GetitKeepit.com was featured in the Sunday Business Post.
28 February 2010 By Samantha McCaughren, Business Correspondent
” More than two million Irish people bank online, but only 10,000 to 20,000 customers of utility providers opt for online billing. Ireland’s poor take-up of paperless billing prompted entrepreneur Alan Coleman to develop a website that allows consumers to manage all bills online. After four years of work, GetitKeepit.com launches in Ireland tomorrow.
It is now raising €750,000 in funds and expects to complete this in the next six to eight weeks.
Coleman said he had hoped to get the company developed as far as possible without having to seek funding.
‘‘We’re right in the middle of our first round of financing and we are working with Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors and VC funds. It’s looking promising,” he said.
‘‘Typically, your first funding round is a seed round where you’re actually building your product, proving your concept, getting your first customer. We’ve built our product and got our first customer, so we’ve almost skipped a stage,” he added.
Coleman and business partner Jim Hannan left high-powered jobs to go full time with the business. For the last seven years, Coleman ran a European sales team for Accenture, driving a business with revenues of €100 million. Before that he worked in business development at software company Macalla. Hannan is the former chief technical architect for RTE.
‘‘We both felt the opportunity for this business was strong and we took a decision to leave our comfortable jobs,” said Coleman.
The website will allow consumers to gather, manage and analyse all their utility bills for the top ten service providers in the Irish market. Once a customer signs up,GetitKeepit.com can sign up the customer for paperless billing for a range of utility bills.
‘‘We then retrieve all of your bills – old ones and current ones – said Coleman. ‘‘We analyse them and gather them together, so it is easy for consumers to go to one place, look at their utility bills and ultimately pay them.”
Utility providers such as ESB and Bord Gáis have so far failed to get customers to sign up for online billing.
‘‘Most service providers find that around 1 to 2 per cent of their customers are on paperless billing, and some of them less,” said Coleman. GetitKeepit.com aims to sign up 40,000 customers in the next year.
‘‘If you enjoy online banking and the access and convenience it affords, we’re trying to provide a product that’s comparable in terms of giving you access to personal administration, starting with home bills,” said Coleman. ‘‘But ultimately we describe the product as your smart postbox because we can do this for other classes of documents as well, like credit card bills and insurance details.
‘‘There is a wide range of important information we are receiving from many different channels and providers, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep on top of all this information.”
Coleman said he was trying to appeal to people who are disorganised. ‘‘The whole inspiration for me around three years ago was driven out of a deep personal frustration of being time-poor and unable to deal with personal administration in an easy way.”
The company has been able to tap into some impressive advice.
‘‘We made a point of trying to source people with the best experience in Ireland and abroad in terms of driving online businesses,” said Coleman.
The GetitKeepit advisory board includes Colm Long, online operations director for Facebook in Europe; Ian Rosarius, British Telecom wholesale chief information officer; and a senior investment banker with Merrill Lynch.
‘‘I think all of them were genuinely impressed with the business model and what we had managed to build,” said Coleman. ‘‘They are very supportive of indigenous business and the concept of the knowledge economy. We’d like to think GetitKeepit encapsulates that type of business.”
The firm has set its sights on Britain and will launch there in the summer. It has patents pending on the business model in the US. The service is free to consumers, so it needs the support of utility companies to generate revenue.
‘‘How we make money is we sign agreements with the service providers where we will share in the benefit that they glean from having people turn off post and packaging. If it costs €1 a month to post out bills, we get a percentage of the saving made from the customer going online.”
The company expects to move into profitability in two years. It has just signed up its first service provider, a large mobile phone operator, and Coleman is confident that more will follow.
‘‘We have a very strong pipeline.
We’ve engaged with all the service providers in the market and had a positive reaction from all of them,” he said.
The company will not invest heavily in marketing, but expects service providers will promote the site to benefit from a switch by customers to paperless billing.”
Click here for the Sunday Business Post article