As mobile phones grow smarter every day, the consequences of losing them become more severe. As well as friends’ and contacts’ phone numbers and personal text messages, phones can contain potentially sensitive emails, access to online banking as well as photographs which may not be easily replaced.
When Irish company YouGetItBack.com was founded in 2004 by Paul Prendergast and William Fitzgerald, with then-CEO Frank Hannigan, it was initially focused on the production of physical tags. The team were soon joined by Pat Lynch and Peter Bermingham, and the company pivoted into the area of mobile device security, developing software which help deter the theft, and aid recovery, of mobile devices, tablets, and laptops, while continuing to make physical tracking tags.
“We kind of came to this market when it wasn’t desperately fashionable”, recalls Paul Prendergast, now the company’s head of sales. “Only about two and a half years ago, you’d walk into a carrier and smartphones might only be 6% of their portfolio; that now is over 50% and it’s growing rapidly.”
Following the change in focus, the company went, “Into R&D mode,” and only returned to the market in the past two years, which Paul understatedly describes as having, “Gotten quite interesting.”
The Cork-based company’s Mobile Superhero software is now available across a range of platforms including Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry, while an iPhone version is available in the United States. Laptop and Tablet Superhero software is also available, as are the physical tags with which YouGetItBack.com started.
Where YouGetItBack.com has really excelled, though, is in the provision of white-label solutions through collaborations with partners including Best Buy, Tesco, Vodafone, and Telefonica.
YouGetItBack.com’s software is now available in every one of electronic retail giant Best Buy’s U.S. stores as part of their Geek Squad Black Tie Protection. Like Mobile Superhero, this software offers features such as remote, automatic, and SMS locking, SIM change locking, Device Scream, Location Mapping, Theft Deterrent and Recovery Encouragement.
“The feature set is very, very strong”, says Paul. “We’re one of the very few companies globally who have got large-scale anti theft implementation in place right now with big clients, and that gives our customers peace of mind because we’ve shown we can do it with big customers at a huge scale. We’re in every one of their [Best Buy’s] 1,200 stores with those programmes. And for a very small security software company based in Cork, that’s a very big win for us,” says Paul.
“It’s really a case of working with large insurance companies and warranty providers is our main focus right now. That may change, as the market matures, but I think that’s definitely our primary focus.
“We’re big believers that we should leverage Telefonica’s brand, Best Buy’s brand, or Tesco’s brand, as opposed to trying to build our own brand, and that’s working quite well.”
It has worked so well that, in addition to the USA, they have just closed their first deal in Mexico, and are active in Canada, the Philippines, Spain, the UK, Holland, and Ireland.
“We’re currently at about twenty staff and we expect to increase our staffing quite considerably over the next twelve to eighteen months. There’s a large number of deals that we have just signed that will be going live in the next three months and they would be household names, so that’s going to be good for us.”
Paul attributes the company’s success to a skilled team, and a dedication that has seen the group, “…pretty obsessed about the whole anti-theft, loss recovery space for a large number of years”.
“It’s a very strong engineering company. Peter [Bermingham] has built an incredible engineering team, and typically, when we’re up against other competitors, major, billion-dollar organisations, we’re beating them hands down, because the engineering and technology is better, because we’re very, very focused on what we do.
“It’s very hard for people who’ve only entered this space in the last nine to twelve months to have the depth of knowledge that we have had.”
Paul acknowledges that Enterprise Ireland have played an important role in YouGetItBack’s success, with their international offices providing invaluable advice and connections.
“Enterprise Ireland have been with us literally since day one. When you’re relatively small and you don’t have the contacts, Enterprise Ireland are a huge asset to any company that’s exporting globally, and whether it be Japan, China, Australia, South America, you name it, these guys have huge contacts.”
Although commercial contacts will have to be maintained in these new markets, Paul maintains that the company’s core development team will remain in Cork.
“It’s quite fashionable to outsource a lot of software development, but the quality of development, and the amount we can get done with a relatively small team is incredible. Big clients of ours are always very surprised that we can get stuff done so quickly, to such a high quality, with such a small team, so our view is, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.””