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.
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Other interviews in the series: