NEW INNOVATORS:IN 2002, brothers Aidan and Ollie McDonnell set up Synergy Stocktaking to launch a new IT-based stocktaking product aimed at the hospitality industry. At the time stocktaking was still a laborious manual task and the McDonnells’ system offered bars, clubs and hotels a much faster and more efficient method of stock control.
Initially, cost prevented the brothers from designing their own software for what was a small start-up company. Instead they licensed an existing piece of software on which they based their system. Since then, the company has grown to a point where it has been able to fund the design of a bespoke stocktaking software programme, to be launched in January.
The product, called One Touch, has been over a year in development and has cost approximately € 100,000 to bring to market. The company has received financial support for its development from the Dublin City Enterprise Board.
“One of the key highlights of the new product is its ability reduce stocktaking times by between 15-20 per cent,” says Aidan McDonnell.
“We have put a huge amount of effort into building sophisticated software that can give owners very precise information about what’s happening across the different facilities within their establishments – from the main bar to their nightclub. But, while the functionality is there, it is built into the programming. Customers don’t have to grapple with its complexity. What they get is information that is easy to follow and to use.”
While the development of its own software is a major milestone for the company, McDonnell says its real significance is the growth potential it represents. The company intends to use One Touch to spearhead its entry into the export market, starting with Northern Ireland and the UK.
“As a licensee we had no control over the software or over the rate of development or upgrades and things were not happening fast enough for us,” he says.
“With our experience of the market over 10 years, we felt we had built up the knowledge and insight required to design a really good product that will travel.”
Synergy Stocktaking, which employs nine people, has also been innovative in its business model. Having gained a foothold in the market with its original IT product over a five-year period, the brothers decided to build the business through franchising. They began developing their franchising arm in 2007 and now have 11 Irish franchisees on board.
“It is a challenging model, but we have been able to attract high calibre people to the franchise and they have a much greater commitment to the business than many employees typically have,” McDonnell says.