Startup of the day: Supply.ie

ImageMike McGrath, founder, Supply.ie

Company: Supply.ie   Founder: Mike McGrath

What it does: the company provides a tendering service where small companies bid for jobs, services and contracts that other small companies need fulfilled

Funding: Enterprise Ireland grant, currently seeking private funding

For big companies, sourcing goods and services that are needed is no problem. They have departments to handle that. Need a printing contract? An IT cabling service? New staples for the office staplers? Enterprises are built to make sure such pedestrian sourcing issues aren’t time-consuming challenges.

But it’s a very different story for small businesses. When you’re bootstrapping, building your company’s core until 11pm every night, the last thing you want to have to do is to trawl through the Golden Pages looking for someone who offers the best deals on batches of business cards or padded envelopes.

This is what Supply.ie is all about.

“It’s a bit like what the government does with eTenders,” said Mike McGrath, the company’s founder.

“When they have something they need to source, they put their requirement up online and let other companies come to tender for it. We want to do the same for the private sector.

One problem that eTenders has, though, is its bureaucracy and form-filling.

“We try to make it a bit easier than the way eTenders does it,” said McGrath.

“eTenders is quite cumbersome and there’s a lot of paperwork.”

And profitability? How does Supply.ie make money from this service?

“We make the introduction and the buyer transacts with the supplier after that,” said McGrath. “We get a small introduction referral fee from the supplier.”

For McGrath, this is a first foray into running a business. Having worked for HP and Microsoft, he then went to work for GXP Systems, a Cork-based engineering and project management company.

“They didn’t have a supply sourcing system like big multinationals do,” he said. “Having worked in multinationals where there were systems in place to do this, I remember thinking that there must be a better solution to supply sourcing problems for small companies.”

The resulting website is commendably transparent, openly displaying many buyers, sellers and transactions have occurred. (Yesterday, there were 470 buyers and 1,770 suppliers listed on the site, with a monthly total of just under €2,000 in transactions.)

“It’s important to show people how many buyers are there,” said McGrath. “It gives a sense of trust in the site. We actually have a database of 15,000 suppliers we’re working on. So whatever a company is looking for, we have companies to supply quotes for them.

The most recently updated version of the site went live just five weeks ago, as McGrath prepares a strategy to licence the technology for the British market.

McGrath said that he is “already in discussions with number of large companies” in Britain about licensing the software.

Having been backed with a grant from Enterprise Ireland, he is also looking to private funding now.

“We’ve started to talk to a number of investors,” he said. “Primarily private and angel investment. You learn more from them than from anyone else. They really critique the business.”

Contact journalist: adrian@businesspost.ie. Contact desk: digital@businesspost.ie.

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