Cork firm Spearline makes right call

Spearline is growing after identifying a niche in technology back-up services, writes Trish Dromey

With the acquisition of a larger premises in Skibbereen, West Cork-based technology company Spearline has announced plans to treble its turnover and double its staff to 100 over the next three years.

During an eventful few weeks, the company has just completed the purchase of the former St Fachtna’s De La Salle boys secondary school building, earned a ranking in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list for the fourth year running, and qualified as a finalist in the Technology Ireland Awards.

In existence since 2003, Spearline provides services in 66 countries for a range of global multinationals including Google, HP, and Bandwidth. It has, according to chief executive and co-founder Kevin Buckley, come a huge distance since it stumbled upon a niche market seven years ago, developing software to test freephone or toll-free numbers.

Mr Buckley and fellow computer science graduate Matthew Lawlor set the company up to distribute software and later switched to installing phone systems. In 2010 an inquiry from PGi, a global multinational which has its European headquarters in Clonakilty, about toll-free number testing put Spearline on a new path.

Mr Buckley says the inquiry was particularly fortuitous because the demand for phone systems was disappearing. PGi’s difficulty was that it needed to find out if the toll-free numbers in its facilities around the world were live and operational, but had no way of doing this from outside of the countries involved.

“When there were complaints, people had to ask relatives in those countries to make calls to check if the lines were working. They asked us if we could come up with a solution.”

Spearline’s founders developed software which was used in country lines and hosted servers and in 2010 signed an exclusive contract to provide toll-free call number-testing services to PGi for three years.

“We started with ten countries and by 2013 we were providing it in 30 countries,” says Mr Buckley.

When exclusivity came to an end in 2014, Spearline, still a small company with a staff of five, began targeting global multinationals. The first to offer this type of solution, it has, over the last four years, expanded at a rapid pace.

“Since 2014 turnover has been growing by an average of 75% a year — by 2015 the company had a staff of 18 and this has now increased to nearly 50,” says Mr Buckley.

Investment in R&D has been ongoing, and Spearline now offers a solution which also allows customers to test the audio quality of the line.

“We provide the world’s only automated monitoring platform which allows enterprise to proactively benchmark, monitor, and troubleshoot their global telecoms footprint,” says Mr Buckley.

Spearline added ‘mobile testing’ this year, a solution which enables customers to test, benchmark, and monitor calls using mobiles for the first time and has also introduced an interactive voice response (IVR) testing solution incorporating speech recognition.

It is on foot of these technological advances that Spearline has been shortlisted in the Technology Ireland Awards in the Technology Innovation of the Year category. And as a result of its high growth rate, the company has ranked number 16 in the Deloitte Fast 50, a list of the fastest growing 50 technology companies in Ireland, released this month.

Another significant event for Spearline this year has been the opening of an office in India, which is being used for software development and also to develop sales in Asia.

Up until now the vast majority of Spearline’s customers have been US-owned multinationals but since the opening of its Indian office, the Cork firm has begun targeting Asian-owned multinationals. For the future, Mr Buckley says the aim is to maintain Spearline’s place as the leading provider of global audio quality monitoring for the telecommunications industry.

The former De La Salle building is expected to be ready for occupation by the end of 2018 , providing the space for the company to grow global sales. Mr Buckley says Spearline also plans to move into a new area. “We are focusing on R&D and are working on something quite exciting which will be a whole new direction for us.”


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