Shane Lynn: Our AIB Start-up Academy story
29 Sep 2015
Posted in: Business Support
LEGEND has it that Isaac Newton’s ‘Eureka’ moment came after an apple struck him upon the head, prompting him to discover the force of gravity.
For Shane Lynn of KillBiller, his Eureka moment struck when he was conducting an Excel audit of his phone plan. A very modern prompt, the technology expert explains: “I had the experience of trying to find a mobile plan that suited my usage. I started off in Excel looking at my calls and texts and realised it was just impossible”.
“I wrote the idea down of creating an app to automatically do the maths and find the best mobile plan for people. I pitched this idea at a Start-up weekend in Dublin, so it was originally born then about 2 years ago.”
Part of a three-person team in the technology Start-up, Shane won a place in the AIB Start-up Academy earlier this year.
Now a fully-fledged business, the app called KillBiller, allows customers to examine their mobile phone use and then recommends a plan most suited to their individual usage.
A simple and effective idea, Shane says building it to bring to market took hard work and dedication.
“We took it on as a hobby for about 8 or 9 months and hacked away at it. It was an opportunity to learn about the technology and to build an app, which I’d always wanted to do,” he explains.
“Once we launched, our initial aim was to get 100 people to use it and that has grown to between 15,000 and 20,000 people using it.
“It’s used by people almost 40,000 times as well, which is great,” he says.
A labour of love for Shane and his fellow KillBiller team-members, Bart Lehane and Ciarán Tobin, he credits the Academy with helping the company to reach a wider audience.
“The peer meeting was very valuable, you spend quite a bit of time together with the other Start-ups. You get to know each other really well,” he explains.
“Once you start to work in an office on your own, you’re a bit isolated. It’s good to get to talk to people doing similar things and to see everyone’s experiencing similar challenges.”
Along with meeting his fellow Start-ups, Shane says the AIB Start-up Academy mentors’ expertise helped the trio further develop KillBiller.
“If anyone is in that phase, I’d say go for it. It gave us great experience in pitching and developing our ideas to a high standard.
“As we’re a consumer-facing company, it was invaluable in helping us to build up relationships in the media as well and to get exposure. Even now a year on, we’re finding that really helped.”
Now planning to expand into the UK and Canadian markets, KillBiller’s bravest move yet came when the team decided to concentrate on their roles with the Start-up fully.
“It’s a full-time pursuit since January. It was the right time to make a move, we had been accepted onto an Enterprise Ireland programme and had received a small bit of funding,” he explains.
“It’s daunting but exciting. You realise that you’ve made a step that a lot of people don’t do and there is a good reason they don’t!
“Actually handing in your notice and turning down a full-time paying role for something that is very uncertain is a scary step for anyone.”
Excited about the future of KillBiller, Shane says there are great benefits to Start-up life.
“You learn real insight into what it takes to build a business and to create a product that people are willing to pay for.
“It’s exciting because we’re branching out to international markets, to England and to Canada, with a similar service.
“For me, I get a kick out of building things and now it’s the thrill of the sales cycle, where you build something you love and then you sell that to someone.”
He adds: “You’re so engrossed in that product, making a sale is so exciting. You’ve built something that someone wants and that’s brilliant.”
“We operate as a reseller of plans. We make commission when people switch plans.”
“It’s a completely independent service. It can be very confusing to try and figure out which plan suits.”
“If someone doesn’t buy something, you can figure out what you need to change and why they didn’t want it.”
Want the opportunity to learn and grow your Start-Up in the company of like-minded entrepreneurs? Submit your application now for a chance to win a place in the next AIB Start-Up Academy.