DRIVING ON TruckScience's Sorcha O'Grady and Jens Hellberg at the Google Adopt a Startup 2016 Spring Programme, with Olga Golub and Marc Rebenaque. Pic: Shane O'Neill Photography
The New Frontiers Programme at GMIT’s iHub in Castlebar was a major help to TruckScience
SORCHA O’Grady and Jens Hellberg are the people behind TruckScience, a company creating simplified software for the transport industry worldwide.
Based in Cedar Park, in Westport, the company had its origins out of a home office in Tonranny in 2011, when it was just the brainchild of the married duo.
With Jens’ background in trucks in his native South Africa and his and Sorcha’s expertise in software development, the couple created ‘TruckScience’.
With 18 million trucks sold worldwide per year, industry professionals are always looking for cost savings and so TruckScience was created.
One of the company’s software systems allows truck designers to use its Axle Weight Calculator to help build truck bodies, to help sales people sell trucks based on their clients’ needs, ensuring that purchases are cost effective by working out how to optimise payload within legal limits. There also offer other industry-related products.
Today, TruckScience employs four full time staff at its Westport office and Sorcha and Jens cite various enterprise initiatives in helping them bring their business from concept to fruition, in particular their time in the Innovation Hub (iHub), a business and entrepreneur incubation centre at GMIT in Castlebar.
After getting LEADER funding for market launch and office set up, the couple entered the New Frontiers Programme at the Innovation Hub, which involved weekly mentoring to develop their business further. As a result of this programme the company’s products were streamlined down to three.
“The programme, facilitated at the Innovation Hub at GMIT Mayo, gave us €15,000 to allow us to work on our own business. There’s a nice startup community, a nice feeling that we’re all in it together,” said Sorcha.
The most positive aspects of the iHub for TruckScience was having constant support from entrepreneurs and others striving to launch their business and also having a professional address to work from, along with training facilities and boardrooms.
“There was such a brilliant community in there. You’d meet someone at the kettle and that’s you networking and Maria Staunton (manager at the iHub) was always looking for ways to help.”
The entrepreneur in residence was Brian Reynolds, a retired Microsoft executive who freely gave of his expertise to Sorcha, Jens and all the other business owners in the programme.
“We were stuck in a room in Tonranny and it was only when we got to the iHub we were aware of what was going on and hearing about programmes we could benefit from.”
Sorcha and Jens would attend a networking event each month at the iHub and meet marketing experts and learned about current legislation that related to their business.
TruckScience was subsequently successful in the Spirit of Entrepreneurship event, by the iHub, which saw them get a chance to pitch and exhibit their business to successful entrepreneurs.
“In the longer term, the vision is for TruckScience to be synonymous with professional software for the trucking industry worldwide. In the short term, TruckScience is hoping to raise investment to match a second tranche of investment from Enterprise Ireland.” said Sorcha.
TruckScience now sells its software to 19 countries and growing, including Canada, Australia, Vietnam, UAE and Angola.
According to Sorcha, TruckScience received a helping hand every step of the way in terms of advice, funding and from programmes like New Frontiers at the iHub.
“When I think of it now we didn’t have a clue about marketing, we didn’t have a marketing strategy. We didn’t have any awareness of the supports available out there but once we started we realised there was an eco-system of support, every organisation puts you in touch with another one and you continue to reap the benefits.”
MORE The Innovation Hub (iHub) at GMIT Mayo celebrates its tenth year in 2016. In the last decade its client companies have created 192 full-time and 51 part-time jobs and raised €19.7 million of funding with nine high potential start-up companies created. Keep an eye out for a series of special articles on the iHub in the coming months.