Saturday October 24, 2020

Making It Work: Start-up adapts its staff car-park app to allocate desk space

Ronspot has closed a €650,000 seed fund as it updates its product to help managers handle the logistics for flexible working

27th September, 2020
Michael Furey, chief executive at Ronspot, said the company would use its new funding for sales and marketing. Picture: Andrew Downes, Xposure

A newly-closed €650,000 seed fund will allow Ronspot to ramp up commercial activity in Ireland and other markets in the months ahead.

The tech start-up has developed a simple app that helps companies to manage staff parking on-site. Now, in response to the impact of Covid-19, the Galway company is developing new add-ons for the app to help facility managers handle the logistics of flexible working.

Michael Furey, chief executive at Ronspot, said the company would use the funding from Enterprise Ireland, the state agency, and private investors in the Halo Business Angel Network, primarily for sales and marketing.

“We’ve really only just started to move out of our start-up phase and into growth. We’re in the process of developing our strategic route to market now,” Furey said.

“It will include online, search and partnerships with strategic players already in our space. We want to hire native speakers in some of our target markets, like Spain, France and Germany, to handle direct sales.”

Furey runs Ronspot with Brendan McLaughlin, the company’s co-founder and director. They employ ten people in Galway city working alongside an outsourced software development team in Vadodara in western India.

The company has 16 clients, some with multiple sites, including Sodexo, CBRE, Cardinal Health and SSE Airtricity.

Furey recently launched a new add-on to the Ronspot app that allows employers to allocate desk space safely to staff members who want to return to full or part-time work on-site.

“No company is forcing their staff to come back to work on their premises if they don’t have to, but some people want to,” Furey said.

“That’s creating problems around social distancing in the workplace, especially where space is limited and desks are close together.

“Our desk management add-on can be used to limit the number of people coming into the building, control where people sit and let cleaners know which desks have been used and need a deep-clean.”

Adding the desk management tool to the Ronspot app has opened up new possibilities for the company, Furey said.

“What we’re seeing is potential to move into the wider facility management area,” Furey said.

“There will be a lot of change arising out of the pandemic and that won’t just be about parking spaces and desks. It will be about booking meeting rooms, for example, and managing the equipment employees might need to take out of the workplace so they can work from home.

“There will be the logistics of managing staff working flexibly in and outside the office on different rotas and arrangements and all the safety protocol that goes with that.”

Before setting up Ronspot in 2018, Furey, who is a software developer, ran another technology company in Galway called Eirnet. It developed highly specialised search software for Political Wizard, a British company which monitored proceedings at Westminster for clients with political interests.

Furey sold Eirnet to Dods Parliamentary Communications, a subsidiary of the British publishing and media group Huveaux, in 2006, netting £3.2 million in the sale.

“With Eirnet, there was a definite need there at that time for the type of software we were producing. It was easy to get talking to customers,” Furey said.

“After I sold Eirnet, I tried my hand at a few other business ideas that didn’t take off. What I realised was that, if you have something the market wants, it’s so much easier to get the conversation started with customers.

“To get a start-up off the ground, you really have to ruthlessly follow what the market needs, not what you think it needs. It’s the difference between a headwind and a tailwind.”

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