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 Daniel Evans & Ed Kniep of GarbShare


Daniel Evans & Ed Kniep co-founders of GarbShare

When was Garbshare founded? Do you have any co-founders?
GarbShare was founded in 2015 by myself Daniel Evans with my co-founder Ed Kniep.

What does Garbshare do and who is your typical customer?
Few things allow you to express yourself, give you the freedom to define and redefine who you are more than what hangs in your closet. Yet few things are more frustrating that staring at a closet that has everything except something to wear. GarbShare aims to remove that frustration. We’re applying the lessons of inventory management, data and analytics on a micro level to help consumers take control of their personal style.

Our primary markets are (1) the “”emerging fashionista”” – skews female, 18-34, in-college or college graduate, household income likely to be more than 100k (now or in future), suburban to urban; (2) the “”stylish organizer”” – skews female, 25-44, some college or college graduate, household income likely less than 100k, suburban.

Where are you located and how many people work there?
DP: St. Louis, Missouri, USA. We currently have 6 employees

How are you funded and how does Garbshare make money?
We raised a seed round of $400,000 in March or 2015. We are currently raising an angel round to fund growth and R&D. We make money by aggregating user data and providing a variety of trend and market research to retailers and manufacturers. We will be turning on e-commerce within the app in the fall of 2016 – allowing users to “”shop their friends closets”” and a personalized “”wish list”” based on our proprietary scoring system (GarbFit).

Have you ever been close to failure?
In any startup, failure is close. The odds are not exactly in your favor, but thankfully, we haven’t had to stare down the end of the runway just yet.
We have yet to cross a truly difficult bridge.  We have been lucky.

What’s the biggest challenge Garbshare faces today?
We can deliver an amazing amount of functionality and insights that really empower consumers – if they take the time to build their closet and interact within the app. It’s a learning tool that delivers better insights with every data point, but users have to put in the effort to get the reward. We make it as easy as possible, but it’s a change to how people currently behave. That’s our biggest challenge. Like any startup, we also need to put a huge amount of effort behind funding.

What is your background? how did you get your start and what brought you to a life in business/startups?
DP: “I’m a creative problem-solver by nature.  I started my career in UI/UX design, learned to code to ensure my designs were implemented – and users had a great experience. My career evolved into product development and eventually product management where I really found my passion for building products. When I ran into a problem with my daughter never having anything in her closet, it exposed this need in the market. I’ve been working on Garbshare since.

Sidenote: I’ve always been fascinated with the startup world. I’ve funded a few and consulted with several. It was always on my radar – if the right product or opportunity came along. This was it. ”

EK: “I went into sales out of college, realized that was not for me, went back to school for my MBA then went to work for our “”family”” business.  I started a waste hauling company on the side, loved the start up space and proceeded to leave my position as CEO of Shaughnessy to work with startups”

What gets you up in the morning? and what keeps you up at night?DP: “I love creating things from scratch – seeing an idea come to life. Every morning is another chance to see it grow, to build on that idea, to create a business.

What keeps me up at night is the trust my employees and our investors have placed in me and the responsibility to make sure they have jobs and we keep getting better – every day. I also tend to spend a lot of late nights reviewing new functionality, making sure designs and the user experience is right. ”

EK: I see most businesses as fairly similar.  Top line, bottom line and a lot of effort to make those a big deal.  I like the people/culture/alignment side of business.  A few good people with alignment and vision can do amazing things.  I like being a part of that.

What is your best character trait? what is your worst character trait?DP: Creativity or Optimism. I generally see things in terms of solutions and possibilities. Perfectionism is likely my worst. I constantly remind myself that “done is better than perfect”, but it’s a struggle sometimes.

 EK: Integrity would be my best.  Patience would be my worst.

Are you striking a work / life balance? If so, what’s your secret?
DP: I could probably be better about it, but I love what I do. If I’m not spending time with my children or have specific plans, I generally spend my time on work or researching/planning for the business.

EK: I chose to leave the family business and redefine what work meant to me.  I want to live through the process more and check boxes less.  It’s not always easy but it’s profound when it’s happening.

When things are going crazy, how do you unwind?
DP: Golf or sand volleyball. Both allow me to completely unplug and just breathe.

EK: Not well.  Stress can get me tied up but choosing to walk away, knowing it will be there tomorrow, is usually my best route.  I’m a big proponent of people using their vacations and staying away from getting frayed. I have to work on that a little for myself.

What’s the last book or movie you’ve read/seen?
DP: “I just finished Ben Horowitz’s “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” and I’m reading “Traction” by Justin Mares, Gabriel Weinberg. My son and I see most of the super hero / scifi movies as they come out. “”Star Wars”” was our last over the holidays. ”

EK: Book – The Twenty Seventh City, movie – The Revenant

What’s your favourite gadget and why?
DP: I do love my iPhone. I love being able to stay in the loop no matter where I am. We just recently went to Poland and Dublin and without it, I would have been lost.

EK: Definitely my smartphone, it’s just so easy when on the road to get so much done and stay connected with everyone back at the office

What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you created your business/startup?
DP: How difficult it would be to find good creative talent. There are a lot of designers in the world, but there are very few who can take complex requirements and deliver something simple and elegant. If you have good UX/UI people – train them, inspire them, help them improve – they are rare.

 EK: It’s funny to me….it’s all out the to learn.  Someone else has gone through all the struggles at some point but we still have to learn some things on our own.  I guess if someone could have made me believe that, that would be my answer

So what’s next for GarbShare?
We’re currently in beta with a few hundred users. We have been collecting feedback and iterating for the last month. We should wrap that process up and be ready to come out of beta toward the end of March.

We are currently working on raising an angel round to support our growth and further R&D. We hope to close that round by mid-March and spend the Spring and early Summer focused on growth.

We plan to release our personalized shopping functionality in September in time for the 2016 holiday season.

#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: