Rob Curley, MD of Singlepoint talks to The Sunday Times about his intro to tech, the challenges along the way that led to the successful establishment of Singlepoint.
“I know how to win and deals with start-ups keep us up front.”
Read the transcript of this interview below.
Growing up across the road from Dublin’s Santry Stadium gave Rob Curley a great start. As a teenager he won several national medals and a sports scholarship to America. These days the only running he admits to is “around after my kids”.
He earned a degree in finance followed by an MBA, specialising in IT, from the University of Louisiana, and returned to take up a job with professional services firm Accenture. As part of his role, he was contracted to Vodafone and then Meteor as a technical architect, whereupon the idea for Singlepoint was born. “I realised there were opportunities to do business with companies such as these if you were giving them the right levels of service,” said Curley.
He set up the consultancy in 2009, a minnow up against his former employer and all the large professional services firms operating in Ireland. A competitive spirit helped. “Even when I was competing at schools level, I was told that I wasn’t the most natural runner but that I knew how to win,” he added.
Curley started the business with 15 people, and exceed €1m in turnover in his first year. The recession helped as clients were looking to reduce headcount by contracting in resources. Early success came when the company was selected to manage the Quinn Insurance online portal and integration project, which allowed all Quinn Insurance products to be available online. He hit a significant speed bump, however, when Quinn went into administration (in April 2010) and the programme wound down over a four-month period.
Determined never to put all his eggs in one basket again, he won five new clients, including Vodafone, Aon and Eircom. “We also brought on some start-ups as clients that have grown and become successful.” Working with start-ups is a strategic move. While the business may be less valuable financially, the work helps keep Singlepoint at the sharp edge of emerging technologies. “We do deals with start-ups specifically because, while they may have limited funds, working with them enables us to keep up to speed with newest technologies and that’s of real benefit to us.”
The company moved from its first office in the IFSC to a larger office in Dublin 1 in 2015. It opened a UK office 18 months ago, initially following clients in Ireland into the UK market and subsequently developing new business there. Singlepoint also invested €500,000 in its own development platform last year. It allows the company to design, build and rapidly deploy digital solutions using a set of proprietary tools that saves time – and therefore costs to clients.
“We’ve been doing the same thing over and again for years, so we wanted a way to standardise it”, said Curley. “We developed the platform for ourselves so that we could ramp up quickly, but when we showed it to clients they were interested, too. So we’ve licensed it to a number and we use it as a differentiator when pitching for business. We’re helping them reduce risk by standardising a lot of decisions that the client has to make.”
The business now employs 40 full-time staff and more that 200 contractors, with a turnover of in excess of €13m. He recently decided to raise the business’s profile, engaging a public relations consultant. “I can see now how PR helps – when you organise events people turn up because they’ve heard of you.”
Prior to this the business had grown almost entirely by referrals. To scale up requires a different approach. “I struggle with the profile-raising because I’m an introvert. But I can see how the marketing side fits into the business and that it works.”
As for any tech company looking for a scarce resource, finding good staff is another challenge. Again, its work with start-ups, and leading technology, give it an edge. “We know when we put offers out to candidates that they are not as attractive financially as some of our competitors, but that the technology we use set us apart.”
Flexibility is also key to Singlepoint’s success in attracting and retaining a good team. “The workplace has changed. People have very different requirements about how they wish to work now, whether it’s full-time or ad hoc work. We believe there ir room at the table for both. You’ve got to give people what they want.”
Sandra O’Connel. Sunday Times, 29th July 2018.
“If you would like to speak with Rob Curley or one of his team, please contact +353 (0) 1 562 0027 or firstname.lastname@example.org“