This Kilkenny start-up gets rid of the paper mountains in skills-based training, writes Trish Dromey
Kilkenny startup Veri has set out to remove the paperwork mountains and much of the hardship of regulatory compliance for companies delivering skills-based training.
In late 2016 it launched a software solution which digitises quality assurance and training records companies providing vocational training across a variety of sectors including healthcare, construction, emergency, and voluntary service.
According to company founder and chief executive Ann Marie McSorley, this is a safer, cheaper, and better way of tracking and tracing training outcomes than the traditional one which involves companies creating rooms full of paper records or spreadsheets.
Winner of the Google Adopt-a-Start-up competition in 2017, Veri now has 35 clients including the Irish Red Cross, the Irish Wheelchair Association, and seven of the 25 private contracted training providers that service the educational training boards nationwide.
“Recent customers include Chevron Training which provides childcare and healthcare, as well as Chris Mee in Cork, one of Ireland’s largest provider of heath and safety training for construction,” said Ms McSorley.
Immediate plans for the company, which now employs six people, involve taking on an additional staff member on March 19; launching a module, by the summer, for the construction industry; and targeting new business in both Northern Ireland and Scotland.
It began, as is often the case, with the identification of a gap in the market. Ms McSorley, who had worked for 20 years in the training business and run her training company for eight, needed something to eliminate the paper mountains being generated by regulatory compliance.
To demonstrate regulatory compliance for programmes involving skills-based training, she was unable to find any option other than using vast quantities of forms.
While researching the area, she also discovered the training data available from these paper forms wasn’t being analysed. “Data about key performance indicators such as attendance and dropout rates, as well as milestones and outcomes, is a valuable resource to evidence return of investment in training, but was being wasted,” she said.
In 2015 she developed a beta version, intended for use by her own company. When two other companies were willing to purchase it from her, she decided that this was the basis for a new business.
“I set up the company in 2016 and signed up with New Frontiers programme at Carlow IT. A new product was created from scratch by developer Shane Barron,” said Ms McSorley, adding that Barrow Training in Carlow became both her first customer and a design partner which helped Veri complete the software development.
Securing competitive software funding of €50,000 from Enterprise Ireland at the start of 2017 helped her recruit staff and get established at Kilkenny Research & Innovation Centre.
At this point Mr Barron joined the company as chief technical officer.
Later in 2017, Veri embarked on a funding round and secured €225,000, half from a private investor and half from Enterprise Ireland, which identified it as a High Potential Startup.
Ms McSorley is planning to raise €225,000 in July when the company needs a further injection of funds. The high points of 2017 included raising the competitive start funding at a critical juncture and winning the Google Adopt-a-Startup and €100,000 in Google Cloud Credit.
“This was fantastic — not just for the money but also for the PR — three members of Google staff worked with us for 12 weeks and we learned a lot in a short space of time,’’ she said.
Veri now offers a cloud-based dashboard and app, which analyses and visualises the key performance indicator data of training programmes.
The company is currently working, with Enterprise Ireland, on completing a solution for the construction industry due for launch in three months.
“Our goal is to have 60 customers by the end of the year, including five or six outside the Republic,’’ said Ms McSorely, adding that Veri is following up new leads in the Northern.
In the longer term, it aims to have a staff of 18 and a turnover of €1m by 2020, a target which Ms McSorely says Veri is well on track to achieve.