Dublin energy solutions firm Acutrace plans to expand into the US, writes Trish Dromey.
The overall winner of this year’s National Enterprise Awards, Dublin energy management software start-up Acutrace, is setting its sights on new markets in both Europe and the US.
The €12,000 it took away from the competition and the publicity it received from winning it, will help with plans to raise “significant” funding for overseas expansion in the next two years.
The award comes just over two years since co-founders Aidan McDonnell and John Lynch set out to create energy measurement software which would allow them to collect data in commercial buildings.
Acutrace now has more than 60 customers and, since shortly after launching on the market, has been selling into the UK which now accounts for 40% of turnover.
“We have doubled turnover every year and have a full time staff of five,” said Mr McDonnell, the company’s chief executive.
Selling to building owners, energy managers, engineering managers and property management companies, Acutrace has completed projects for Google and Twitter in Ireland as well as the Irish Aviation Authority and the 225-metre Leadenhall Building — one of the highest skyscrapers in London.
The company’s founders are electrical engineers who previously worked in industrial automation and came to know each other through occasionally working together on projects.
“We shared the view that businesses needed better visibility of what was happening with energy — that they needed software which would allow them to pinpoint where and when energy is being used and to identify where it is being wasted,” said Mr McDonnell.
He said that before deciding to get into the energy management software business they researched the market but could find no solutions which provided the comprehensive level of analysis they believed were required to manage energy efficiently.
Using their own funding to set the company up at Riverview Business Park in Lucan at the start of 2015, they launched at the Dublin Energy Show in March.
Called Acutrace MVAC (Measure, Visualise, Analyse and Control) system the solution is designed to measure all utilities and has the ability to collect data from a multitude of building systems.
“We had good contacts in the industry and this allowed us to hit the ground running.
“The Irish Aviation Authority headquarters on D’Olier Street [in Dublin] was one of our first customers and within a few months we began work on the Leadenhall Building,’’ said company chief technical officer John Lynch.
Supported by South Dublin Local Enterprise Office, the company took on three employees and at the end of 2016 opened an office in London.
While still growing the business in both Ireland and the UK, Mr McDonnell said Acutrace is now carrying out trials with companies in Germany and Austria and has also established contacts in Portugal, Spain Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
Selling to different customer types in Ireland and the UK, Acutrace is working on a new strategy for selling in Europe.
“We are now in discussions with both reseller and systems integrators in ten countries,” said Mr McDonnell.
Moving into a competitive international market, he says the accuracy of the data measured sets the company apart from its competitors.
“Our key selling point is that our software provides complete visualisation of all energy costs with full data analytics ensuring clear, precise real-time feedback for users.”
He explained that in addition to measuring utilities, the solution also measures environmental data such as temperature and humidity.
“We have the ability to communicate across multiple protocols which means we can ‘talk’ to any system in a building including light controls heating and ventilation and we have a built-in internet of things platform.”
Acutrace’s plan for this year is to raise funding, employ an additional five people and develop sales in Europe as well as enhancing its software by adding air quality measurement.
Mr McDonnell said the long-term plan is to move into the US market.
“By the end of 2019 we expect to have a turnover of €5m and a staff of 15 people. In 2020 we will be ready to sell in the US.”
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