Making it Work

Matrix Internet to open new office in Brussels as it eyes further European expansion

The digital agency provides web design, digital marketing and ecommerce services to state and private agencies and has found that Covid and Brexit have opened up new opportunities for Irish businesses abroad

Jeff Sheridan, managing director, Matrix Internet: ‘We’re on the edge of the point where we’re growing that much that you’d be a bit nervous.’ Picture: Fergal Phillips

When Jeff Sheridan founded Matrix Internet all the way back in 2000, his main competition came not from any web design or digital marketing agencies, but from the Golden Pages.

“I’d rock up to a company and tell them they needed a website, and they’d say: ‘Look, the Golden Pages is working for us, and that’s what we’re going to put all our money into’,” Sheridan told the Business Post. “That was a typical scenario at the time.”

Today, in an utterly changed world, Matrix Internet is growing rapidly, having increased its revenues by between 25 and 30 per cent annually over the last four years. The company employs 45 people and expects to add five more in the coming months. It is also planning to open a new office in Brussels by September as it takes on a number of new clients in the Benelux region.

“We’re on the edge of the point where we’re growing that much that you’d be a bit nervous,” Sheridan said. “It’s nearly a white-knuckle ride, but we’re not quite over that edge.”

After 20 years in business, Sheridan has seen his fair share of ups and downs. In 2008, his Enterprise Ireland-backed company was forced to trim its cloth amid the financial crash, and in recent years it has contended with the forces of both Brexit and Covid-19.

Fortunately for Matrix, both of those major external events have actually played in its favour. The pandemic forced companies to accelerate their digital transition, at the same time as remote conference calls made it easier for Irish companies to compete for international business.

Meanwhile, Britain’s EU exit meant some would-be rivals in the digital sphere no longer represented competition for potential European clients. Matrix spotted the gap and “took a gamble on it”, Sheridan said.

“Between Covid making the international market a bit nearer and easier to access, and then with the UK closing its doors inwards and outwards due to Brexit, that created an opportunity for us. We started to really look at Europe then, which was a game-changer for us.”

Matrix offers a range of services including web design, digital marketing and ecommerce development. It counts a number of government departments and agencies among its clients, including the Department of Health and Fáilte Ireland, and also sells to private sector customers like Europcar, FreeNow and Miele.

In Europe, the firm also has contracts with a number of public bodies including the European Environment Agency and the European Coastguard Agency.

“Until a few years ago, we were a big fish in a relatively small pond,” Sheridan said. “But the time was right to expand the pond, and to look further, and then suddenly we realised it was much easier to do business internationally than we thought. It has really worked well for us.”

In the coming years, Matrix is aiming to have developed a significant reputation globally as a digital agency. “In two years’ time, we want to be looked upon as a leading digital provider,” Sheridan said. “I want us to have opened three external offices.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland