By @SimonCocking

Interview with Mark Cummins from Pointy. A Pointy box brings customers to your shop door by automatically displaying your products online. Learn more here.




Describe the company – the elevator pitch …

Pointy’s aim is to get retailers and the products they stock online fast. It does this by means of a small electronic device, the Pointy box, that plugs in between a shop’s barcode scanner and its POS / cash machine. Every time the scanner is used the Pointy box sends the barcode number to us and we use it to generate product information (name, description and image) and then automatically upload it to that shop’s Pointy page.

How are you different?

The big difference with Pointy is that we do absolutely everything for the retailer. Once the Pointy box is installed that shop’s Pointy page will be continually and automatically updated. There is no work to do by the retailer which means that they can focus on their normal business and Pointy will direct more customers to their shop door.

Generally speaking we know of no other company that gets products online the way Pointy does. The combination of the Pointy box and our software is pretty unique and something that sets us apart.

Why will the company / product do well?

I think the nice thing about Pointy is that we solve a problem both for retailers and for the general public. And we do it in a way that’s very low friction.

Currently there is little to no local product-level data online. People can easily find obscure products on Amazon but might never discover that it’s available in the shop around the corner. We believe that it should be easy to find what you are looking for locally. Pointy gives consumers real time information on where products are available locally.

On the retailer side, there’s a huge need to help shops get online in a better way. Most shops have a static website, a Facebook page or Twitter account. A small percentage are doing e-commerce. It’s very hard for a traditional retailer to compete with the big online brands. But consumer habits are changing, and people are increasingly researching online, even if they still mostly buy offline. So local retailers are in this tough position where they know they need to be online, but it’s very hard to achieve. Pointy basically solves this problem with a five-minute install and that’s it. The shop’s Pointy page is continually and automatically updated every time a product is scanned. Once their products are online the local retailers tend to do well in search results thereby gaining back some competitive ground.

Where are you based, how is the broadband? How long will you stay there?

We are based in the National College of Ireland Business Centre on Mayor Square, Dublin 1. The broadband is great, we have no complaints. The Business Centre is a great place to work and it is close to everything in the city so hopefully we will be here for a while!

When was the company launched?

The company was incorporated in January 2014 and we all came together as a team under the same roof in July 2014.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

The day the first Pointy box was installed in a shop was an incredible moment as we went from being a company with a cool concept to a functioning business. Another great win for us was closing a €1.1m seed funding round earlier this year. We have some well-known investors on board, so it’s great to have that kind of support.

What type of people are you trying to attract to your product?

For now we’re focused on building up our network of retailers. We are working with all kinds of retailers from every different market vertical. The need for a good online presence is pretty universal across retailers. Once we’ve got a large network of retailers involved the next step will be to focus on the consumer side.

Tell us about your team?

Myself and Charles Bibby are the two co-founders of Pointy. We met while doing our PhDs in Oxford. After university I ran a start-up called Plink which I sold to Google and then worked for them for several years. Charles did his PhD in robotics and designed security systems for the London 2012 Olympics.

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

Our aim is to create a search engine for local products and roll out the service internationally. Our short term goal is to create a network of local shops in Dublin and then work with retailers to see what services and other products they want built in order to get more value out of their improved online presence made possible by Pointy.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

I’m not really a gadget person to be honest. A laptop and smartphone covers everything I need.

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

I care a lot about ergonomics, and a lot of technology sucks on this front. I wish there was a better way to read on my smartphone – if it could just levitate at eye level while I was reading that would be great.


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 @SimonCocking


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