Through its website, Limerick software start-up Trackplan has landed a diverse range of clients which include the Australian Open Tennis Championship, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and a Nigerian oil refinery, writes Trish Dromey.
Founder and CEO of the four-year-old facilities management software company Mark Cochrane says he has been amazed by the variety and the global spread of the companies and organisations who have become clients after finding the company’s website online.
“One Monday morning I opened my emails to find one from the Australian Open asking for a trial of our software,” he says, adding that other clients who signed up from the internet have included a US retail chain with 500 stores, two large hotels in Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
Based at the Hartnett Acceleration Centre in Limerick, the company started out by developing sales in the UK and Ireland.
Employing a team of four, it now has 30 clients and plans to expand in 2019 by developing a network of reseller partners.
Mr Cochrane is a software developer from the UK who came to Limerick seven years ago after a chance meeting in Oxford with the founder of Limerick start-up Accuvio.
In 2014, he overheard a client enquiring about facilities management software, which set him thinking about setting up his own company.
“I had worked as head of IT in a large facilities company and had experience in developing software and in sales and marketing and knew this was something I could do.”
Registering his new company in mid-2015, he signed up for the LEAP programme at Limerick Institute of Technology and also secured a priming grant from the Local Enterprise Office.
“I developed a basic version and got my first client in by the end of the year - it was Moor Park Golf Club in the UK, my dad was captain there which helped.”
In 2016 Aura Leisure Group, which has 13 leisure centres, became his first Irish client and he also signed up the Limerick Institute of Technology which now uses Trackplan software on its five campuses.
Working on his own, Mr Cochrane attended facilities management events and used his own contacts to develop early clients. In 2017 he participated in Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme and received €15,000 in funding.
Using this and a bank loan to get the company off the ground, he decided not to fundraise.
“I wanted to develop at a sustainable pace without the pressure of external investors.”
Competing in a hugely competitive global market, he says he has focused on developing facilities management software which is both affordable and user friendly.
“The market for facilities software management is vast – it can be used by offices, hotels, manufacturing facilities as well as sports facilities, care homes and schools.”
During 2017, the company invested in a new website which, he says, has helped sales enormously.
“Out of the blue I got an email from a property developer in London, who found the company on the internet. He sent an email looking for a trial and the company, which has four or five large developments a year, now uses our software to manage snags and defects.”
After that, the company’s client base in the UK became more diverse and now includes Awen Wales, a cultural trust looking after community buildings in Bridgend as well Individual Restaurants, a group with 50 restaurants.
“We now have resellers in the US, Australia and Nigeria and are planning to develop a network,” says Mr Cochrane adding that plans for the year include taking on a sales and marketing person and launching its software in multiple languages.