At Cork Innovates we’re all about championing entrepreneurship. We spoke to Brendan Tobin from Ecanvasser about his successful startup journey and where he wants to go from here.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your startup.
During my final year in University College Cork, I came up with an idea for a political canvassing app to help campaigns capture data when going door-to-door rather than use the traditional method of pen and paper.
After graduating in 2012, I successfully applied to the UCC Ignite Programme which helped the initial college project idea transition to an investable proposition. At the end of Ignite, I raised a round of private investment from a local entrepreneur and I was able to build the product and team.
Over the past 3 years, we have grown the team and built out a powerful software product that is being used by campaigns across the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and India.
What is your vision for Ecanvasser?
The vision is to continue working with all types of campaigns whether they be political or advocacy to ensure there is a level playing field and all views are given an opportunity to be heard.
We are currently developing a second product which helps how organisations interact with the public and stakeholders. We have already built up some excellent case studies showcasing deliberative democracy in action.
What have been your biggest hurdles as entrepreneurs, and how did you get over them?
At each stage of building out a company there are different hurdles to overcome and I have the same answer in solving each of them.
At the start the main hurdles are based around the following: How to explain the idea? How to get started? How to get the initial traction? The second stage: Building out a saleable product, dealing with customers and expanding the team. Stage three (we’re just coming into this stage ourselves): Driving faster growth, maintaining a global user-base and ensuring the company culture remains intact as you grow.
In my opinion, the answer to all of the above is to break everything down into its smallest part. That way the task of building a business is not quite so insurmountable (although it still is extremely difficult). Smaller tasks ensure that there are wins, albeit small ones, to motivate you while you work your way through the company development.
What are your views on entrepreneurship in Cork?
From my perspective, there is a fantastic community of experienced entrepreneurs that are only delighted to help you.
I have found this incredibly useful over the past few years. Even though the companies might be different and they are targeting different verticals everyone has encountered the same problems – it is quite reassuring.
What motivates you – in other words – why do you do what you do?
The real motivation is that act of building something. Seeing the company transition from just myself in a room (trying to come up a with a company name) to an office of 10 people passionately working with me as we support a global customer base is incredibly rewarding.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 24 months bring for the company as we have exciting plans and we now have both the team and the investment to implement them.