Interview with Stephen Kenealy, CMO, Monsoon Consulting
Describe the company – the elevator pitch …
We are a diverse team of digital experts who research, design, build, support and help commercialise user-centred, enterprise grade content and e-commerce platforms on Drupal and Magento Commerce technology. We have designed a collaborative service delivery model around agile and scrum. Our goal is to deliver a great experience for our clients and a great product for their customers, while always hoping to have some fun along the way…
— Monsoon Consulting (@monsoonconsult) January 23, 2017
How are you different?
Our approach makes us different. As a services company with aspirations for being a product company, we have productised our service. We build repeatable intellectual property around how we research, design, develop, support and commercialise our clients’ content and e-commerce platforms. Every session during discovery, whether it be business, user or technology focused, is carefully considered and crafted in order to get the information we need to get started. We deliver early and often, enabling us to test, learn and improve our work through iteration.
What also differentiates us is a very strong software development DNA. Drupal and Magento are powerful technologies with a dominant market share. But it’s hard to find the specialist skills to harness and derive value from these technologies. We have some of the best development and QA engineers in the country in these two technologies. They work alongside our Product Owners, User Experience and Design experts to produce user-ready content and e-commerce platforms.
Finally, the culture we are developing in the team is moving us forward. There’s an openness, transparency and real honesty to how the company is run, where everyone’s voice is equal. We run daily company standups. We’ve created a leadership group or ‘Panchayat’, whose purpose is derived from rural Indian culture where elders would come together to offer counsel and solve disputes. Our Panchayat group meets out in the open to discuss strategy, performance and our improvement board. It’s open to anyone to join, contribute or ask questions.
— Monsoon Consulting (@monsoonconsult) February 14, 2017
Why will the company / product do well?
We’ve been around the block a few times and have made a few mistakes along the way. But we’ve experienced fairly rapid growth over the last 2 – 3 years. We are operating like a start-up, except with a substantial body of knowledge and a long list of clients under our belt. That feels like it’s giving us an advantage. Also, the way we work is helping us win, and then deliver. Our user research, our agile approach, and our specialist expertise in e-commerce, particularly B2B e-commerce which is a real growth area, are helping us stand out both in Ireland and in the UK.
Where are you based?
We’ve been on a bit of a journey and our places of work have reflected that. Bharat and I started out in our respective apartments, shuffling back and forth up the canal between Burlington Road and Ringsend. We then got a shared desk space in a Georgian house on Harcourt St, but within a year we had to move on as the landlord was forced to sell. We moved with one of our neighbours, Catalyst DNA, from Harcourt St to another Georgian house on Harrington St. We spent 7 happy years here around the hustle and bustle of the eateries and coffee shops of Camden St. We finally outgrew that house in 2015 and moved to Terminus Mills in Clonskeagh.
We now have a large, open plan space, where we write on the glass and every wall has been turned into a whiteboard. Our new office is really conducive to our way of working and has helped us shape the company in the last 12 months.
We took a shot at a UK office 2 years ago but didn’t put boots on the ground. So, last year, with previous lessons learned, we opened an office opposite the Ritz Hotel, in the heart of London’s retail mecca. We now have a team of 2 full-time staff and 3 travelling from Ireland on a weekly basis.
When was the company launched?
We started in 2006 and have been through several mini evolutions in our 10 years. We began as a web and software development outsourcing house, but hit our ceiling in terms of growth. Our latest evolution began in early 2013 and has been our most successful to date.
What have been your biggest wins to date?
Our success has been driven by the people we’ve managed to hire and retain over the last few years. It’s these folks who have helped transform the business. Also, back in 2012 we became a certified professional partner of Magento which was a big deal for us. We’ve picked up awards along the way. We’ve been shortlisted for Web Awards and even won a Golden Spider. This year we won an award at the inaugural E-Commerce Awards as well as being shortlisted in the Large Agency of the year at the Eir Spiders.
What type of people are you trying to attract to your product?
We are working with some really great brands and businesses now and have had great loyalty from our clients down through the years. We’ve delivered digital content and e-commerce platforms and products to Retail, Food and Pharma Distribution, Sports, Local Government, High End Fashion, Not for Profit, Finance, Hospitality and Real Estate. Because of that, we have a pretty diverse client portfolio. We love working with interesting companies and organisations to learn about their challenges, growth plans and to help them along the way.
Tell us about your team?
CEO Bharat Sharma and I run and own the company. Along with the Panchayat leadership team, we steer the course. We’re a team of 35 multi-disciplinary technology, user research, frontend design, content, and e-commerce performance experts. We all follow agile practices to deliver value to our clients. We are big proponents of fostering community around our practices and technologies. For example, we run the Magento Meetup in Ireland and are regular supporters of the Drupal Meetup. I also co-founded the Ecommerce Association of Ireland in 2016.
What are your long term plans for your product / company?
We recently announced growth and employment plans for the next 18 months. We see further growth in Ireland and our expansion into the UK market driving these plans. This year we plan to really expand our team in the UK. In particular, we see our B2B e-commerce experience and expertise as a key driver for this growth. We’ll constantly refine and improve our agile delivery processes and make our our clients’ experience with us as good as possibly can be.
What are your favourite tech gadgets?
We have an array of gadgets floating around the office. Easily the most used is our brand new DeLonghi coffee machine. Our oldest gadget is our 8 year old printer which only ever gets called into action when we need to print new commercial or employment contracts. We love cranking it into action though!
What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?
We’d love to automate the tendering process if we could. The problem is no two tenders are ever quite the same.
How do people get in touch with you?
@monsoonconsulting on instagram and on Facebook