Health and safety first as software firm identifies niche market
START-UP NATION: Effective:Effective provides software to help firms manage their health and safety requirements, cutting their administrative costs in the process
AT THE HEIGHT of the property boom, Darragh Geoghegan was involved in a construction company. These days, he is managing director of Effective, a dynamic young software firm that is already making its mark on the health and safety industry.
The company provides software to help firms manage their health and safety requirements, cutting their administrative costs in the process. It has taken on the current trend for cloud-based services, offering everything from risk management and display screen equipment (DSE) assessments to audits and e-learning.
The three founders had already worked together before setting up Effective. The Geoghegan brothers had been involved in the construction industry for some time, but had moved the business on just before the economic downturn took hold, establishing a consultancy firm along with business partner Billy O’Brien.
“We were looking for a way to manage the requirements we had for health and safety. There was nothing that we could see was either affordable or that would do what was needed for small and medium-sized business,” says Geoghegan. “That was how we got set up – with the intention of providing it as an SME solution.”
The consultancy side of the business gradually tapered off, and Effective now concentrates on providing software to SMEs.
The software system is primarily a health and safety management tool, but it also includes auditing, with inspections checklists, risk management and incidents and accidents, generating required information for reports to the health and safety authorities.
The end result is that the system is more streamlined for clients, leading to lower costs.
The young start-up has thrived. Last year, it was named as one of Enterprise Ireland’s high potential start-ups, putting it in the State agency’s showcase of up-and-coming new firms alongside 2 Paper Dolls and Boxpay.
“The big thing about health and safety is the administrative burden,” says Geoghegan. “In smaller companies it’s half someone’s job. In bigger companies it’s one to five people.”
Effective has already signed up a number of well-known clients, including Merck Sharpe & Dohme and Boston Scientific.
“It gives them what they need to track things automatically, reduce paperwork, compile documents,” says Geoghegan.
The firm has not forgotten its original intention; although its product has been taken up by bigger companies, it still counts many small and medium-sized businesses, ranging from 10 people upwards, among its client list.
Aside from the Enterprise Ireland investment, Effective has also attracted outside funding, which is being used to expand the firm’s presence overseas.
Already it has won a number of clients in the UK, including British Gas and PepsiCo, and it plans to expand that side of the business in coming months.
Geoghegan says it makes sense to move further afield. With the economic downturn, many companies in Ireland are cautious about investing in new technology systems. However, Geoghegan says UK companies are a little more receptive.
“That’s where we’re seeing the biggest requirement for the company, and the biggest growth,” he says.
Effective has already built up a network of retailers in the UK and has entered into a key partnership with a British company.
The firm also provides the software as a white-label solution for big clients, such as insurance companies, which can be rebranded and sold on to their own customers.
Aside from its UK expansion plans, the company is also in the process of launching a second product, an online learning management system that manages training content for companies and creates training courses.
Effective also plans to look at new areas in the coming months, including energy and environment.