Sunday August 9, 2020

Telecoms firm Capstone ‘masters of own destiny’

Dublin-based telecoms company Capstone focuses on providing unified communications for contact centres in Ireland, Britain and the US

28th June, 2020
Fergus Kelly, managing director of Capstone: “A lot of our customers are saying that their strategy now is to move to the cloud.” Picture: Fergal Philips

In the 13 years since setting up Capstone, his Dublin-based telecoms company, Fergus Kelly has built a steady business with annual revenues of about €10 million and no outside investment.

“We’ve grown organically. We have no debt and there are no investors or third parties involved. It’s a nice place to be. We are the masters of our own destiny,” Kelly said.

Capstone specialises in unified communications for contact centres. In all, Kelly estimates that the company has about 260 customers in Ireland, Britain and the US. It employs 42 people at its Dublin headquarters and overseas offices in London, New Jersey and Florida.

Kelly co-founded Capstone in 2007 with Marcus Spillane, a New York-based accountant, and Pat Dunne, an engineer, who has since retired.

Having worked in sales for telecoms companies such as Sabio and Calyx, Kelly saw an opportunity for a new venture servicing the large-scale contact centres setting up in Ireland at the time.

“I could see that the money was in contact centres: in designing and implementing routing and reporting tools for them,” he said.

“We started in a small office in Sandyford and our intention was to target the multinationals setting up shared service centres in Ireland with this relentless focus on technical capability.”

The strategy paid off and, following early contract wins with clients including Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Cork and O2 Telefonica in Limerick, Capstone began to pick up work overseas.

“I’d love to tell you that we had this strategic vision of becoming an international business, but the reality is that we followed our noses,” Kelly said.

“When you’re working with international businesses, quite often the people you’re dealing directly with might have responsibility for operations in other countries as well. If they’re happy with you, they’ll put more work your way.”

Having built up a healthy cohort of clients in Britain, Capstone opened a London office in 2011. The company has since expanded into the US.

Its primary focus now is on unified communications: integrating tools such as VoIP (voice over internet protocol), instant messaging, video conferencing and data sharing on one platform.

“Since starting out, we’ve gone from expensive proprietary equipment on the client’s premises into what is a very software-driven environment. The focus now is very much on secure scalable cloud services,” Kelly said.

Capstone’s customers span banking and finance, insurance, law, hospitality and mobile communications.

“We support technology for our customers in about 43 countries around the world, so what we do is distributed globally,” Kelly said.

“When Covid-19 kicked in and there was this sudden mass migration to remote working, many companies were forced to make do with whatever they had, using Zoom and setting up ad-hoc video meetings to keep in touch with staff.

“A lot of our customers are saying that their strategy now is to move to the cloud. Traditional cap-ex spend is out the window. Companies need to be able to communicate very easily with workers anywhere in the world on their home devices.

“They want to be able to scale up or down. For us, it’s no different to what we’re already doing: moving them from a pile of proprietary hardware with loads of wires to a software-driven environment.”

Capstone employs 42 people and is a client company of Enterprise Ireland, the state agency.

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