Taking the toil out of data input for book-keeping

Trish Dromey talks to a Dublin-based fintech firm that is taking the drudgery out of book-keeping.

Brendan Woods: Seeking €3m funds.

To go global with intelligent automated data management software designed to take the drudgery out of book-keeping and accounting, Dublin fintech firm OCREX is seeking €3m in funding.

Employing 16 staff between Dublin and London and selling to more than 2,000 accounting firms in Ireland and the UK, the company plans to use the funding to develop sales to the US and Australia and for ongoing research and development purposes.

“Our aim is to establish ourselves as the leading global provider of capture software for invoices, receipts, statements and other documents. We expect to employ an additional 45 to 50 staff over the next two years and to increase our turnover 20-fold by 2020,” said OCREX founder and chief executive Brendan Woods.

Established in 2011, the company went to market a year later with its first product — software designed to automate the capture of data from bank statements.

Mr Woods came up with the product idea while working in enterprise software development at the IFSC.

“A colleague told me he left accounting because of the boredom of typing up bank statements. I thought there must be a way to use technology to do this,” he said.

When he looked, he found that there was generic technology available to capture data but nothing specific or accurate enough for use in accounting. Developing a rudimentary solution in his spare time, he showed it to some accounting firms and got an enthusiastic response.

Quitting his job, he set up the company in 2011, employed a software developer and worked on developing the software, called AutoRec, which was ready for launch by June 2012.

“We used the yellow pages to find clients and within three years were selling to 1,800 accounting and book-keeping firms. We went into the UK market from the start, where this software is now used by 40% of the top accounting firms,” said Mr Woods.

Since inception he has raised in excess of €1.4m, which included Angel funding in 2012 and both private investment and HPSU (Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up) funding in 2014.

The 2014 funding was used to recruit staff and conduct R&D for OCREX’s second product — a solution designed to automate the capture of accounting data from a range of different documents.

“Clients asked us for a solution that could recognise invoices. Huge amounts of time were being spent on typing these up. When we looked at it we realised this was a much bigger market than the one we were already addressing.” Two years later the company launched AutoEntry.

“This eliminates book-keeping data entry and the need to type up data from invoices, receipts, bank and card statements — work that takes staff hours to type up every month can now be completely automated by AutoEntry,’’ said Mr Woods, adding that the software is being used by 17,000 small businesses, mostly clients of OCREX’s customers.

He said sales of AutoEntry have grown by an average of 30% per month for the last 14 months and that the UK market now accounts for 85% of total sales. Despite the sales growth, the fall in the value of sterling following the Brexit vote has caused some difficulties for OCREX. But the funding being raised now will allow the company to develop new markets such as the US and Australia.

Employing 12 staff in Ireland and six in the UK, OCREX is planning to take on its first Australian staff member within the next few months.

Once fundraising is completed, the company will recruit sales teams in both Australia and the US.

Focusing on selling AutoEntry to the English-speaking world, OCREX is going up against 21 competitors globally in a market space estimated to be worth €3bn.

Mr Woods said the strength of his company’s offering lies in additional functionality and the fact that it is integrated with many of the leading book-keeping solutions such as Xero, Quickbooks, and Sage.

Up until now OCREX concentrated on selling to accountancy and book-keeping firms, but for the future it is looking at a much larger market.

“Our addressable market is every SME, since every business buys goods and services and receives invoices,” according to Mr Woods.



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