The sky is the limit for cloud telephony company Blueface
EY Entrepreneur of the Year award finalist: Alan Foy of Blueface
Alan Foy of Blueface: “There seems to be an increased appetite for cloud communications in enterprises which is driving new demand.”
Alan Foy is responsible for the strategic direction and overall management of Blueface, a leading global unified communications as a service (UCaaS) provider which operates a proprietary platform and services businesses, enterprises and carriers.
He works closely with the management team on a day-to-day basis to execute Blueface’s growth strategy and lead its expansion into new markets including an east coast launch this year.
Blueface is headquartered in Dublin with operations in the US, UK, Italy, France, Spain and Germany. It employs about 60 people with plans to hire an additional 60 people over the next few years.
Prior to joining Blueface, Mr Foy worked as an executive with one of Ireland’s leading investment firms, NCB Group (now Investec). He also spent time at Coyle Hamilton (now Willis) working in the area of business transformation and change, and with AOL Finance.
What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start up in business?
From a very early age I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I love the idea of building a great Irish success story internationally and have always set out to create or build such a company with a group of ambitious people. I’m lucky to have found that team in Blueface.
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
Blueface has invested heavily in R&D to develop a leading cloud communications platform and develop into an enterprise solutions provider. We offer unified communications-as-a-service on a monthly subscription to businesses while also offering white label solutions of our platform to international carriers and telcos. As Blueface is committed to innovation, we offer a best in class user experience and array of service offerings to achieve a total customer value proposition which differentiates significantly.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
The early days when I joined Blueface were difficult from a cash perspective and we had some major challenges – keeping the bank and the key creditors happy was my first leadership test.
What moment/deal would you cite as the “game changer” or turning point for the company?
Securing a €10 million investment from BDO Development Capital for Blueface’s international expansion is a major game changer for the company.
What were the best and the worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?
The best piece of advice I received was to take lots of advice from successful business people but ultimately make your own decisions. The worst piece of advice I received was to become a lawyer.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
We have launched in six countries in the last few months and expect to expand internationally in the course of the coming year.
Have you started to feel the effects of the economic upturn within your sector/industry?
There seems to be an increased appetite for cloud communications in enterprises which is driving new demand. This is having a positive effect on our business.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
Making people redundant.
What was your biggest business mistake?
Hiring certain people who were too “big company” for an entrepreneurial start-up.
What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Picking the wrong business partner.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to Government to stimulate the economy?
Provide for more tax incentives for investors and entrepreneurs to hire employees and deploy capital in “real” Irish technology companies.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Surround yourself with the most amazing team.