Monday, 11 May 2015

Startup Stories 2015 -

Our 3rd Startup story for 2015 is

The story of how your company got started? 

Myself and Thomas started dreaming about owning our own business from way back in our college days.  We had spent the last number of years working for large multinationals and developing our skill set in e-commerce, operations, supply chain, finance and commercial law.  We eventually saw a niche in the printer ink business whereby we could apply our unique set of skills to developing a state of the art e-commerce website.  It took almost two years from the initial concept to develop our online strategy and deploy our state of the art website.  Initially we saw a big gap in the market in terms of search criteria for consumers finding the right products to match their printers.  We set out to develop a search box that could easily navigate through the thousands of printer codes and printer machines and easily located the customers’ requirements within the click of a button. 

 Firstly after loading of the information into the backend of the site we devised a way to show customers a picture of their printer and then display the correct cartridges for the machine.  Other websites show lists of codes and makes it very difficult for consumers to select the right products.  Secondly we included a favourite feature to save your printer models, making it easier next time to find your cartridges and repeat order.  This means the average users finds what they are looking for on the website within two easy clicks!  We also made the mobile friendly so it could be accessed on all platforms.  Currently we are finding 50% of our users are logging in through their iphones and ipads while surfing the net.  As well as search ability we sourced top quality product and offered customers free delivery on orders over €20, otherwise a small charge of €1.99 would be incurred.  This means the price you see, is the price you pay, and significant savings compared to competitor websites.

Another important factor for us was to develop a fun website that takes out the dreary, boring part of ordering printer ink cartridges, and so Carter was born.  Carter is our brand name and loveably mascot that you can see throughout the website.  As well as offering customer support, Carter helps customers navigate through the site in an non obtrusive way.  Building up our brand image has been an integral part of our success, and developing our customer loyalty has been a key focus of the business.

How you funded the startup?

Madinks was self-financed from the two main directors of the business.  It has become increasing difficult to get credit in the Irish market, and this has hindered the Irish Technology sector to some degree.  However I am finding more entrepreneurs are now moving forward with renewed tenacity, and new innovative websites and companies have been born out of the Irish recession, not unlike the evolution of Google from the last global recession.  Fortunately in times of need, inspiration always finds a way to break through and I am looking forward to a new stream of websites into the Irish market over the coming years! 

Developing a Team, who are the key members? 

Myself and Thomas were friends since college, both studying Business and Law in UCD and graduating back in 1999. Elias and I had worked together on a number of projects prior to starting Madinks, and so when the time came to put thoughts into action, we had a team of well experienced business partners, with a diversified skill set.I myself came from a ten year Operations Management role with a large Multi-National Medical company, which of course has helped drive logistics, customer services and lean processes, through intensive six sigma training. Our Finance and Legal Director, Thomas Bullman has both a Masters in Commercial Law and a PhD, coupled with 15 years’ experience in the Private Equity Sector. Finally Elias Darwish is our Marketing and Sales Director with extensive experience from working in both Google and Microsoft. Together our team has many years of experience with a strong academic background, and practical training from some of the largest Multi-Nationals in the world.  We also have a team of developers that are constantly upgrading and developing the website.  The key to a successful website is that you keep reinvesting in new technology platforms and monitor customer satisfaction levels so you can keep tweaking the service levels.

How Partnerships have worked to help grow your business?

Our most valuable partner is An Post who manage our delivery and distribution for us.  We have managed to set up a model that processes orders up to 5pm each day and we always mange to provide a next day delivery service thanks to our key delivery partner.  We have also worked with an award winning development company called Artizan who have been instrumental in delivering our concept from design to deployment.  After the initial launch we managed to win the Eircom Business Awards 2014 for Digital Retail Excellence.  We have also won best e-Commerce Micro Website at the 2014 Web Awards.  The great thing about the early successes, is the credibility it gives the business, and the inspiration to keep going and developing the business.

 How the economy has played a role in your business starting?

For us the economy has played a large role, as we pride ourselves on delivering the best quality product at the lowest possible prices on the market today.  We have found a large increase in business users as they are beginning to switch over to Madinks and trust in our product and capability.  Home users have also played a large part in developing the business.  As times get tough people look for a cheaper alternative to what they have paid in the past.  Thankfully we have managed to provide an award winning service to the end user and cement our names in the print industry as the Number 1 site for sourcing top quality product at affordable prices!

 How you see Ireland's Tech scene for home grown startups?

This is an exciting time in Ireland for Tech Companies.  At the last Web Awards I could see a huge influx of new ideas and innovations which are now making their way onto the market.  I think a lot difficulties in the past have been down to finance not being available through traditional means, and so technology companies have had to adapt and take the slower route to market.  Only the bold survive, and from the down turn in the economy a bold new band of technology warriors have emerged, hungry and adaptive!  This will pave the way forward for Irish Technology companies to keep risking ideas and finances to grow this newly emerging market, and hopefully inspire many more to follow suit!