Ringing in new era for corporate communications

 

Gordon O'Neill, managing director, Goldfish.ie

What distinguishes your business from competitors?

We focus only on business customers. We have no residential customers. Our feature set of cloud-based telephony services is unparalleled. Competitors do have the same basic features as us but no one offers the same full suite of features that we do.

We help businesses reduce their operating costs, present a more professional image and be more flexible. Our services make communication easier for businesses.

For example, with our systems, you can transfer a call to anywhere in the world. I am based in Ireland, but my business partner is in the UK and we regularly transfer calls to each other. Some of our customers have their headquarters in Ireland but offices in America. When someone calls asking for someone, they can be easily transferred to the office in America.

We also send a WAV file of every voicemail received to a person’s email. Thus if you ever accidentally delete a voicemail you still have access to it.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have had to face?

Explaining to people the concept behind our business. The Irish market for this technology is quite immature. I had to explain to people that our technology, which provides telephone services over the internet, was the way forward.

To use our technologies, companies had to have highspeed broadband or at the very least reliable performing broadband but often they didn’t, which was a challenge.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?

Assuming that people understood what I was talking about. I used to address huge numbers of people at chamber of commerce events and clients too, but they didn’t get what I was talking about as it was too technical. I learned very quickly and adapted my pitch to be more customer-friendly with less technical language.

What was the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

If you really believe in doing something in business, you should do it, even if people think you’re crazy. Otherwise you’ll regret it in 10 years’ time. When I first started off this business, at the height of the downturn, everyone said I was crazy but I have no regrets.

Your major success to date?

The transition from having small businesses as clients to large international firms. We started off providing services to small firms and now we have huge multinational companies as clients. For example, our technology is being used by Sisk on some of its biggest and most high profile construction projects, namely the new €153 million brewery being built by Diageo at St James’s Gate, and Europe’s first Shangri-La hotel, which Sisk is building at the top of the Shard skyscraper in London (the European Union’s tallest building).

Who do you most admire in business and why?

In an Irish context, I admire the management team of Eishtec. They ignored everyone who told them that their business model could not work after Talk Talk pulled out. Their recent announcement of 250 jobs proves they were right to pursue the path they believed would work.

What piece of advice would you give to the Government to stimulate the economy?

The Government needs to continue the broadband roll-out. It’s a big issue for a lot of companies and it’s a big issue for us as we want to sell to these companies and our business is reliant on broadband. I think the Government needs a cohesive broadband strategy.

Do you think the banks are open for business at the moment?

I listen to a lot of negative publicity on that subject. I didn’t need to get finance to start the business, luckily. I left a permanent job as the global director of IT operations for a large firm and got a good redundancy package. My peers find it hard though. I’d hear the subject of credit and banks come up a lot among them.

How do you see the short-term future for your business?

I see it as being hectic and busy. We are growing very quickly. We have several thousand clients at present but we want to double our customer base in the next year. We’d also like to target an increased number of larger firms.

In conversation with Pamela Newenham

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