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Big Red Cloud’s online bookkeeping software does well with start-ups and businesses struggling to collect cash, says chief executive Marc O’Dwyer.

Accounting software provider Big Red Cloud is considering making another run at an IPO, having pulled out of the move earlier this year. “We decided to postpone in May because we didn’t like the way the market was going. It’s up for consideration again in the next couple of weeks and months,” Marc O’Dwyer, chief executive of Big Red Cloud, told The Sunday Business Post.

The Dublin firm is looking at listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London in order to drive attention in the British market. “The idea of going on AIM was partially about funding but also giving a PR slant to the British market, where we’re not well known,” said O’Dwyer. “Our key area is start-up businesses. There are 3,500 new start-ups in Ireland every month and 44,000 in Britain.

We wanted to get the name out there to those businesses.” The company founded in 1992, has 22 staff and is based in Glenageary, Co. Dublin. Originally named Big Red Book, the company re-branded in 2012 to reflect the change in its offerings. “We wanted to change the perception because everything is moving towards the cloud,” said O’Dwyer. “How we sell our products has completely changed.

We’re using social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to get into the minds of people who haven’t even thought of setting up a new business. If they do, we want them to think of Big Red Cloud,” he said. “We are also reaching out to smaller businesses, who are very savvy when it comes to social media, in order to reach them and explain what we do.”

The start-up space remains the core focus of the business despite the change in how Big Red Cloud delivers its services. “We have always done well in the start-up space. We did pretty well during the downturn because existing businesses who were trying to collect cash were struggling to know how much they were owed,” said O’Dwyer. “We saw an uptake in our software because these businesses saw we weren’t expensive to use. Now start-ups are savvy and don’t necessarily have the money up front to pay for a large accounting package. With us they can go to an internet cafe and have the software for a fraction of the cost.”

The Big Red Cloud founder said the firm is on course to have annual turnover of €30 million within the next three years, reaching €100 million within the next five. The key driver is the firm’s focus on the British market.

At present just over three per cent of Big Red Cloud’s business is coming from Britain, having started pushing its products there in the spring. O’Dwyer’s goal is to make the British side of the business ten times larger than its base in Ireland.

“It’s like starting over again. We got 50 companies signed up through one accountant there in July because accountants know what our software is about,” said O’Dwyer. “We’re saving not only the start-up time but also the accountants. We get 43 per cent of our recommendations from accountants because they know when a small business owner goes into our software, they will find it easy to use and run their own books confidently,” he said. “It’s still a different market. We are adjusting our prices and marketing strategy for Britain.”

At present, Big Red Cloud is signing up 150 new customers a month from Ireland. O’Dwyer said the goal is to sign up 1,500 new customers monthly from Britain.

“We see it becoming the dominant part of our business and from there we want to move into other territories. There are 50 Commonwealth countries where our product will work, and we have earmarked nine European countries,” said O’Dwyer.

Big Red Cloud has adapted its software to work on tablets and is currently developing smartphone applications. O’Dwyer said the user experience was crucial to developing this technology. “We need to work out what functions people need on different devices. A sales person on the road might only need to perform invoicing on a smartphone while a managing director might need business intelligence tools,” he said.

©Extract from interview with Emmet Ryan, Sunday Business Post.


Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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