Simon Smith - Hubbcat

Simon Smith - Hubbcat

Name(s) of Business Owners:

Alan Bates

Company:

Triangle Point Ltd, TA Hubbcat

Number of Employees:

7

Famous for:

Providing next generation communications platforms worldwide

What Supports Were Provided by The Local Enterprise Office?

Two rounds of grant funding for offices, website development, headcount and marketing services

Our Annual Turnover is (optional):

€0.5m

Our Location:

Kilcoole, Co.Wicklow

Website:

www.hubbcat.com

Our Social Media Platforms:

LinkedIn Hubbcat

Hubbcat Logo

Hubbcat provides companies and organisations with their own private secure communications network. Their technology allowsusers to connect instantly anywhere in the world at a touch of a button. Their software allows users to raise alarms and their location to be identified instantly in real time. This means users can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they are being monitored and protected. Ultimately they enable better communication and collaboration across teams, leading to better outcomes for end customers.

Interview

1. What year did you start your business and what can you tell us about those early days and how it all started?

We started the business in late 2019. The founders and early employees to the business all worked together extensively in the Caribbean for many years prior to coming home to Ireland and founding the business. We identified a clear gap in the market for next generation Push-to-talk (PTT) over IP solutions. Thousands of businesses still rely on outdated analogue communications. With the increasing demand for digital transformation within organisations ways of working we felt the time was right to introduce this service to our markets.

2. What were the high points and low points in those early days, when you were a start-up?

Like many businesses our early plans were thwarted by the outbreak of the Pandemic, however one of our key strengths and achievements has been to pivot the business to take advantage of the pandemic, providing new products and services specifically in response to COVID to our customers. This has allowed us to actually grow the business through the most difficult of times. Like most businesses we had plans to launch in new markets and territories, these have been put on hold as in most cases with COVID travel restrictions. Ultimately you need boots on the ground, meeting prospective channel partners and customers to make it a success. We can’t wait to get back out on the road once conditions permit.

 3. What was your big ‘break-through’ moment?

Initially like all start-ups our breakthrough was our first sale. This took the business from an idea to reality. We won the contract to provide care and monitoring solutions to the Government of Bahamas throughout the Covid Pandemic. We actually won this contract in our old office which was based over a mechanic's shop, we had to request that they pause work while we made our pitch to the Bahamas Government.  It will be one of the stories we will laugh about in years to come but it does highlight some of our core values – agility and flexibility to go anywhere and do the right thing to help our customers

4. Your Local Enterprise Office (LEO) has supported your business. Tell us about these supports and what impact they have had?

They have had a massive impact on our business, it has allowed us to scale rapidly to meet the changing demands of our customers in terms of headcount, set-us up in our home in Kilcoole Enterprise park and engage the expertise of various consultants to guide our marketing and digital strategy. This was all supported by the LEO through the Priming Grant, the Trading Online Voucher, and mentoring.

5. How has your company been preparing for Brexit? Did you receive any assistance from LEO Wicklow?

We have not been adversely affected to date by Brexit our business is selling internationally to other markets in the EU and Caribbean. We use virtual servers for our data this means that from a GDPR and data perspective we are not at risk of any issues associated with physical servers. Our business plan had forecasted an expansion into the UK in late 2021. This may need to be revisited pending the impact of Brexit. We are currently taking advantage of training on offer through the LEO to help us prepare.

6. 2020 has been a very difficult year for SMEs with the COVID-19 Pandemic. How has your company responded?

From a people perspective we took great care to make sure our own staff were equipped with the capability to work remotely and then return to a safe working environment once the office re-opened. Our particular brand of technology is tailor made for remote working and we were able to provide technical solutions to governments both here and in the Caribbean. This allowed us to continue generating revenues and avoiding the necessity to scale back on our aspirations. We developed a full suite of sales and marketing collaterals in terms of videos, training materials, sales pieces which we are able to deliver to prospective customers remotely.

7. Did you receive any assistance from LEO Wicklow in response to COVID-19? If so, how did it benefit your business?

We initially received a priming grant. This was vital in helping us fund our initial employees as we were scoping up the business as well as funding crucial investment in marketing and website material. We also received the Trading Online Voucher as a response to the pandemic. This grant allowed us to develop additional materials for our website.

 8. Are you optimistic about the future?

Very – the team in Hubbcat are excited about the future of the business. We are passionate about the space we are in and truly believe that we can help companies across the spectrum of industry digitally transform their internal communications. 

9.What’s next on the business agenda for your company?

We are actively pursuing an acquisition of another business where we will acquire an existing customer base and access to an additional market opportunity. We have built up relationships with several blue-chip channel partners and the key goal for the next 6 months will be the development of these relationships.

10. In the future, what will be the biggest challenges facing Irish businesses?

The biggest challenge is uncertainty, uncertainty around Brexit, COVID and indeed the governments longevity. We prefer to look at challenges as opportunities. Our opportunity is going to be around remaining agile enough to meet the changing needs of our customers.

11. What’s the best piece of advice you got about running a business?

When you are a start-up cashflow is king and it is important to always be cognisant of this. However, from our perspective we always maintain that relationships make the difference. Try to work with your customers to solve their problems rather than build solutions for you and try to push them to customers.

 

Alan's 'Top Tips' for success

  • What are your ‘Top Tips’ around attracting new customers and keeping existing ones loyal…

-Start with the customer problem and work backwards to the solution.

-Be respectful of your customers' time- if you say you are going to do something or be somewhere make sure you keep your promise.

-Don’t be afraid to put your hands up and admit you can’t do something – far too often businesses overpromise and underdeliver.

-Never bring a product to market until you can fully stand over it.

  • What are your ‘Top Tips’ around keeping on top of costs and cash flow?

- Be realistic – don’t assume that all suppliers can pay within time and that it often takes longer to close opportunities.

- Keep everyone abreast of the position and assumptions around cash flow forecast so rest of the team aware of the importance of cash collections and expenditures.

- Simplify matters – don’t talk in big numbers. If you your average revenue per customer is €100 and your cash burn rate is €5000 per month, say you need 50 new customer etc.

- Be good to your suppliers, everyone is a cog in the wheel and their cashflow issues are as valid as your own.

  • What are your ‘Top Tips’ around getting the best out of your team?

- Celebrate the wins, small or big.

- Always do something. Doing something is always better than doing nothing or being scared to make a decision. It’s ok if things go wrong or mistakes are made; what’s important is how quickly you make corrections and don’t get into blame games. Move on and do something else.

Take a look at what Hubbcat has achieved

THANK YOU