentionally started the company during the recession in order to meet the demand from companies that were trying to reduce the costs of their telecoms.
Initially our focus was mainly on helping businesses lower their costs. Then, as the economy started to improve, we put more of an emphasis on providing additional services, such as Call Recording and Quvu, while also starting to target bigger companies.
Now that the recession is behind us, our customers have benefitted and so have we. Goldfish has been growing each year and this does not look like slowing down.
Tell us how your Local Enterprise Office has been supporting you along the way?
The Local Enterprise Office Wicklow have been hugely supportive. In particular, Sheelagh Daly has been a big help. Both the financial assistance and guidance provided have been invaluable. The grants helped us recruit new staff and paid for PR and marketing, which helped us boost our profile and differentiate Goldfish from the competition. The interest-free loan provided the company with stability and allowed us to set up our office.
Are you optimistic about the future?
We are very optimistic about the future as technology is on our side. More companies are realising the benefits of cloud telecoms and switching from a traditional telephone system.
What’s next on the business agenda?
Firstly, we are supplying telephone services to bigger and bigger companies. Secondly, we have started to move into the contact centre market, which is a huge sector in Ireland. We recently launched an updated version of Quvu; Quvu 2 has a host of additional features for contact centre managers, such as automatic dialler, live call handling data, real time analytics and statistics, and call recording.
What’s the best piece of advice you got about running a business?
The best piece of advice I got was: if a company treats its staff with respect, then the staff will respect the company. Also, in terms of customer service, people remember not what you say to them, but how you treat them.
Gordon’s ‘Top Tips’ for success
- Top Tips around attracting new customers and keeping existing ones loyal… The main tip would be to look after your existing customers. They are the key to the future success of your business. If you help them be successful, then you will be successful. There is no point chasing new customers, if, in doing so, you neglect your existing customers. In a small country like Ireland word of mouth counts for a lot too. Utilise technology to attract customers and invest in digital; it is possible to get onto page one of Google organically.
- Top Tips around keeping on top of costs and cash flow… Again, I can’t stress this enough, use technology. It doesn't matter whether you are selling a product, or a service, have an online payment system and, where possible, automate all payments. This ensures a constant cash flow. You also save on the costs and stress of having to have an accounts team chasing unpaid invoices.
- Top Tips around getting the best out of your team… We recommend having a light touch in terms of HR policies. Treat staff like adults and with respect. If you do, then they'll act like adults and respect the company. For instance, we don’t have a dress code. Wearing of business attire is discouraged, even though we are a business-to-business company. This is great for morale and reduces staff turnover, which can be very damaging to a business. Only one person has ever left Goldfish and even then they regretted it!
Also, a dog-friendly office is a great way of relieving stress at work and making the office more enjoyable. The office dog is our puppy Tuco, he's a Lurcher/Collie cross. He's now also our company mascot, which is a great addition to our marketing.
Our thanks to Gordon for taking part and if you’d like to find out more about Goldfish or Quvu, please visit: goldfish.ie