Inside Track: Sorcha O’Grady, co-founder of TruckScience

The company’s apps help hauliers make more informed decisions when buying trucks

Jens Hellberg and Sorcha O’Grady:  “There is huge freedom in being able to try new things, and great satisfaction when you can see you are making progress”

Jens Hellberg and Sorcha O’Grady: “There is huge freedom in being able to try new things, and great satisfaction when you can see you are making progress”

 

Eight years ago software developer Sorcha O’Grady and transport consultant Jens Hellberg pooled their skills to establish Westport-based TruckScience which helps businesses make more informed decisions when investing in transport.

What is special about your business?

We develop apps for the haulage sector that simplify complex decisions around the building, selling and use of trucks. Choosing the right truck for the job, and also the one that will have the most positive impact on the bottom line, is very important. Our sales tool allows a truck salesperson to walk their potential customer through a three-step process of designing a legal and efficient vehicle, simulating performance over the customer’s actual routes and, most importantly, calculating the total running costs of the vehicle.

What sets your business apart in your sector?

Our sales tool changes the game for truck salespeople. Up to now they relied on engineers at head office to design a suitable truck for their customer and on generic miles per gallon figures when quoting fuel consumption. With TruckScience they can work directly with customers to design the most suitable truck while providing a service that is closer to a consultant than a salesman. Our apps are built on cutting edge technology and take full advantage of the cloud. They are also applicable to markets worldwide and simple to use.

You’re in business since 2011. What has been your biggest challenge?

Getting to a worldwide audience and telling our story in a meaningful way.

What has been your biggest success?

Reaching the point where customers around the world can find us, understand what we have to offer, and buy while we sleep. We have built employment at the company to 10 people, and have active users in 25 countries and on all continents bar Antarctica.

What advice would you give someone starting a business?

Think about your proposition from the point of view of the problems your customer needs to solve and the jobs they are trying to do. Avoid thinking about what you can offer. Instead focus on what they need. These may sound like the same thing but there’s a huge difference.

Do you have business hero or heroine?

Not just one. I use the Audible app to read at least one business book per month, so I get my inspiration from many heroes and heroines. If I had to pick one at the moment it would be [behavioural economist] Dan Ariely. His flagship book is Predictably Irrational and his thinking around what makes people behave in certain ways has influenced our marketing. Behavioural psychology and truck sales might seem miles apart, but when it comes to buying decisions we’re all human.

Is government support for your business good or bad?

Good. We have received support from the Leader programme, Mayo Leo and Enterprise Ireland, both financial and educational.

What could the government do to help an SME like yours?

The biggest thing we need right now is improved rural broadband infrastructure. Since we support customers all over the world, we need access to high-speed internet both at work and in our home offices.

In your experience are the banks back lending to SMEs?

We have never borrowed. We self-funded our start-up, and have grown the business through sales revenue and some help from State agencies. We run a very lean operation, and our philosophy is “whoever is closest to the brush sweeps the floor”.

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

In the past we have not been targeted or focussed enough and tried to do too much. However, we’re getting better at managing this. We encourage a culture in the company where it’s okay to try something and for it to fail, and we are constantly testing new ideas and learning from them.

What is the most frustrating part of running a small business?

Juggling so many roles and a to-do list that seems only to grow and never to shrink.

What makes it all worthwhile?

There is huge freedom in being able to try new things, and great satisfaction when you can see you are making progress. There is also wonderful camaraderie among entrepreneurs, and the ecosystem in a small country like ours means there are regular opportunities to meet and stay in touch.

What’s your business worth and would you sell it?

Our business is probably worth a lot more to us than it is to anyone else at this stage, so no plans to sell. We’ve still got lots of pieces of the puzzle to figure out, and while it’s still fun we’ll keep playing the game!