E-procurement firm Bgate Holdings has recently come into its own, securing deals with a number of large firms.
Simon Lunt, co-founder and chief executive of Bgate, said that the firm's online ordering system had become more attractive to companies as the economic downturn put costs under the spotlight, and internet access improved.
He described the firm's technology as a tool to tackle "the communication gap'' between buyers and suppliers of goods and services who do business with each other on a regular basis.
"Bgate offers an online ordercapture and invoicing service which connects buyers' accounting software with suppliers' logistics systems," said Lunt, who is a veteran of online businesses. The firm helps to increase customers' productivity levels by cutting out the time-consuming gathering and inputting of data.
"For both buyers and sellers, it significantly reduces the chance of errors, and also simplifies the data analysis process," said Lunt. The firm has processed more than 70,000 orders worth more than €50 million since its inception. It provides e-procurement for many household names, including Burger King, Eddie Rockets, Omniplex Cinemas, Allied Foods, Johnston Mooney & O'Brien, Dawn Meats and BWG. Bgate has a turnover of about €100,000, but expects that figure to treble in the coming financial year. Lunt said that the demand for cost-saving services had increased significantly because of the poor economic climate.
"There is also better internet access through technologies like 3G and wi-fi," he said.
"Couple this with the explosion of access devices, such as iPhones and netbooks, and the barriers for firms doing business online have disappeared."
Lunt grew up in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, where he attended the local technical college. After graduating with a degree in industrial design from the National College of Art and Design and the University of Limerick, he went to work for design firm Hood Associates.
"I learned to master the new world of computer-aided design, and helped to design consumer devices for global companies such as Nokia," said Lunt. After three years at Hood Associates, he went to work for CBT Systems, the Irish e-learning firm that later became Smart Force. He also worked as a graphic and multimedia designer, before helping to found Riverdeep, the educational software company, in 1996.
He worked there for three years and left to pursue other interests shortly before Riverdeep completed its stock market listing. "I have tried to adopt much of the design ethos from my Riverdeep experience to suit Bgate, specifically with regard to usability," said Lunt.
"Bgate can work in any jurisdiction and in any industry. It is inevitable that, someday, all business will be done this way. If we do this right, then hopefully Bgate will become the de facto standard for businessto-business transactions," he said.
The firm is sourcing overseas partners and is "some way down the line'' with re-sellers in Britain, America, Australia, the Middle East, and Brazil.
"We employ six staff across design, sales, marketing and logistics but, given the anticipated growth, we would envisage that we would have about 20 employees by this time next year."
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