Website developers are showing significant interest in an automated bug-fixing platform created by AIP Technology, an award-wining innovative Cork-based startup.
Stephen Wilson Downey is CEO and founder of AIP Technology, the platform targeting some 4.1 million website developers worldwide for whom daily maintenance work is a hugely time-consuming chore, notably updating out-of-date website components.
AIP (Artificial Intelligence Platform) Technology technology has just won the overall ‘Best Business Opportunity’ award in the latest New Frontiers programme at the Rubicon Centre, CIT, the Phase 2 business incubator programme, whose 2019-20 graduates were unveiled last week. AIP has already progressed to a new accelerator programme with the NDRC in Dublin.
AIP has grown out of Spéire, a technology company founded by CIT graduates Stephen Wilson Downey and Dave Lyons, with Cian Fahy then joining to add extra technical skills. The daily chore they’re automating is a problem very familiar to website developers.
“We came across a problem which is really frustrating website developers all over the world,” said Stephen Wilson Downey. “Currently, website developers spend hours and at times; days fixing problems caused by updating out of date website components.
“Taking WordPress as an example, one component can argue with another causing a website to break or crash. It is crucially important to keep these components up to date. Taking 2019 into account, 60% of websites are breached maliciously due to out of date components that become ‘back doors’. This is essential work that website developers cannot avoid.”
Stephen and his Spéire colleagues searched for bug-fixing tools, but found nothing that really fixed the time-consuming issues they were facing. And so AIP Technology was born.
AIP has been constructed to completely automate the maintenance work that website developers carry out on a weekly basis to keep websites live and up to date. This platform has been developed to save time and money in relation to the delivery of this important work.
Stephen and Dave approached Enterprise Ireland and availed of an online trading voucher and from there entered the New Frontiers programme which is delivered in the Rubicon Centre in Cork.
“The team and mentors at the Rubicon were excellent in their assistance with putting us in touch with the right contacts to keep driving the solution forward,” said Stephen.
AIP is currently in a data collection phase. They have identified 78,000 agencies that specifically deliver WordPress maintenance at a combined cost of $3.9bn. AIP has raised €80,000 so far and continues to raise funds which will bring the company well beyond market release.
“Just over three years ago, we set up Spéire to design and develop high quality websites at an affordable rate for businesses of any scale,” recalls Stephen. “Eight months in, I realised my colleagues were under a tremendous amount of pressure. I was after signing up five new websites and that was when I realised there was a serious issue with the maintenance of websites.
“We were pouring a lot of time into fixing a bug that brought down an e-commerce website on our portfolio. We needed to disable key areas of the website while we got to the root cause of the problem. We sifted through approximately 8,000 lines of code and spotted the issue — a missing comma! It took four days to find that needle in a haystack.”
This bug led to a delay in all new projects, decimating the company’s margin for that month. Stephen and Dave set about trying to automate future bug-fixing. No existing solution fixed the issues.
“I approached Enterprise Ireland and availed of the innovation voucher and got to work,” said Stephen. “We met a very talented Masters student and together we built something ground-breaking. We built a ‘brain’ that can not only detect an error occurring; but it has the capacity to fix an issue and keep its knowledge up to date.
“The best part about this is what we have built. Our platform can process thousands of websites at a cost that is entirely negligible. Why? Because it thinks about only what’s necessary, it conserves the amount of processing power it uses on servers which in turn keeps the running costs down.”
The AIP team believe that they are only getting started have big ambitions to expand beyond their current bug-fixing platform. They hope to evolve and tackle other issues facing digital businesses around the world on a daily basis.
“Our participation in the New Frontiers programme was essential in validating the key areas of our business as we progressed,” said Stephen. “What I found most beneficial was that we were put in front of the right people rapidly which helped us address the key gaps in our business in a timely manner.
“We are currently collecting a bank of data to scale up our product’s offering, our goal is to create something that people truly love and benefit greatly from its use. Bringing this to market is the easy part; collecting the data is the big job.
“We are very keen to speak with as many website agencies and developers across Ireland as possible to have their say in our release of their dream product.”
New Frontiers programme, September 2020: Open for applications
Alison Walsh, New Frontiers programme manager at The Rubicon Centre, said the quality and commitment of the latest group of graduates in New Frontiers were key to the success of this programme.
“They were an interesting group of founders with innovative companies,” she said. “We moved the final review and showcase event online. We used our social channels to celebrate all our latest Phase 2 New Frontiers cohort by releasing two of their explainer videos each day. ”
Each year, the participants undergo a review at two-monthly intervals. This year, the final review panel was asked to make the award decision. The panel members were: Alison Walsh; Paul Healy, Rubicon centre manager; Ciara Concannon, senior development adviser from Enterprise Ireland; and Paul Mc Guirk, head of enterprise, Local Enterprise Office, Cork City).
“We are now open for expressions of interest for the next intake of New Frontiers Phase 2 commencing in September 2020 and are hoping to spread the word that we are looking for candidates,” said Alison Walsh.
Those interested in the September 2020 programme can express interest onor email: .
New Frontiers Phase 2 class of 2019-20
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