‘Dreamers, tech ninjas and doers’ take top spot

Cork-based machine vision and artificial intelligence company Everseen jumped into the Fast 50 in the top spot. Supporting retail, next year can only get better for its technology platform

Ronan Murray, partner and head of financial advisory Munster, Deloitte, and Alan O’Herlihy, chief executive, Everseen, and overall winner, Deloitte Fast 50 Ireland Picture: John Allen

It’s one thing to qualify for the Fast 50, it’s quite another to win it in your first year – and yet that is just what Blackpool, Co Cork-based Everseen has done.

The company may have shot out of nowhere as far as outsiders are concerned, but chief executive Alan O’Herlihy said the artificial intelligence (AI) company has been growing and producing unmatched returns for its customers over the last number of years.

“We’ve been working away in a very low-key way, humbled by our continued growth and always focused on delivering,” he said.

Everseen’s exponential growth has seen it triumph on its first outing with the Fast 50 programme.

“We went for it, thinking it would be good to be in it, but we didn’t expect to win it,” O’Herlihy said.

The company develops a proprietary ‘Visual AI’ platform that can rapidly build vision-based applications for checkout intelligence, supply chain intelligence and process automation.

One of its applications builds on self-checkout software for retailers.

Replacing the hated weighing scales and their plaintiff cries of ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ with an intelligent system, means customers are happier, staff are less frazzled and losses are cut.

“With traditional systems, they might stop customers up to 20 per cent of the time. We get that down to around 2 per cent,” O’Herlihy said.

However, the system does more than just identify items. It also makes intelligent decisions.

“We’re people-aware – though we’re non-invasive as we don’t do facial recognition –and we’re product aware, but we’re also action-aware and environment-aware,” he said.

“Overwhelmingly, though, we’re process-aware, so if a process breaks down for any reason the system intervenes.”

The system allows for customers to self-correct, thus reducing the need for staff interaction. Staff can be called if the customer requires help, though, or is behaving suspiciously.

“Retailers have asked us to allow customers who make a mistake to self-correct. If they can correct it and they do then we leave them alone. If they can’t, or don’t, then staff can be called and presented with an image of the item. This means a lot less, and appropriate, intervention.”

This way, both mistakes and plain theft can be cut. As a result, retailers who might have accepted a relatively high shrinkage rate for up to six per cent can use Everseen’s system to get this to a significantly lower figure.

The business may have developed under the radar but Everseen has major clients across both the US and the EU, and the company is working with seven of the top 10 Global Retailers.

Aside from being the Fast 50 Ireland overall winner, Everseen also snagged another gong: the Innovative New Technology Award, an award delivered in association with Google.

Naturally, given Everseen is this year’s winner, growth has been rapid. The business currently has offices in Ireland, Romania, Serbia, India and the United States. It plans to open further offices in the EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions as it moves into new markets in 2021.

Indeed, Everseen achieved a growth rate of 2,879 per cent over the last four years.

Its position in next year’s awards will be interesting too, given the coronavirus pandemic retailers have been looking for new and innovative ways not only to stay open but to ease the concerns of consumers.

“Self-checkout, in general, has been growing exponentially, and with Covid even more so,” O’Herlihy said.

Everseen’s technology seems an ideal fit: with its reduced need for staff intervention over traditional self-checkouts, let alone manned checkouts, it certainly helps with social distancing. Even if, as we all hope, things return to normal in 2021, what is clear is that the retail landscape will have changed radically. Technologies such as AI might just mean that not all of the changes need be negative.

In continuous expansion mode, Everseen is hiring aggressively in Ireland, US, Romania, and Serbia.

"We are on the hunt for more tech ninjas, dreamers and doers.”

For O’Herlihy this, as with the award, is a vindication of a good idea well implemented.

‘"We will be a billion US dollar valuation company very soon,” O’Herlihy said.

“Certainly, with the traction we are achieving right now, and the huge addressable market, both in retail and beyond, the future is very bright for Everseen," he said.