Back in 2004, Ireland experienced an economic resurgence (remember Celtic Tiger II?), and the demand for skilled software providers was high. Brothers Paul and Gavin Doherty recognised this opportunity and thus, Software Design was born.
But a few years later, as we all know, the economy crashed. And while many companies struggled to survive, Software Design managed to grow incrementally. Today, the company has a tech savvy team of 40 and provides solutions in bespoke software, eCommerce, mobile app development and web design for large multinationals, the public sector and small businesses alike.
As one of the newest members of the team, I sat down with directors Paul and Gavin to find out more about their journey and hopes for the future.
What were you doing before you joined Software ?
P: My interest in computing and software started at the age of 8 when I was lucky enough to get my first computer, a Commodore VIC20. I was always more interested in programming than playing computer games and I had written a number of games and even an application to help write business plans before I started college. In college I studied electronic engineering to further my understanding of computers and technology and after I graduated, prior to founding Software Design with my brother, I was involved in 2 other startups and spent 9 months working for Corel, who are probably best known for their product, CorelDraw.
G: I have always had an interest in technology and how it can be used in business. I was in my teens during the .com days. At the time, I was building websites for companies which was very lucrative for a teenager. I went on to study Software Engineering at Dublin City University and continued working part time. I worked with start up companies and I had the opportunity to travel the world, attend conferences and to see the latest technologies. After college I worked for a company building web and mobile applications. I then worked as an IT contractor in the financial sector before Software Design.
Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?
P: When I was growing up, my father had his own business and for me, running your own business was the normal thing to do. It was something that I was never afraid of doing and a direction I was always going to go.
G: I have always considered going into business for myself even before I knew what business that would be. When the opportunity came I was fortunate enough to be in a position to take it up.
What’s it like running a business with your brother?
P: Working with family can be challenging at times but there are many advantages. We both bring complementary skills and experiences to the company and we play to each others strengths.
G: The dynamics are definitely different working with family but there are a lot of benefits that are easily overlooked. I think it’s important to have different roles.
In the early days, what were the biggest challenges?
P: Cashflow is always the biggest challenge for a small business. Ensuring that enough money is coming in (and at the right time) can be a challenge. As we grew, the management of growth became the next challenge. Investing in software and systems enabled that growth, allowing us to focus on our core activities.
G: Looking back the biggest challenge was lack of resources and experience. In the beginning, we had to wear many hats to deliver a project – sales, business analysis, project management, design, development, QA, support and all the other administrative duties that go with running a business!
What are some of your biggest achievements?
P: We’ve won a number of awards recently for our work and it’s great to see our clients and our team being recognised for the great work that they do. I’m very proud of and lucky to work with such a great team.
G: The biggest achievement is that we managed to build a company with a great team of passionate people. People who constantly look forward to improving our service offering and the quality of the projects we deliver.
What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed in how businesses use technology in the past 13 years?
P: The three most significant developments in internet related technology over the past 13 years have been the growth in mobile, cloud computing and the emergence of SaaS.
G: The biggest change I witnessed was the rise of mobile devices and internet connectivity. There are a lot of exciting new technologies and applications to come relating to IOT, AI & Blockchain.
What is your favourite thing about Software Design?
P: The people and the technology. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to work with great clients and a great team.
G: My favourite thing about Software Design is that we are continually evolving and working with the latests technologies. This is only possible with the support of a very talented team who have a passion for technology.
Where would you like the business to be in 10 years time?
P: I would like Software Design to be a leading global software company. I would like us to be viewed as a trusted partner that helps organisations deliver on their strategic goals and objectives with high quality, innovative technical solutions and services.
G: I would like see Software Design as the go to software development company. I would also like to build a complementary suite of products and services to support the business and our customers.
A couple of years ago, The Digital Hub ran a series on families in business. Here’s what Gavin and Paul had to say.