By @SimonCocking

Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

BookingHawk is a commission free online booking system with diary management. Proven to bring new customers through the doors of businesses using it. The booking system also facilitates the organisation and online bookings of events and provides credit card facilities to the business owner/event facilitator.

How are you different?

Customer Service, Customer Service, Customer Service. When a business decides to team up with us for their online bookings, we don’t take that lightly. If they have a problem or question, we make it as easy as possible to get answered. The whole idea of our booking system is to save our customers time and make them money. If they wanted to spend all day fiddling with software, they would have become software engineers. We take the hassle away and let them concentrate on serving their customers. The booking system was designed and built to be as flexible as possible without suffering from feature bloating. This means that it is malleable to a huge range of business types. Already we have B&B’s, physios, chiropodists, sports facilities, nutritionists, a social media consultancy, a golf society, a psychotherapist, a healer and a holistic centre all registered and taking online bookings with BookingHawk.com.

Why will the company/product do well?

Our customers are very satisfied with the ROI our online booking system generates. For €11.14 per month, it is a very low-cost way for your business to increase your customer base whilst improving efficiency. Almost 40% of the bookings that go through the system happen after 6 pm in the evening and before 9 am the next morning. Using this online booking system means that a business is available for bookings 24/7. The success of our business depends on scale. Our technology and marketing roadmap is aimed at international launch. Right now our team does not have all the roles filled that we need, but we have identified the people and the personality types that will accelerate our growth.

Where are you based?

At the moment I spend half of my week in Dublin and half in Meath. If I need to call to see a customer at their place of work, I try to ensure I have as many meeting set up as possible on the road that day. I have a number of great software tools at my disposal which allows me to have virtual meetings with clients and prospects that remove the importance of my geographic location.

When was the company launched?

We open our early access phase on April 28th, 2016. The idea was to slowly increase the amount and variety of businesses on the booking system. This has facilitated the tweaking of it as feedback came in as well as ensuring that the system could scale. As feedback came in from the trial users, features were developed and modified to make the online booking system more valuable for the users. As of March 1st, 2017, we are fully launched, but instead of investing a huge amount in a launch party, we are investing in the product instead!

What have been your biggest wins to date?

Seeing the first online booking going through last May was great. Then having the first business register for online bookings that was not a friend of a friend. Getting listed on Stripes website as a partner site. Getting accepted into Phase 2 of the New Frontiers Programme which includes funding from Enterprise Ireland. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive customer feedback on a survey we recently circulated. Having IT Carlow register on the system to take online bookings for their all-weather sports pitches. We have had our setbacks too but they have been great learning experiences.

What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?

Any business that has a standard duration service that is currently booked over the phone. We believe that online booking is a great way for these businesses to grow. I have been advised that this segment is too broad so within this segment, I have broken down the market into further segments. There is a broad range of businesses on the booking system already, some with secretaries, some without. From one person operations to a third level institute. When all of these businesses are examined, what they have in common is that they all want one or all of the following outcomes: an increase in customers, an improvement in efficiency or an improved brand perception. So we’re not typical in that we’re not chasing one industry, but we do know who our software will work for.

Tell us about your team?

For now, the only full-time team member is me. I am an experienced Software Engineer and I have worked with AOL, Deloitte and Guidewire. I have also worked as a software contractor for government departments in Australia. I do have some great support available. My dad is a semi-retired entrepreneur and he is great at breaking requirements down to their bare bones. For example, if I am thinking about designing a new feature, he will make sure that it translates back to the real business needs of saving time and making money. He is also a great asset when it comes to testing the site. He does not have a degree in software testing but neither do our users. I would rather focus on building a system that makes sense for a non-technical user, than one that passes 5000 unit tests before it is placed in front of a user that can’t even figure out how to log in! As well as this, my brother Paul is a software engineer with a large multinational in Dublin and chips in when he has a free weekend. My brother Derick is a very talented creative artist and has had great success with abstract pieces. His degree is in design and therefore he is always available for me to get UI feedback from. My first cousin Monica runs a very successful business development company (Monere Development Services) and her business acumen is off the charts. I also recently became acquainted with Paulina Tenner, the founder of GrantTree. Paulina is always available for me to bounce ideas off. GrantTrees turnover just exceeded £3 million so she knows what she is talking about!

What are you long term plans for your product/company?

Immediate steps would be to hire another developer that would work on the internationalisation of the product, allowing it to have other languages and currencies. Already we have had unsolicited interest from Northern Ireland, Germany and The United States. All of these businesses found us online and thought we were the ideal booking software for their business. It is frustrating not to be able to help these businesses out but I know that we will get there. Long term, I want to grow a world-class support team. For me, this would be hiring a team of people that have a very specific set of personality traits. When our customers choose to use BookingHawk.com to take online bookings, our support team will go above and beyond to make sure our customer wins as much business as possible. I have plans on how this can scale and eventually, regardless of where your business is in the world, BookingHawk.com will be your first choice for taking online bookings.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

I am very practical and therefore I am not into gadgets. Aside from my phone and my laptop, my desirable gadgets are software and not hardware. I know that is boring so I will mention my Saorbuga Bluetooth beanie. It means I can take calls and look like a lunatic as I literally talk through my hat! I would never have thought of buying such a device so I was lucky my brother Paul (aka Johnny Gizmo) bought it for me at Christmas.

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

There are some great tools out there that I would love to get my hands on such as close.io and the premium version of heatmap.me. For now, the budget is being used on other priorities.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

You can read about our experiences with growing BookingHawk.com over on our blog. Hosting Ireland is an excellent company and I recommend them to anyone that listens. If you know of a business owner that wants to save time and make money, tell me about them and I will reach out.

How do people get in touch with you?

[email protected] – direct access to the company founder!
facebook.com/bookinghawk
twitter.com/BookingHawk


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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