FORMER Fermanagh gaelic football star, Colum Courtney (43) scored ‘the goal of the season’ on Sunday night when his pitch on RTE’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ secured him a £100,000 investment.
His firm, Hybrid Mail Solutions prints, envelopes and sends off company mail across Ireland and the UK.
And, not alone did Colum get the money, he successfully batted down Barry O’Sullivan’s demand for a 25 per cent share of his company to 20 per cent.
All in all, it was a remarkable boost for Colum, a native of Newtownbutler, his fellow director, Pauline and staff member, Gary Mullaney, but also for Lisnaskea Enterprise Centre where their firm is based.
In setting up Hybrid Mail Solutions, Colum believes he has come up with a way to create a cheaper, greener and faster system for companies.
As he told the ‘dragons’, he aims to take the ‘drudgery’ out of sending mail. In order to use Hibrid Mail, you must download Hybrid’s software (which is essentially a virtual print driver), the customer can then select the Hybrid Mail printer and simply select the ‘print and mail’ option.
And, Hybrid Mail costs are competitive, compared to postal rates charged by Royal Mail and An Post.
There was overnight impact from his 10-minute Dragon’s Den pitch (worth, it is thought, €20,000 in advertising fees).
“Our phones and emails have been going mad. People ringing us from Dublin with orders, and one company that I have been personally trying to see the boss of, they have been on the phone as well.”
Colum explained he got the idea for his enterprise from his days with Quinn Insurance, where he was in charge of call centres.
“We used to be sending out 100,000 letters a week, and I thought to myself, ‘if the one company had the right software, I could do this’.”
As regards applying to appear on Dragon’s Den, that was all done in a matter of hours, having heard the deadline that very day, returning from Belfast. He then saw the same reminder on telly.
“It was just unbelievable. It was as if it was fate. I got out the computer and laptop and, as they say, the rest is history.”
He explained that this £100,000 investment would go on sales and marketing, on IT investment and towards working capital.
He revealed that one firm spends between £3,000-£5,000 a week with his firm, and that his weekly output of mailed letters can hit the 20,000 mark.
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