We were in The Irish Times last Friday, (April 2, 2010)
thanks to Gordon Smith and the Irish Times team.
GETITKEEPIT.COM, a new website for managing people’s utility bills, has signed commercial agreements with Vodafone and Oxigen that will keep the service free for consumers.
The site lets people store and manage their bills from a range of service providers in a single location. Currently it handles bills from 12 companies including Airtricity, Bord Gáis, ESB, Eircom, Oxigen and UPC, as well as all four mobile phone networks.
Getitkeepit.com doesn’t need commercial agreements with providers to be able to provide its service. The deals with Vodafone and Oxigen differ because they will give the site a share in the money that those providers save on printing and postage by switching their customers to paperless billing.
Chief executive Alan Coleman said the agreements would allow the service to remain free for users. The company hopes to have 40,000 subscribers by the end of the year.
Paperless billing is still in its infancy in Ireland, partly because regulations mean many providers can’t compel their customers to adopt it. Vodafone has more than 2.15 million customers in Ireland but fewer than 2 per cent are thought to use paperless billing.
“There’s a stark dichotomy between us doing so much online – banking, shopping and socialising – and yet we aren’t doing this,” Mr Coleman said.
Having all bills in one location allows consumers to analyse their spending patterns more closely. The site displays graphs comparing the bill costs to the same time a year ago. A monthly forecast feature to be added soon will show people estimates of how much their next bill is likely to cost. Mr Coleman said the data was also valuable to service providers as it could be used to identify trends over time.
Future plans for the site include a live feature to calculate a person’s carbon footprint based on their energy consumption.
The company employs five people and intends to take on a further three or five staff by the end of the year. It is closing a €400,000 funding round from Enterprise Ireland and private investors, ahead of a UK launch this summer.
We are in today’s Metro Herald,
thanks to Alan Caulfield and the Metro Herald team.
Interview by Alan Caulfield, Metro Herald
Former Accenture sales director Alan Coleman, 36,is the brains behind GetitKeepit.com, a freewebsite that allows people to manage all their billsin one place and analyse them. The UCD computerscience and business graduate who went to schoolat Belvedere College explains his new venture
What did you work at before now?
Prior to Accenture, I had my first start-up experience with Macalla Software which was great and gave me a taste for trying my own startup.
How did you get into this business?
I came up with the idea about three years ago based on my own frustrations with trying to manage all my bills and statements. I then got the team together and we started building our technology. I also talked to the service providers to understand their needs.
Who is involved and who has invested?
So far the business has been funded by the management. I have a fabulously experienced team including Jim Hannon who was most recently the lead technical architect at RTÉ. In addition, we have sought out a great advisory board including senior executives from Facebook, eBay, Skype, BT and Merrill Lynch.
Any entrepreneurial or business success in your family?
Not in the classic sense but my father was an incredibly hard worker and had a 30-year career with Aer Lingus and then got his PhD from Trinity. So a
lot to live up to.
How does GetitKeepit make money?
It is free to the public. As users turn off their paper bills we make money by sharing the benefits that the service providers make by not having to pay for postage and packaging.
Should the companies be nervous customers will be able to see graphs and stats?
I don’t think they have anything to fear as we are not a comparison website. This information has always been out there – we are just making it easier to understand. This may result in customers changing their usage but the outcomes may well be positive for providers. I don’t think any business loses if they are seen to be open.
Have you seen evidence of people struggling to pay bills?
Not explicitly but there is some evidence people are moving away from direct debit as they try to keep more control of the personal outgoings. With GetitKeepit we alert you automatically when you receive a bill and tell you weekly what’s due, this allows people to plan and not be stressed by unexpected or missed payments.
How has the response been from the companies and from customers?
In the month we have been live, the response has been fantastic. Consumers are joining the service in their hundreds and we are aiming to have many thousands signed up by the end of the year.We have integrated about 12 different service providers so far, and separately we will be announcing some commercial and marketing relationships in the coming weeks.
How do you plan to market the company?
Using online channels for the most part and also by partnering with the service providers to promote the service to their customers who still receive paper bills.
What’s the best business idea you’ve seen recently?
That’s a tough question as I think Ireland is about to see a new wave of some very strong international internet businesses. If I had to pick one, sonru.com have a great product for job interviewing.
Should people be worried about data or identity theft?
Yes but not to the point that it discourages them from taking advantage of all the great services on the internet. At GetitKeepit we take security
extremely seriously and to protect our customers’ data we use bank-level security and get checked daily by McAfee.
Anything else to add?
Go to www.getitkeepit.com and see for yourself.