For the winner of the 2014 Best Young Entrepreneur Award, Eamon Keane, it all began with a long wait for a fast-food delivery.
“I waited for over an hour wondering if the delivery was coming or whether the driver had got lost and I thought there must be a better way,” says the 28-year-old entrepreneur, whose company, Xpreso, uses cutting-edge technology to create a direct link between delivery couriers and consumers.
The solution solves the “sorry we missed you” problem as well as the waiting-for-hours problem by using technology to provide consumers with an accurate one-hour delivery window.
Using a web link or an app, consumers can track the delivery and also reroute it to a neighbour if necessary.
In a world where e-commerce is worth $1.3 trillion a year, with 40m parcels being delivered, Mr Keane sees global opportunities for Xpreso. Now being used by Ireland’s largest independent courier company Nightline, Xpreso is targeting the UK this year, with a view to winning a large courier company as a customer.
Mr Keane says the key selling points for the company’s solution are improvement in customer satisfaction and cost reductions for courier companies, which can avoid sending deliveries to empty houses. “We aim to be the leading solution for the last mile delivery,” he says.
A mechanical engineer, Mr Keane was working on a PhD when he had the idea for Xpreso. Joined by software engineer Gabiano Pallonetto and engineer Paulo Tubbert, he set up the company in December 2012. Initially focusing on fast-food deliveries, the trio developed the software over six months.
Realising that trying to target a huge number of fast-food outlets would be an uphill struggle, Xpreso shifted its focus to the courier industry, which has a significant number of large players and proved much more accessible.
Researching the courier industry, Mr Keane found there were a number of tracking systems in use but none which could say where the delivery van was after it left the depot.
At this point, Xpreso joined forces with Simon Pleass who had 30 years of experience in the courier industry and was working on a similar idea.
During 2013, the company worked on developing the software and subsequently running a six-month trial with Nightline, one of Ireland’s largest independent delivery firms. Started with €10,000 of Mr Keane’s money in 2012, Xpreso enrolled in the NDRC Launchpad incubation in 2013. This provided €20,000 in funding and winning the NDRC Lift Off 8 competition at the end of the year provided a further €30,000.
During 2014 Xpreso secured €15,000 in funding from participating in the MasterCard Partnership Programme which also gave the company mentoring and office space at Sandyford Industrial Estate.
At the end of the year, Mr Keane took prize money of €20,000 after being named the South Dublin Best Young Entrepreneur as well as a further €50,000 as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur.
Starting 2015 with a raised profile and prize money, Xpreso is now finalising details on a fundraising round of €850,000 with venture capital companies and Enterprise Ireland. This will be used to fund its expansion into the UK. “We have had discussions with DHL in Ireland and the UK and also with online retailers,” says Mr Keane.
Currently employing a staff of seven, Xpreso is in the process of recruiting two PHP developers. The aim is to grow the staff size to 12 by the end of the year. After the UK rollout, the company plans to move into Europe by 2016. The target is to achieve a turnover of €3m in three years. www.xpreso.com