Peter O’Dwyer casts an eye over the nominated firms in the emerging category in the Cork Company of The Year Awards 2016.
Yellow Harbour plans to revolutionise an industry
Corporate social responsibility isn’t always seen as the most exciting aspect of business but one young company harbours serious aspirations to change all that.
Based at Cork Institute of Technology’s (CIT) Rubicon Centre, Yellow Harbour has set its sights on charities and companies alike to make giving back a little easier.
Far from being an overly aspirational business plan, there’s a very real gap in the market the Cork company, in business since July 2014, is looking to exploit.
Currently charities in Europe receive less than 2% of their income from corporate donations and payroll giving compared to 35% in the US market.
That gaping chasm is where Yellow Harbour hopes to position itself.
“Yellow Harbour is a cloud based corporate social responsibility (CSR) platform.
"It enables charities to develop sustainable recurring income, facilitates long-term planning, automates the tax refund, doesn’t require capital investment, provides online compliance and vetting; and is easy to use,” according to chief executive, David McCarthy.
If the idea began as a way for charities to develop their fundraising options, it soon became clear that the future of the business lay in targeting the corporate sector.
Clients from the world of commerce are signing up for the bolstered CSR and marketing artillery it provides as well as the trusted database of charities Yellow Harbour opens up to them.
Like all young companies who have to re-chart their course at some stage, that pivot proved to be crucial to the success it’s achieved to date.
Having first presented its business plan to Enterprise Ireland in March 2014, the ascent up the corporate ladder has been impressively swift.
December of that year saw the company awarded EU Tesla funding to open an office in the UK while its first external funding of €25,000 in a pre-angel investment round came a few months later.
This was more than doubled shortly afterwards when in April of last year the South Cork Local Enterprise Office (LEO) rowed in with €34,000 in additional funding — a month or so after the seminal moment of seeing its first revenue arrive had passed.
By July, another €112,000 was secured to help fuel its expansion including €50,000 from the Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund.
With a staff of six and 24 business and charity customers signed up and its first multinational clients on the horizon, Yellow Harbour is seemingly on the up.
“We set out just under two years ago believing we could use technology to make it simple for companies and their employees to support charities with skills, services and time.
“To be shortlisted as a finalist in the Cork Company of the Year Awards, which is recognised as the pre-eminent annual awards event, is truly a great honour and looking at past winners we feel privileged to be a finalist,” Mr McCarthy added.
EireChrom continues to lead the way in mass spectrometry
The growing status of the life sciences industry has been boosted by Cork company EireChrom which describes itself as a recognised leader in their chosen field.
That field — mass spectrometry — has uses across a range of sectors including the pharmaceutical industry, food and beverage and biopharma and drug discovery.
Since being established in February 2013, EireChrom has gone about growing the business with considerable success.
Year-on-year increases in both turnover and profit have marked its progress over the past two years.
Further expansion into the UK and new markets such as the Nordics is on the cards in 2016.
Another goal the company, led by chief executive, PJ Moloney, is hoping to achieve is to be named among Enterprise Ireland high potential startups (HPSU).
HPSUs are start-up businesses with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale on international markets which could create as many as 10 jobs and deliver €1m in sales within three to four years of starting out.
Doing so would be the next step along the road for Mahon-based company which in June 2014 was accepted onto the Cork Competitive Feasibility Fund through Enterprise Ireland.
In August of last year, EireChrom won a share of the IE Domain Registry’s €150,000 Optimise Fund as well receiving €25,000 from the Ryan Entrepreneurship Fund.
The recognition of being named a finalist in the Emerging Category of this year’s Cork Company of the Year Awards is one Mr Moloney and his team of three are delighted to receive.
“It is an absolute privilege to be shortlisted for such a prestigious business award. Just looking at the calibre of companies that have been listed in the emerging category in the past has really given the staff a lift in EireChrom,” Mr Moloney said.
Having added elearning offerings to its website during the year and broadened its presence on social media, 2016 will see the advent of the EireChrom iPhone and Android apps to exploit the growth trajectory mobile now provides.
In the complex world of mass spectrometry EireChrom’s goal remains unchanged in 2016: simply, to be the best.
Growth for software firm Platform Avenue
For a company used to finding innovative ways of putting people in the shop window the tables have now been turned on Platform Avenue as they bid to scoop a major award in recognition of their work.
The software-as-a-service provider allows users to create enriched application processes for a range of sectors from job applications to student grants and reality TV casting.
“Even though the products seem at first glance to be very different they are all comprised of the same components.
"We use the same core software for each and we have yet to launch a new product which hasn’t benefitted the others,” says company chief executive Patrick Dineen.
“Our entire suite of products are constantly evolving and improving but because we process personal data and sensitive commercial and business data, security is our number one priority.”
The idea for the business was born when the CEO, in a previous role, was attempting to place engineers in construction jobs in the Middle East but found it difficult to get candidates accepted based on a traditional CV alone.
So, he decided to use video interviews to bring candidates to life.
It proved so successful that he founded Platform Avenue to build a platform for other companies to use — and use it they have.
It’s reality TV casting platform — My Audition Stage — was the first off the ground with applicants for The Great Irish Bake Off proving an ideal cohort to validate to product.
Since, the software has been used by production companies for other popular shows like The Voice, Room to Improve and Ireland’s Fittest Family.
Having been bootstrapped by Mr Dineen to begin with the company has since been granted Enterprise Ireland Competitive Start Fund status in 2014 and the agency’s high potential startup designation last year.
In summer 2015, the company moved to new offices on Victoria Road where its seven employees continue to grow the business.
With room for 25 staff, the company’s ambition is clear to see.
“Being chosen as a finalist is fantastic recognition for the team at Platform Avenue for the hard work that they have put into developing what I believe is the best application management platform available,” Mr Dineen says.
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