Spearheading a Digital Revolution in Skibbereen; Spearline Lab’s Kevin Buckley talks National Digital Week
11 Jan 2016
Posted in: Business Support
As we move into 2016, we’re revisiting one of the biggest surprise success stories of last year – the first ever National Digital Week. In November, over 4000 people flocked to the West Cork town of Skibbereen for the inaugural edition of this exciting new event which saw sixty speakers over four days discussing all aspects of the digital economy globally and in Ireland.
Kevin Buckley is CEO of Spearline Labs the Skibbereen-based company he founded in 2003 with college friend Matthew Lawlor which provides testing tools for toll and toll-free numbers worldwide.
We spoke to Kevin about the past and future of the company and his experiences at the first ever National Digital Week:
“We’re an any number toll and toll free testing company, so we test phone numbers for companies globally. Companies would have Freephone numbers around the world which would be running back into contact centres, or conference companies might have them going back into centralised destinations.
“What we do then is to test the numbers to make sure they’re live and active, and to make sure the quality on the line is of the requirement they need. And also we test to see that it’s going to the right destination, routing to the right agent, or even going to the right contact centre.”
Kevin sees customer service as essential in shaping the business and is always ready to listen when a customer has an issue or suggestion: “Everything we do is based around the customer. We will go to our customers constantly asking what they want, what’s coming down the line, and what issues they have.
“We started off as business around phone systems, but a customer came to us with a problem and that’s how we moved into the testing side of the business. We’re always pushing it, putting money into research and development to get ahead of the curve and make our product the best.”
The company’s move into testing was potentially risky, but it’s one that’s paid off with Kevin intending to expand the business considerably in the coming months. “I think the decision to go into testing has been a decision we’ve made together that’s been huge. We completely changed the focus of our business and what our products are.
“We were putting the whole tradition of the company on the line. We currently have twenty people here, eighteen months ago we had 6 people and in the coming months we plan to expand to forty people.”
Kevin is proud of the company’s Skibbereen roots and is excited by the buzz that National Digital Week has brought to the town. “I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I was lucky enough to have a busy week that week, so at the start I was in New York, and then I got to go to the Web Summit, and then I came to National Digital Week for the rest of the week. And it was absolutely brilliant and inspiring.
“The Web Summit is very much aimed at people starting up and trying to get investors into the company, whereas the Digital Week had a flavour of entrepreneurship, with guidance about starting up, but it also had a lot about how to grow the business and learning from what other people have done.
“It told us what we were doing wrong and doing right, and I think there was a lot to take away from it. I think there’s a very strong digital economy and I think National Digital Week is a fantastic reflection of that.”
He sees the success of National Digital Week has vindication for a local business community which has worked hard to make Skibbereen an attractive place for forward thinking companies to do business: “I think it’s had a very strong impact on the local community. I was at a conference a few weeks later and someone asked me where I was based. I said Skibbereen and he said “ah, the digital capital of Ireland!” So I think it’s put out a very strong message about the town’s place in the digital economy.
“I think the Web summit has been hyped a lot but people don’t
really understand what it’s for, and I think a lot of people who
attend realise that it isn’t for them, and many of them are looking
for something closer to National Digital Week. So I think it will
create a little bit of a whirlpool around that, and there’s a huge
potential market for it.”