Making It Work: Helping consumers to hunt down best deals on household bills

Cost comparison website Renewaldiary.com, founded by Cormac Horan and Fiachra Ó Comhraí in 2017, aims to assist individuals in crowdsourcing the best deals out there

27th December, 2020
Making It Work: Helping consumers to hunt down best deals on household bills
Cormac Horan and Fiachra Ó Comhraí, founders of Renewal Diary, a platform to help people make smarter decisions at renewal time

Cormac Horan is on a mission to help consumers around the world find the best deals on common household bills, ranging from energy and insurance to mobile and broadband.

The 44-year-old digital product manager is one half of the duo behind Renewaldiary.com, a new online cost comparison site that will, according to Horan, harness the power of the online community to help people crowdsource the best deals in the market.

“We call Renewal Diary a ‘decision engine’. We want to create a global community to help people make smarter decisions at renewal time,” Horan said. “They track their renewals on the site and get access to people-powered leaderboards for insurance, energy, broadband and more. We send them personalised alerts in the run-up to renewals.”

Horan established Renewal Diary in late 2017 with co-founder Fiachra Ó Comhraí. The pair met when Horan was recruited as product and marketing manager at PipelineCheck.com, Ó Comhraí’s previous venture.

“We were building gamification solutions for Salesforce customers and working with telcos in London,” Horan said. “I noticed that they were obsessed with renewal dates, contacting competitors’ customers in the run-up to contract deadlines trying to get them to sign up with them instead.”

Horan hit upon the idea of creating an online platform that would bring these consumers together on one site - a kind of Tripadvisor for household bill renewals.

“I said to Fiachra: what if we put the power into consumers' hands, where they would have control over all their bills in one place and could keep track of their own renewals? Providers could then compete for their business come renewal time,” Horan said.

Horan and Ó Comhraí have so far populated the Renewal Diary platform with details of 50,000 providers, brokers and comparison sites in 12 countries, including Ireland, Britain, the US, Australia and India.

“They’re all up there whether they like it or not, and consumers will be able to rank them on the leaderboards based on their popularity in specific locations. They’ll vote for their favourites and post comments as well.”

Providers would benefit both from access to these consumers and also information on their buying habits and preferences, Horan said.

“To see who the top three providers are on each of the leaderboards, individual users will have to first provide us with their own details. Do they buy direct, through a broker or comparison site? Do they shop around? What are their ratings? They get access to the leaderboards only after we have that information.”

Renewal Diary is currently undergoing beta testing in the Irish market, in the insurance category initially. Some 400 users here have signed up to take part in the trial, but its big target market starting out will be the US.

Horan and Ó Comhraí are in the process of raising €500,000 in seed funding. They have so far secured €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland, the state agency, and a further €150,000 from other sources.

“We hope to have the round closed in January and to continue the beta testing through the first six months of 2021,” Horan said.

“We want to be in the US by the second quarter and to move out into other markets after that using Enterprise Ireland’s network of overseas offices. Ideally, we will have 50,000 consumers signed up to the platform by the end next year.”

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