Meet Kevin McCaffrey founder of Tr3dent, helping you visualise your business in a whole new way

Pictured (18-01-16) is Kevin McCaffrey founder of TR3Dent. Pic. Michael Dillon

Pictured (18-01-16) is Kevin McCaffrey founder of TR3Dent. Pic. Michael Dillon

So tell me a little about Tr3dent, when was it founded?, do you have any co-founders? how did you get the idea?
I founded Tr3dent back in October of 2014, so It’s been on the go for about 18 months or so now. No co-founders, just myself. Its an interesting story how the idea actually came about, I was managing a large Enterprise Software Programme, and attended a critical meeting between Senior Business Execs and technical managers where the new technical architecture was presented for approval to Business and once the technical slide was shown the entire business audience lost interest and became unfocused – this ultimately caused delays, confusion and miscommunication. When I went home my son was playing on his Xbox and I thought “why does business data have to be so boring and gaming environments so engaging and cool?”.

Users are immersed in a natural 3D environment to unlock unique insights and make better business decisions based on a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex processes, relationships and data within IoT Ecosystems such as Smart Cities, Smart Homes, eHealth etc.

Where are you located and how many people work at Tr3dent?
At the moment we are located in the GMIT Innovation Hub and we are currently a team of 5, two of whom are still studying; one completing his Masters at NUIG and the other completing Computer Science at GMIT . The Innovation Hub is a great place for any Startup to be based. It’s always nice to be surrounded with like-minded people who are essentially going through the thing as you are, and the support provided by the iHUB is outstanding.

How were you originally funded and how are you funded now?Originally, the business was self-funded by myself. More recently, the company has been back by Enterprise Ireland and we are now CSF funded. Currently, we are also talking to some private angel investors which is pretty exciting.

Were you ever close to failure? How close? How did you recover?
I can’t honestly say I was ever very close to failure, I set very specific goals and milestones and when any of these are not achieved we adjust the plan to make sure that the next set of goals are met. We’ve been on the go now for about 15 to 16 months and it’s been an incremental process thus far. I think as a startup you face challenges on a daily basis and you certainly have your good and bad days, but I guess challenges and overcoming obstacles are all part of the buzz of being a startup.  I don’t like surprises so I am constantly thinking ahead about issues or challenges that we be faced with whether they are financial or technical.  I then work through the various ways of mitigating or avoiding these challenges before they actually occur.

What’s are biggest challenges you faces today?
I think challenges are part and parcel of starting a company in the first place and everybody could probably give you a different answer. For myself, I would have to say the biggest challenge is getting your first customer, this is key validation for your product.  It is also is a crucial milestone to achieve when you start discussions with investors. The next large challenge we are faced with is scaling and growing the business, this will require a very different mindset, new team members and external financing.

What is your background? How did you get your start and what brought you to a life in business/startups?
Where to start, I went to GMIT and did Business there and I then emigrated to Canada.I have over 20+ years in the ICT sector delivering enterprise solutions globally working in the US, Europe and Africa as well as Canada.  I returned to Ireland in late 2014 from Cape Town, South Africa where I lived for nine years and had built a successful consulting and software development company.  Prior to that I had been in Canada for 13 years where I worked for Reuters and then was a co-owner of a Software Development and Training company in Toronto. For Tr3Dent, as I said previously, I spotted a gap when I noticed that the quantity of data that we deal with was growing vastly and people’s ability to interpret it wasn’t, so visualising your data in a more consumable way was something that people needed, and looking at it in 3D was the answer to that.

What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you up at night?Interesting question. What gets me up in the morning is to eventually be the Enterprise and SME market leader in 3D data visualisation.

What is your best character and worst character trait?
My leadership and communications skills are very strong but on the negative side I am also a perfectionist which does mean that I set very high standards for everyone who works with me.

Are you striking a work / life balance? If so, what’s your secret?
It’s not easy to get the balance right all of the time, and how you achieve this will change as your kids grow older.  Today I start work early, am usually in the office by 6.30am and leave at 5pm so that I can spend 2 or 3 quality hours with the family over dinner.  I usually then spend another couple of hours on emails before bed.  My family also has the priority on the weekend so I fit my work around their schedule.

When things are going crazy, how do you unwind?
I’m a big Rugby fan, I like to go so see Connacht and Ireland whenever I can. I’m also one of a few West Brom supporters so I keep up to date with how they are doing. Other than that, I do a bit of cycling and like like a good book at the weekends. And of course a good pint always helps.

What’s your favourite gadget and why?
Without doubt, the Microsoft Hololens. I think augmented reality is just so cool and will play a big part in the way we live our lives in a few years time. It was announced just a few days ago that the Hololens is now available for pre-order so we’ll see if we can get our hands on one at some stage. We definitely see it have potential uses to visualise data. Could you imagine being fully immersed within your data? Think of how different your data would look and all the vital information that it would highlight.

What’s the most played song in your iTunes / Spotify playlist?
Brewing up a Storm by The Stunning.

What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you created your Tr3dent?
I think it would be not to wait for the product or idea to be perfect in your head before you act on it. It’s very important to get a just an MVP out there and test the water. Waiting for the idea or product to be perfect in your head doesn’t really get the ball rolling. You can always get an MVP out there and pivot as you go along and that usually lends itself to more creativity and being more tailored to what the customer wants and needs.

So what’s next for Tr3dent?
We have big plans made for 2016. In the early part of next year we will hire more developers, with the expansion of the team I think it is inevitable that bigger premises will definitely be in the pipeline as well. Without giving away too much, we are currently in talks with several recognisable global brands that want to make visualising their data much more efficient and user-friendly, it’s exciting times around the office at the moment.

#FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders that I meet on my travels, have worked with in the past or simply find what they do interesting. These posts do not represent the views of any employer or any business that I am affiliated with.

I hope you enjoy them! Want to be featured?

Other interviews in the series:

Meet Mark Cummins, Co-Founder at Pointy

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The Pointy POS barcode scanning device in action

 #FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders 

Co-Founders Mark Cummins and Charles Bibby of Pointy.com

I recently caught up again with Mark Cummins, Co-Founder at Pointy, an Irish hardware startup that he co-founded with Charles Bibby in 2014, which is helping retailers to win back the high street. 

Previously I’d visited the team back in August 2015 at their Dublin office find out more about what they were up to and discuss an innovation project I was working on at the time.

Founded in 2014 and already over 500 retailers around Ireland like Donnybrook Bikes below are using the Pointy device to auto generate search engine friendly web pages for over 500,000 unique products with a view to ultimately driving more in store sales for them. In effect Pointy is helping to take back the high street for retail.

NOG: What is the name of your startup, what year was it founded? do you have any co-founders? how did you get the idea?
MC: Pointy, founded 2014. Co-founder Charles Bibby. The idea came from a very ordinary experience – I was drinking some craft beer at a party. I really liked it, but after the party I had trouble finding it in shops. It was definitely available somewhere locally, but I never found it. It seemed so strange that I could search the entire internet in half a second, but it was a struggle to find something in my local shops. The process hadn’t really changed that much from fifty or a hundred years ago.

NOG: This isn’t your first foray into entrepreneurship, what was your previous startup and what happened to it?
MC: That’s correct Niall, the previous startup that I was involved in was Plink. Plink became Google’s first UK acquisition in April 2010. Our visual search engine technology allowed users to simply take a picture of something in order to find out more about it. Our first product, PlinkArt, recognized famous paintings and was a winner of the ADC2 and a featured app on the Android market.

Video: Oxford Entrepreneurs Google Success – Plink Art Interview

NOG: Where is your startup located and how many people work there?MC: We’re based in Dublin, Ireland. We’re 7 people full-time, plus a few additional part time.

NOG: How was your startup originally funded, how are you funded now and how does your startup make money?
MC: We initially worked on the idea unpaid until we had a working demo. We then raised a seed round of $1.2M from some well know angel investors and VC funds. Our revenue comes from a small monthly fee we charge to shops on the system. There are some additional things in pipeline.

NOG: Were you ever close to failure? how close? how did you recover?
MC: I failed my driving test quite a few times :-). But in professional life there’s never been anything really close to failure so far. Perhaps after Pointy I’ll have some stories of hair-raising moments to tell.

NOG: What’s the biggest challenge your startup/business faces today?
MC: Reaching small retailers. Our product has proven very popular with retailers once they learn about it, but reaching small retailers at scale is a hard thing to do. There’s no real shortcuts, just a lot of different channels and lots of hard work.

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Looking for Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tanning Mouse in Kill? No problem Allcare Pharmacy has you covered. (Allegedly the lads at Pointy buy it by the case)

NOG: What is your background? how did you get your start and what brought you to a life in business/startups?
MC: I studied Engineering and Computer Science at Oxford, and then went on to do a PhD in robotics and computer vision (as did my co-founder Charles). After Oxford I started a previous company (Plink) which Google acquired in 2010. I then spent three years at Google before leaving to start Pointy. I’m actually a little surprised to find myself founding start-ups, it’s not something I ever thought about growing up.

NOG: What gets you up in the morning? and what keeps you up at night?
MC: Honestly, the thing that actually gets me up in the morning is curiosity about what’s happened in the world overnight – normally in the form of checking our dashboards, emails, etc. At night, I often lie awake for an hour or more thinking about what to do next – it’s something I’ve done all my life. So, I guess the answer is: everything.

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NOG: What is your best character trait? what is your worst character trait?
MC: I like playing with ideas and questioning things – if you question enough things sometimes you have an idea for something new and interesting. On the other side, I sometimes over-research and read a lot of background material on things, when a bit of direct trial-and-error or even just focused thought might get me there quicker.

NOG: Are you striking a work / life balance? If so, what’s your secret?
MC: It can be long hours during the week, but I always take the weekends off. That works for me.

NOG: When things are going crazy, how do you unwind?
MC: Cycling in the Wicklow mountains.

Picture taken by Mark while out cycling in Co. Wicklow, Ireland

NOG: You reference Donnybrook bikes on your site, have you ever used Pointy yourself to find and buy parts there yourself?
MC:
Yes, have got plenty of small bits and pieces off Donnybrook Bikes, the guys are great and have a great selection – last thing I think was a new Bontrager bottle cage.
NOG: Ok I just checked on Pointy and they are showing in stock, thats cool!

Bontrager RL Cage (Black) available at Donnybrook Bikes

NOG: 
What’s the last book or movie that you’ve read or seen?
MC: Last movie was Star Wars, in common with half the world! Last book was The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi.

NOG: What’s the most played song in your itunes or spotify playlist?
MC: Bonxie by Stornoway

NOG: What’s your favourite gadget and why?
MC: 
I use a projector at home instead of a screen. I love it.

NOG: What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you created your business/startup?
MC: One of the trickiest things was where to draw the line between business and non-business life. e.g. Friends and family who wanted to invest and/or work in the business, etc. I think we mostly got it right, but more by luck than judgement.

Pointy being interviewed by the folks over at IrishStartup.TV back in July 2015

NOG: So what’s next for Pointy?
MC: We’re just about to launch in a new country, which is very exciting!

NOG: What question would you like me to ask the next founder?
MC: I’d be interested to know how much of their time people spend the different aspects of the job – e.g. working on product, hiring, raising money, sales, media, etc.

NOG: How would you answer your own question? 🙂
MC: Nicely done! The majority of my time is on product – quite a lot of actual coding. There’s also a lot of time on high level decision making – which features should we prioritise, which city should we launch in next, etc. The other major part of it is establishing and maintaining relationships with investors, keys partners, etc. There are periods of a month or more when fund raising is 100% of my time. Hiring is also a big one which happens in short bursts.

NOG: Well Mark, that’s it. Congratulations on the recent funding announcement, continued success in helping retail to take back the high street. by helping them gain traction online in order to drive sales offline in store.
MC: Thanks Niall, really enjoyed the chat.

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Are you an Irish retailer wanting to learn more about Pointy and the opportunity to join them on their mission to help win back the high street for retail? then click here

#FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders that I meet on my travels, have worked with in the past or simply find what they do interesting. These posts do not represent the views of any employer or any business that I am affiliated with.

I hope you enjoy them! Want to be featured?

Other interviews in the series:

Meet Rory O’Connor Founder & CEO of Scurri

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Rory O’Connor Founder of Scurri

 #FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders

I recently caught up with Rory O’Connor, Founder and CEO of Scurri, an Irish startup founded in 2010 which specialises in delivery management for  online merchants. 

HQ’d in Wexford town in Ireland they have 23 people employed. Their platform is used by multi-channel merchants, such as Zara, ASOS, MissGuided to improve their customer delivery propositions via delivery partners like Royal Mail, UPS, Hermes, TNT, DHL, Yodel, DPD and more.

Rory is an entrepreneur who likes to create and build things that make a difference. With @Scurri he’s using technology to make eCommerce delivery awesome for everyone! Loves the outdoors, surfing, triathlon and hillwalking. Lives in Wexford, Ireland.

NOG: What is the name of your business/startup, what year was it founded? do you have any co-founders? how did you get the idea?
ROC: The business name is Scurri, it was founded at the end of 2010, I am a lone founder and the business idea emerged from a slightly different business model that wast the original idea for the company.

NOG: What does your business/startup do? who is your typical customer?
ROC: Scurri removes the friction from managing deliveries for eCommerce Merchants, our typical customers are eCommerce merchants selling physical goods online who want to give their customers the best delivery experience possible.

NOG: Where is your startup located and how many people work there?
ROC: We are HQ’d in Wexford town in Ireland where we have 23 people employed today but entering an expansion phase now which is great.

Better together: start-ups and sponsorship by Adam Pescod @elitebizmag

NOG: How was your startup/business originally funded, how are you funded now and how does your startup/business make money?
ROC: I put up the initial capital to get us going, an ex-colleague soon joined me on the adventure and then we raised investment from a number of angels and a small amount of funding from enterprise Ireland. We then raised funds from VC’s as we got more traction.

NOG: Were you ever close to failure? how close? how did you recover?
ROC: Yes many times, on a couple of occasions we had a few days cash in the bank. Persistence and flexibility with a bit of luck thrown in is key.

NOG: What’s the biggest challenge your startup/business faces today?
ROC: One of the key challenges is finding talent, particularly engineering talent.

Image: Ireland’s entrepreneurial counties and the key challenges for Irish entrepreneurs

NOG: What is your background? how did you get your start and what brought you to a life in business/startups?
ROC: I originally worked in Waterford Crystal when I got a great grounding in business, marketing and sales. I also broadened my education there. I didn’t realise it for a while but I think I always destined to run my own business. I worked as a freelance consultant for a while but I really wanted to create something too.

NOG: What gets you up in the morning? and what keeps you up at night?
ROC: The excitement of what the day will bring gets me up and by the time the day is done (late at night) I sleep soundly.

Image: For the last sixteen years, Rory has been inshore helm for the local RNLI lifeboat (Fethard-on-Sea), ready to save lives at sea at any time in any weather condition.

NOG: What is your best character trait? what is your worst character trait?ROC: My best trait is I am persistent and willing to put the miles in, my worst trait is I can be impatient and unreasonable (don’t take no for an answer)

NOG: 
Are you striking a work / life balance? If so, what’s your secret?
ROC: I don’t see the difference between work and life, I don’t see what I do as a job and I think that is the secret.

NOG: The latest Scurri marketing features Lego, so what’s your figure look like?
ROC: 
Why simple it’s ‘President Business’ of course!

NOG: When things are going crazy, how do you unwind?
ROC: Do a bit more, nothing like the feeling of completing something.

Image: Rory competing in challenge Barcelona 2010

NOG: What’s the last book or movie you’ve read/seen?
ROC: The last book was Venture Deals and the last movie was the new Star wars.

Image: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

NOG: What’s the most played song in your itunes / spotify playlist?
ROC: AC/DC Thunderstruck – my kids love it too!
NOG: We must be of a similar vintage, that’s one of my favourites also!

NOG: What’s your favourite gadget and why?
ROC: My iPhone, what can it not do?

NOG: What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you created your business/startup?
ROC: A lot more about finance, it’s so important.

NOG: So what’s next for Scurri?
ROC: International expansion

NOG: Thank you for taking the time today Rory, congratulations on the progress and best of luck with the expansion plans in 2016 and beyond
ROC: Thank you Niall, it’s been my pleasure.

#FounderStories simply a series of conversations with founders that I meet on my travels, have worked with in the past or simply find what they do interesting. These posts do not represent the views of any employer or any business that I am affiliated with.

I hope you enjoy them!

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.