Case study: Voxpro
With its multi-coloured furniture, quirky pod meeting rooms and garden allotments, Voxpro bears all the hallmarks of a classic Silicon Valley start-up.
But instead this is Cork where husband and wife Dan and Linda Kiely first founded the Irish outsourcing specialist in 2002. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength, building a global operation in response to client needs.
Managing Director Aidan O’Shea (pictured) says the company does not particularly focus on any one sector, although given the environment of its head office it comes as little surprise that it deals with a lot of technology companies, borne out of its long-standing relationship with Google.
Voxpro originally sold pagers to Google staff, and today sells a range of enterprise solutions for Google for Work.
Says O’Shea: “I personally have been here a couple of years and was really attracted to the fact that the business had a global view and especially that Google was one of the company’s main clients. I could see the potential of using that as a calling card to attract new business.”
He says that Voxpro is not competing with the large outsourcers and this plays to the company’s advantage. “Global brands like Google need their partners to be flexible, nimble and entrepreneurial, which is precisely in our DNA.”
Fintech could also be a strong sector for Voxpro. “Companies in the sector are young and disruptive and like what we do.”
Another major partner is the fast-growing online accommodation provider Airbnb. O’Shea insists it is not just about “sorting out problems” for their partner. “We are the first touch point with the consumer and provide a range of customer management services while also covering areas such as risk analysis, fraud protection, and household verification services. Consumers need to trust that the service they are getting is going to be the best.”
He says Airbnb simply wouldn’t have been able to grow as fast as it has without such support. “When the company first came to us their business was rolling out across Europe and they had a simple choice. They had to ask themselves: ‘Is this our area of expertise or shall we outsource it to someone else?’ Ultimately the company is an experience business, a travel business. It is not in the business of doing the kinds of things that we do. The company is scaling globally and very quickly and doesn’t have the time, resources and knowledge to set up these operations by itself. It has to focus on its core business and managing its partners effectively.”
The US remains a big focus for Voxpro which now has three offices there having just opened its latest base in Georgia. “It is probably a bigger opportunity for us than Europe,” adds O’Shea. “We serve a lot of US companies moving to Europe which are scaling up fast. We are good at what we do and clients like what we do, so word spreads and people get to hear about us. We have a very good reputation over there. Going to the US was a big jump for us, but it was a well calculated jump.”
There are also plans to venture into South America, while additional offices across Europe are in the pipeline. “The challenge for us is the sheer number of opportunities that we have and working out which to go for,” admits O’Shea.
Such expansion will inevitably require new financing and he is open-minded on the options. A flotation has previously been mooted, but a private equity deal could come first. “We have aggressive growth plans which will require financing so private equity is an obvious consideration for us,” he adds.