Making It Work: Platform helps stores get their online images right

Content Llama, which manages product images and descriptions on retailers’ websites, has just landed a major US contract

19th March, 2021
Making It Work: Platform helps stores get their online images right
Joleen Looney and Karina Kelly, co-founders of Content Llama: in 2020, its first full year of trading, the company went from ‘zero to sales of €450,000’. Photo: Andrew Downes

Content Llama is helping online retailers to improve sales with technology that takes care of the time-consuming business of managing product imagery and descriptions.

The platform has earned the Irish tech start-up an international contract with Moosejaw, the outdoor clothing and gear brand owned by Walmart, the biggest retail chain in the US.

Content Llama is also in the process of closing a €2 million funding round. Existing backers include Mike Dawson, group chief executive at One4All, and Pa Nolan, a serial investor and former director of both One4All and Fexco.

It has been a busy few months for Karina Kelly and Joleen Looney, the co-founders of Content Llama. In 2020, its first full year of trading, the company went from “zero to sales of €450,000”, they said.

The company now has 18 customers, including Elverys, Life Style Sports and Sysco (formerly Pallas Foods) in Ireland, and Walmart in the US.

“The second half of this year will be all about the States. Moosejaw is a big deal for us. We’re already working on the online imagery for its spring/summer range,” Kelly said.

“It validates our business model and proves that the problem we’ve identified is a global one. Right now we’re getting our ducks in a row, hiring a chief technology officer and preparing operationally to scale.”

Kelly and Looney set up Content Llama in 2019 after Kelly had taken part in New Frontiers, the entrepreneur development programme run by Enterprise Ireland.

“I’d gone in to New Frontiers with an idea for a business that would help retailers prepare images for online stores. I came out of it understanding that the problem was bigger than I’d thought and that I needed a new approach,” Kelly said.

Content Llama sources product images and descriptions for retailers, formats them for different categories and uploads them to their online system.

“After Karina researched this problem on New Frontiers, I joined her on an NDRC (National Digital Research Centre) digital accelerator programme at PorterShed in Galway. We carried out research internationally with retailers and Content Llama was born,” Looney said.

She and Kelly are now running the business remotely from opposite ends of the country – Kelly in Donegal and Looney in Kerry.

Content Llama employs nine people in Ireland and ten contractors overseas, and has already closed a €500,000 funding round involving Enterprise Ireland.

Alongside Dawson and Nolan, other backers include John Mullen and Stephen Stilliard, who are both part of HBAN West by North West.

Now Content Llama is in the throes of a bigger €2 million funding round, a quarter of which is already being drawn down.

“We decided to do a pre-raise, because we knew we already had existing investors who would come on board again pretty quickly, so we could get cash flowing and start to recruit ahead of our US plans,” Kelly said.

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