IIBN asked Brian Egan CEO to give a brief description of his company Purpledecks.

Purpledecks is a software company of longstanding repute. We help companies to build digital products and services around their core technology & strengths.

You can visit Purpledecks website here

Our clients range from well-funded startups to multinationals. We generally work with companies who have a core piece of technology or business process and bring them through the full process of formulating or building a digital product around it. In essence, we tend to help plug the gaps and bring in the skills that they may not necessarily need to keep within their own teams or businesses. This ranges from requirements gathering and UX design to software architecture and software build (web, mobile, cloud). We are well recognised for being mobile and cloud experts. We work across multiple diverse sectors such as Connected Health (Medtech), Media, Retail and Fintech to list a few.

We have been doing this successfully since 2012 for clients in Ireland, Europe and US.

How did you get the idea/ concept for Purpledecks?

I had been working in software development since 1999, predominantly in the mobile development and telecoms sector of both Ireland and Germany within a number of startups and enterprise companies.

In 2011, I started working on side projects to take advantage of the rising opportunities offered by connected devices (in particular Android and iOS devices) which were changing the way people interacted with online services. Some of these projects won a number of awards. In 2012, the company I had been working with ceased trading so I decided that it was now time to go and work for myself and create my own future.

Give a brief account of your education background.

I graduated with a BSc in Computer applications from Dublin City University. This was followed by time working in New York and then spent a number of years working as an EU funded Marie Curie research fellow in Germany.

Did you always know/ever think you would become an entrepreneur when you were younger?

Yes, I was always very independent minded and worked best under my own steam. I always had a summer job and weekend work which gave me an independence of sorts and a fund for college too.

Is entrepreneurship a common trait in your family?

Yes, Myself and my siblings have all been imbued with the entrepreneurial spirit which has been handed down through the generations.

Did you have prior knowledge of the industry before setting up your company?

Yes, I had been working in the industry for 13 years before setting up on my own. I worked through the boom and bust of the dot com bubble so I was aware of both the potential and the peril of being a self-starter.

What was your previous work experience (if any)? Do you think this gave you an advantage when setting up your business?

My experience particularly working in other startups gave me a great insight into setting up a business. Working in startups you are very close to every aspect of the business and witness first hand decision making and also successes and mistakes! My experience exposed me to various good management styles and also taught lessons about the importance of managing finances.

How did you initially fund your business? (self-funded, government funding, etc)

The business was bootstrapped by myself. We started out as a two person company providing consultancy and development services.

Looking back, would you have changed the method of funding you chose?

No, I was happy with the method of funding that I chose.

Did you encounter any financial difficulties in the first year of operation? If yes, what did you do to surpass them?

No, thankfully I had no financial difficulties in the first year of operation.

What characteristics do you feel benefited you most when starting your business?

The two main characteristics were

  1. Tenacity – I don’t like to fail / give up easily.
  2. Communication – good clear communication and interpersonal skills as very important.

To what do you attribute your company’s success/growth to?

I attribute it to two main things

  1. Trust – We build up high levels of trust with our clients who see us more as a partner than a supplier. This leads to a lot of repeat business. We have retained about 90% of our clients from when we first started.
  2. Focus on deliverables – We place a strong focus on deliverables to ensure our clients get the best outcomes from their work with us. We invest heavily in getting to know our clients and understand not just the technical outcomes but also the business outcomes they need from their projects.
  3. Staff – We have been fortunate to retain a consistently hard-working team with multi-disciplinary experience across the technical spectrum. Their dedication to the company and our clients as well as belief in where we are going as a company is second to none.

What is your opinion on the importance of a professional network for an entrepreneur?

This has been essential to me when starting out a business. As somebody with a technology background I didn’t have a lot of experience with sales or the business side of business. A huge volume of our clients initially came through introductions or recommendations from my network.

Do you think entrepreneurship has changed in recent years?

Yes – In Ireland in particular the environment and perception of startups has changed and a lot more people are willing to take that step to embrace the new. Once upon a time entrepreneurship was seen as owning or running multiples but nowadays it is successfully growing your own concept and delivering your own product, on any scale, by just doing things well.

Would you ever consider starting another company or involving yourself in new start-ups again?

Yes. Over a year ago I became involved with another startup called Mapall (www.mapall.com). I had met with the initial founders to speak about technology work and was so impressed with the idea that I came on board. Mapall is the first complete system to track the build and maintenance of fibre optic networks. We are targeting Fibre optic Network operators with our product.

If you had one piece of advice for a new entrepreneur, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to think big and seek help and advice from those in your network who have done it before. Everybody has a lesson to share that can assist you on your journey. Don’t get frustrated by closed doors, resilience is a very important asset. Determination and a good quality product will bring you a long way.

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