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Snapfix – The ‘WhatsApp for buildings’ scales from Dún Laoghaire

08. 07. 2021

Paul McCarthy

The @DigitalDunLaoghaire team has talked to many members of the Dun Laoghaire digital ecosystem over the past few months. From IADT to NovaUCD to .IE, there’s no shortage of innovators in our town, county, and business community.

Snapfix is yet another shining example of the Dun Laoghaire digital ecosystem in practice. Founded in 2019, Snapfix is best described by CEO Paul McCarthy as the “WhatsApp for buildings” and a simple platform for building, facility, and equipment management.

In 2020, McCarthy doubled Snapfix’s headcount and closed a €1.5m pre-Series A funding round. Snapfix has already won awards, picked up huge clients, and is on its way to being the platform the world uses to “get things done.”

We sat down with McCarthy to learn more about his fast-paced journey from idea to start-up darling and why Dun Laoghaire has been such an important part of Snapfix’s growth so far.

“It was amazing to me the amount of people willing to help start-ups,” McCarthy said.

How Snapfix Grew from an Idea to Landing Dublin Airport as a Client in One Year

CEO Paul McCarthy formally began the journey to create Snapfix in 2019, raising a round of funding in September 2019. Today, Snapfix counts Dublin Airport, Cork Airport, and hotel groups like Hilton, Radisson, and InterContinental as some of its top clients. It’s safe to say that Snapfix has moved at warp-speed, even by SaaS start-up standards.

The Dun Laoghaire digital business ecosystem has played a vital role in Snapfix’s trajectory.

McCarthy credits much of the company’s earliest success to the Enterprise Ireland New Frontier Program, which he completed at the IADT office here in Dun Laoghaire.

“I developed the first prototype of Snapfix to solve my own problem. I was managing a number of commercial and residential buildings, and the information was all over the place – in emails, post-it notes, voice-mails, text messages, on paper. I noticed that the system that people liked to use was WhatsApp – which was great for Chat but not suitable for Task Management. So I decided to use all the wonderful, simplistic features of WhatsApp and add a simple task management layer on top of it – the red, yellow, green Traffic Light. Today, with Snapfix, the world can communicate simply and efficiently using photos, and collaborate simply and efficiently using Traffic Lights.”

“I really benefited from doing the Enterprise Ireland programme because, up to that time, I had spent most of my time working on the product. The programme helped me to focus on other critical areas, including strategy, investment, marketing, sales and finance.  As well as interacting with 20 other entrepreneurs.”

Leaving the program with a clearly defined product and access to a much wider network, McCarthy found quick success.

“We ended up winning the EI Innovation Award in 2020, following the program. It was great to be recognised and the €3,000 prize certainly helped. Winning the award helped to get the word out and generate positive publicity. The EI Innovation Award got us on the radar of some important people.”

Snapfix was also shortlisted by CBRE for the PropTech Challenge (2019) and was a “40 words” finalist at Web Summit December 2020.

Why Snapfix Loves Dun Laoghaire

McCarthy has already achieved what many founders find challenging.  Snapfix has raised funding, doubled its headcount, and achieved industry recognition. And McCarthy and the Snapfix team intend to do so much more. They not only see themselves as “WhatsApp for buildings” in function, but they aim to emulate the scale of the giant messaging platform, too.

Even so, McCarthy plans to keep the hub of Snapfix here in Dun Laoghaire. Originally from Cork, McCarthy settled in Dun Laoghaire about 20 years ago. Back then he saw the town as having so much potential.

“I said when I moved here, “this town is going to be amazing in ten years.” I still say to people, “this town will be amazing in ten years.””

McCarthy loves Dun Laoghaire personally and Snapfix loves the town, too. McCarthy, of course, sees the town as a nice place to live with excellent transport and seafront access. At the same time, it’s an easy town to do business in, especially for a startup.

“Dun Laoghaire is a lovely place to live and work. We want Snapfix to be a big success for Ireland and a big success for Dun Laoghaire,” McCarthy said. “Access to exceptional talent is a top priority for startups.  Dun Laoghaire and the surrounding area, along with the proximity to third level colleges, has a huge amount of talent.”

“Even things like having a beautiful place like the pier to walk is incredibly important for a start-up like ours. Dun Laoghaire pier is the best meeting room in the world. We walk to the end of the pier and back for our most important meetings.”

McCarthy sees big things for Snapfix and the town. He put it best when he told us, “Dun Laoghaire is all good.”

Does McCarthy have any advice for start-ups in Dun Laoghaire or beyond? He said his best advice is this:

“Think big, be ambitious. What you’re looking for is an unsolved problem, a massive global opportunity, and a differentiated solution.  When you have those three, you are on to a winner”