Taking on the world one bank at a time

This firm’s ambition is to be the leading provider of foreign exchange front office technology solutions globally and to have 15 of the world’s top 50 banks on their books — not bad for a four-year-old company, reports Trish Dromey

Aiming to make a major splash in the multi trillion dollar global foreign exchange trading market, Dublin company Barracuda FX is going after 15 of the world’s top 50 banks.

The four-year-old trading and risk management software solutions company has already taken on a number of the world’s leading banks as customers and is making ambitious plans for expansion.

“Our target is to have 15 of the world’s top 50 banks by the end of next year. We are also launching a cloud-based solution for smaller banks — our ambition is to be the leading provider of foreign exchange front office technology solutions globally,” says Barracuda chief executive and co-founder Kieran Fitzpatrick.

Shortlisted for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the emerging category, Barracuda is now in the process of moving into a larger premises in the IFSC, where it employs a staff of 27 people.

The company sells to some large banks in the US, Australia and Britain and its software is now used in 45 countries worldwide. Mr Fitzpatrick says Barracuda has been growing at 100% a year and now has a multi- million euro turnover.

He attributes the company’s success to the innovation of the its first product, which automates foreign exchange order management. “Our foreign exchange order management system is truly disruptive, giving banks complete control and confidence to significantly transform their foreign exchange business by increasing revenues, reducing costs and removing operational risk.”

He says the strength of the solution is indicated by the fact that it has been voted best order management product in the foreign exchange market for the last three years by ‘Profit and Loss’, a specialist foreign exchange magazine.

Mr Fitzpatrick and the company’s co-founder and chief operations officer, Maurice Curran, were both working for foreign exchange software specialist company Cognotec when they observed changes in the foreign exchange market and identified an opportunity to offer a new solution for order management.

According to Mr Fitzpatrick: “The market was evolving and orders were becoming central to trade. The solutions available were traditional in approach and we decided to create something new. People told us we were mad to set up a financial technology company in the middle of the world’s worst financial crisis but we believed in what we were doing.”

Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Curran approached some of the world’s top banks with their ideas to get feedback. One of the world’s top five banks agreed to licence the solution once they had developed it. This provided the new company with validation as well as very early revenue.

Taking its name from a predatory sea creature, Barracuda set up in early 2009 using funding from the founders and operating with a staff of four. By October of that year, the staff size had grown to 15 when the company launched its first module for foreign exchange order management — selling to its first customer, a major world bank with offices in Hong Kong, London and New York.

“Entering into a fast moving market with a client of this size was nerve-wracking but it went well,” says Mr Fitzpatrick; explaining that the revenue stream from this customer allowed the company to focus on expanding its offering and work on developing a suite of products.

During 2010, Barracuda won the InterTrade Ireland ‘Best High Growth Company’ award, which brought welcome recognition and a cash prize of €100,000. The following year, the company secured seed funding from Enterprise Ireland and ACT Venture Capital.

Since then, the company has worked on building up its customer base while continuing to invest in R&D in order to stay ahead of competitors.

Selling directly from the Dublin office, the company has — for the last 18 months — been focusing on selling to the world’s top 50 banks. Once critical mass has been achieved, the company plans to target lower tier banks.

“We have been working on developing a cloud-based offering for smaller banks. We expect to launch this on the market in the fourth quarter of this year,” says Mr Fitzpatrick.

Plans for this year include continuing R&D, the pursuit of world banks and the taking on of an additional five staff. Future plans are likely to include the opening of sales offices in Asia and New York.

“If we can accelerate growth by taking smart money we will consider it,” Mr Fitzpatrick says.

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