Making it Work

Kwayga has bags of potential to conquer British supermarket supply sector

Irish tech start up allows buying teams and suppliers to upload details of products they either need or can supply

Mike McGrath and Martin Fitzgerald Kwayga: ‘Ireland and the UK are very closely connected when it comes to goods supply and demand’. Picture: John Allen

Irish tech start up Kwayga is setting out to conquer the British supermarket supply sector with its matching platform that connects buyers with suppliers.

Kwayga offers a platform where supermarket buying teams and suppliers can upload details of the products they either need or can supply, therefore reducing the time it takes to source products.

Founded by: Mike McGrath and Martin Fitzgerald in 2021

Staff: 9

Turnover: €200,000

Both parties can give exact product specification of what is either in demand or on offer.

Since its establishment in 2021, the company has already garnered 100,000 registered suppliers and supermarkets as platform users.

“We have suppliers from all over Europe already using Kwayga,” said Mike McGrath co-founder and chief executive.

“At the moment the platform is exclusively for Irish supermarket’s buying teams, but our next target will be the UK market and we hope to establish ourselves there in the coming year.”

The platform has its origins in Brexit. McGrath, who had already worked with business-to-business (B2B) buyers for 15 years, had to face changing customs taxation regulations for goods going across the UK borders.

“Ireland and the UK are very closely connected when it comes to goods supply and demand,” said McGrath. “Both are heavily depending on European supply chains for example.”

After realising there was no platform that could help streamline the increasingly complicated sourcing process, McGrath and his friend Martin Fitzgerald, a former banker in business, corporate and retail banking, decided to develop their own sourcing tool.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, we both had more time and we saw that similar solutions already existed in other sectors,” said McGrath. “With the technology already in place, we adapted it to our needs.”

Their platform is based around an algorithm that matches and analyses the information of its users. The due diligence process is also automated.

McGrath and Fitzgerald grew the Cork-based company in its first two years to a staff of nine members and a yearly turnover of €200,000. Since the start, Kwayga has been a member of Enterprise Ireland.

“We got fast tracked into the high potential start-up programme”, McGrath said.

In this programme, only companies who are expected to have at least 10 employees and €1 million in sales within three years, are allowed.

In September this year, McGrath and Fitzgerald were also able to secure a €1 million funding from the Redesdale Food and Beverage Fund. The €75 million fund was established to provide seed an early stage capital to Irish food entrepreneurs.

The expansion over to the UK is the next logical step for Kwayga, McGrath said.

“With most Irish supermarkets having their main offices in the UK, the contacts are already established,” said McGrath. “The UK also needs the biggest help right now with their supply chains, that’s why we hope to be able to work with all UK supermarkets soon.”

Kwayga also aims to double its staff in 2024, McGrath added.

After the UK expansion, Kwayga wants to expand its footprint into European mainland and even has eyes on a global market.

Supermarkets in Scandinavia and Malta are already on a trial basis in the system, McGrath said.

“When we manage to build up our network over the whole European continent, our database will become attractive for the North-American, or Middle Eastern market as well.”