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Aonta Technologies

After four years in development, UCD-based Aonta Technologies is profitable and growing quickly.

“We are now cashflow positive and funded from operations. We had a very healthy start to this financial year and we are recruiting now without

any concerns, with three new staff since mid-December, and hopefully two more soon,” said David Seavers, chief executive, Aonta Technologies.

Aonta Technologies provides carrier-grade audio conferencing solutions to the telecoms and conferencing markets.

The First Sale

Established in January 2005 by Seavers and co-founder Derek Moore, the start-up recorded its first sale in January 2009.

Seavers said the global recession had not proven disastrous for the start-up.

“Companies are turning to audio conferencing to save money, as well as reduce their carbon footprint. Where before people might have taken a flight, they are more likely now to opt for a conference call. There are a lot of dynamics at the moment, which persuade people to make the leap,” he said.

Aonta does not charge set prices for products. Instead, it tailors solutions and pricing models to suit individual customers and projects.

“Pricing is a tool in our arsenal from a sales point of view. If strategically we want to acquire a customer, we have that option. We look at our competitors’ prices and at industry analyst reports and then see whether additional tweaking is required,” said Seavers.

Aonta plans to boost revenues in the months ahead with an ambitious sales strategy.

Ambitious Sales Strategy

“As a new vendor, we needed to discount from industry average pricing to secure initial reference sales. Now that we are established, we are extracting a premium for our unique selling points and innovative solution,” Seavers said.

Aonta already has customers in the Ireland and Britain. Further afield, it has agreed deals in Australia and India.

“The US is our main market, but we currently have a lot of interest from India. Although we have enterprise customers in Ireland, we are actively looking for an Irish telephony provider as a customer,” said Seavers.

Bespoke development work, that embeds technology into existing systems, is another route to market.

“We are working with a US bank to embed our solution into their trading circuits, which will allow them to generate revenue in a number of ways. If that works, we have a channel lined up for all the banks,” said Seavers.

Aonta is developing additional multimedia functionality for its core voice product.

Tricky Business

Seavers said that deciding when to commit resources could be a tricky business.

“The trick is to know when to step in and adopt. Too early and it is wasted effort, a bit late and you lose first mover advantage. Google Wave is being talked about a lot at the moment and wideband voice is coming down the track,” he said.

Seavers and Moore were formerly senior executives with Avaya and their standing within the IT community has proven helpful in marketing their new venture.

“As Spectel CTO, I had spoken at industry events and would have been considered an industry expert in this area. A number of analysts then wrote positively about Aonta with Sullivan awarded us Global Entrepreneurial Company of the year 2009,” said Seavers.

Despite this early success, the company protected its cash reserves carefully at pre-revenue stage.

Pre-Revenue Stage

“We purchased PCs from a UK bank that was downsizing. We also outsourced some development work. Being in NovaUCD gave us access to modern offices, high-speed broadband and other soft supports,” said Seavers.

Total investment in Aonta to date stands at e900,000 and includes seed capital investment funding and investment from Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-up Unit support.

“We now have the sales revenues to grow organically. We have been approached by Irish and British VCs, and have not ruled out taking investment. However, we would need to see a strategic fit, which might mean a greater US presence,” said Seavers.