New Innovator: CloudSure

When Dave Walsh set up Challenge Insurance Brokers in 2006, his goal was to develop it into a substantial operation. This growth now looks set to come from a different source than he originally intended.

What started out as an exercise to improve the efficiency and customer-relationship management at his own brokerage has subsequently developed into a fully fledged CRM system tailor-made for the insurance industry.

CloudSure is about to be launched on the Irish market where Walsh hopes it will find buyers among the nation’s 3,500-strong broker community. However, the real payoff for the long hours and investment involved will be in export sales.

Walsh has already had interest in CloudSure from the UK. He says its beauty lies in its transferability as the insurance industry is relatively standardised. Walsh received assistance from Enterprise Ireland (EI) to develop CloudSure under its Innovation Vouchers initiative and he is hopeful that the company will shortly get EI's backing as a high potential start-up.


“The insurance industry is under pressure to cope with increasing volumes of regulation and paperwork and decreased income,” Walsh says.

“Like many brokers, we were using a lot of manual systems and the ‘off-the- shelf’ CMS products I looked at were outdated and poor value. Eventually I decided we needed a bespoke system.

"I established a great working relationship with the guys in engineering and IC4 [Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce] at Dublin City University and what has emerged is a comprehensive management system that has transformed our business."

Walsh estimates it has taken two years of hard graft and about €50,000 to develop the system in-house. Had he sub-contracted its development, he says the cost would have been closer to €200,000.

“The system incorporates all the latest cloud-development technologies and between the IT expertise at DCU and my insurance experience it has loads of functionality,” he says.

“I have spoken to a lot of cloud-based business entrepreneurs about setting up and I am finalising the revenue model which will most likely be pay per user per month.

"We are using Amazon web services, which makes the operation very scalable, and we are already looking at how we can add value. At the moment, it has a unique customer portal function and we are looking at adding an insurance company portal which, in both cases, gives users access to information they require 24/7."

Walsh is not a techie but he feels that becoming savvy about today’s business tools from search engine optimisation to cloud computing was essential. “I put a lot of time into getting up to speed but the payoff is that I have been able to create a whole new business.”