Steady as she goes for Ding as it eyes further success

Mobile top-up service provider has taken its time finding success – and that’s no bad thing

In a sector in which the mantra to “move fast and break things” is still widely followed, it can come as a surprise to learn that “steady as she goes” is also a means to achieving results in the tech industry.

Tech start-ups are increasingly offered huge sums of money early on in order to expand at breakneck speed. Many are told they must do this in order to kill the competition before it has a chance to respond. Obviously such a strategy can work but there are also plenty of casualties who may have had a chance to flourish if they had been given more time.

Ding, the Irish mobile top-up service provider, which has just sold a majority stake in its business to Pollen Street Capital is a company that took its time before accepting external investments. The deal, which according to sources is valued at about $300 million, represents a good deal. Most of the money will stay with the founders and staff of the business.

Founded in 2006 by Mark Roden, who lest we forgot had already achieved success as a co-founder of Esat Telecom, waited 15 years before taking on external investment for the first time. Speaking to The Irish Times, Roden said he had obviously considered doing so earlier but been hesitant to do so.

“I was very cautious about bringing in investment too soon because I felt that because it was a new sector that we were only feeling our way and weren’t certain of the direction the business would take. I felt that to be too prescriptive at that stage of R&D could have crushed innovation, which is why I held off bring in outside capital,” he explained.

Could Ding have achieved success earlier with private equity backing? Quite possibly, but it might also have found itself unable to reach its full potential. Having taken its time and built a strong business with plenty of growth opportunities, Ding is poised to achieve more success with new backers to help it it execute on its plans. Whether Ding goes on to an initial public offering on the stock market, as Roden hopes, or whether it takes another path, the future looks bright.