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Growth in the fast lane

Two business founders, Claire McHugh of Axonista and Peter Foley of LetsGetChecked, explain what makes a Deloitte Fast 50 winner

Claire McHugh, chief executive, Axonista: ‘What is most encouraging to see with younger founders today is more women in leadership positions.’ Picture: SON Photographic

Bringing streaming to modern-day shopping

Never short of innovation, last year’s Fast 50 saw the entry of Axonista, which brings live streaming to the e-commerce experience. Chief executive and founder Claire McHugh said that placing in the awards programme provides tangible recognition to Axonista’s achievements, as well as encouraging the team to push forward.

“It’s a real endorsement of the work that we've achieved for brands like QVC and Virgin Media. We have ambitious plans to launch a self-service product and it really encourages us to go ahead with that,” she said.

Axonista augments e-commerce, normally a fairly static experience, enabling brands to demonstrate products via streamed video. Unsurprisingly, given a focus on video and social media, Axonista’s team has a lot of younger members.

“We have a lot of Gen Z on our team. We have a super technology team – all very much experts across the live streaming and video space. My own background is in live sports TV, which gives me personal experience of the challenges faced by brands considering livestream technology” McHugh said.

Like all Fast 50 entrants, Axonista has already demonstrated success, but placing in the awards programme provides it with an imprimatur only possible because the awards are based on measurable quantitative data rather than the opinion of judges.

“It gives us industry recognition and a quality stamp of approval that is very helpful to our future plans,” said McHugh.

As a female founder, McHugh said that while things were improving, more could be done to encourage women to become entrepreneurs.

“There are some excellent programmes for women-led business in Ireland such as Awaken Hub and Going for Growth, and support at policy level, such as with Scale Ireland, but as an industry we need to continue to level the playing field: fund women, hire women, promote women, continue to grow women. What is most encouraging to see with younger founders today is more women in leadership positions,” she said.

Peter Foley, chief executive, LetsGetChecked: ‘It's a great achievement for everyone within the business’

True value of awards lies in their objectivity

Every business that enters the Deloitte Fast 50 knows that its real value is in its objectivity as the awards measure growth in the past 12 months. Last year’s winner, health insights platform LetsGetChecked, is very much a case in point.

Peter Foley, chief executive of LetsGetChecked, said this was why it was good to participate in the awards.

“It’s a recognition of real achievement. It’s based on financial performance and quantitative growth metrics, which is a tangible indication of how the business is growing as a leading provider of at-home healthcare solutions,” he said.

The impact of winning was felt particularly strongly by LetsGetChecked’s team, who had worked hard across a diverse range of disciplines to develop the platform.

“It's a great achievement for everyone within the business,” Foley said. “Since we own and operate the entire supply chain, we’re a pretty broad group, from software engineers to product and operations executives to lab scientists, clinicians, pharmacists, and beyond.

“All these components together are what make our business our business, and the award was reflective of the hard work that everyone has put in across the organisation. It allows us to pause and recognise all that the team has achieved to get us to this point.”

Demand for home healthcare has long been strong, but now with the twin forces of technological change and lessons learned during the pandemic it is likely to grow even more. Foley said that in the past 12 months, LetsGetChecked had continued to grow.

“We won the award [last year], measured on 2020 to 2021, but 2021 into 2022 will see the same level of growth – and in areas that extend beyond diagnostics, including virtual consultation, pharmacy, and genetics,” he said.

Like many Fast 50 entrants and laureates, LetsGetChecked serves a broad range of audiences, including consumers, Fortune 500 organisations, health plans, provider groups, and the public sector.

“Our scalable infrastructure and API tool set allow a wide range of partners to enable diagnostic testing and virtual care from home, thereby increasing access to care for the people who need it most,” Foley said.