Voxpro is Ireland’s leading exporter of multi-lingual Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), providing innovative solutions to complex customer service issues.
An alumni of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Dan Kiely joined Pageboy Communications in 1992 as Sales Manager and was soon promoted to General Manager. In 1995, Dan and his business partner, Linda Kiely purchased Pageboy Communications. Following the acquisition of Eirpage, the national paging network, from Vodafone in 2005, Pageboy Communications expanded into the wider contact management arena, providing clients with an integrated business solution across phone, web, email and SMS. The same year Pageboy Communications rebranded to Voxpro and since then Dan and his senior management team have continued to distinguish Voxpro as a world-class leader in the provision of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) solving complex customer service issues for international brands such as Google, DoubleClick and Accenture, many indigenous Irish companies and several Irish government agencies. In 2011, Dan was appointed to the Board of CCMA and in 2012 he became Chairman of the CCMA Skillnet Outsourcing Steering Committee. Dan is also a Director of the Global Critical Messaging Association (CMA).
Linda Kiely is an experienced business professional with a reputation as an extremely astute strategic thinker. Since the company rebrand in 2005, Linda has been instrumental in the strategic development of Voxpro’s business working closely with CEO, Dan Kiely, and the Board of Directors. As Co-founder and a Director of Voxpro, Linda continues to drive the business forward and plays a key role in formulating the company’s growth and diversification plans, as well as maintaining the culture of Voxpro as it develops and transforms. From its earliest days, Voxpro has always understood the importance of giving something back and in 2013 Linda accepted the role of Chief Cultural Officer, taking responsibility for fostering this culture within Voxpro which has been a pivotal part of the company’s success.
Voxpro is Ireland’s fastest growing and leading international exporter of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), delivering innovative customer contact solutions to clients in international and domestic markets. Voxpro is best described as the unseen, but critical, link connecting businesses to their clients on a 24-7, 365 days a year basis.
In 1995, Dan and Linda Kiely funded an MBO at Pageboy Communications, the first Irish company to introduce wireless messaging to the market. Following the acquisition of Eirpage, the national paging network, from Vodafone in 2005, Pageboy Communications continued its development and expansion in order to meet and exceed market demands in the contact management sector.
Rebranding as Voxpro in 2005, the company continued to expand its reach across the technology, healthcare, financial and communications sectors. Over the past number of years Voxpro has won numerous client contracts while competing against European and US companies in the Business Process Outsourcing space. Today, more than 80% of Voxpro’s turnover originates from companies with headquarters based in the US, making the company a truly international success story.
Voxpro distinguishes itself within the highly competitive international BPO market by focusing on early stage products and organisations that are making their first foray into international markets. This approach is reinforced by the success achieved to-date with Google, Travelzoo and DoubleClick. These global businesses are forging ahead with expansion plans into European markets and all three are utilising Voxpro for their EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa ) customer management requirements.
In 1995 the company had 8 employees. By the end of 2013, Voxpro will have almost 400 multi-lingual technical sales and service professionals based at its three locations in Cork. Voxpro has doubled in size every year for the past three years and has grown from a monthly turnover of IR£20,000 in 1995 to a forecasted turnover this year of €15million.
Earlier this year, Voxpro won a Deloitte Ireland’s Best Managed Award and also received the special recognition award for Strategy.
As part of its strategic vision, Voxpro is actively working on a number of projects to further expand its reach beyond Irish shores by targetting US companies with a Go-to-Europe strategy. With strong core competencies in the provision of high-end, technological and customer support services, delivered by its highly skilled, multi-lingual employees, Voxpro will continue to hire the right talent to position Voxpro as a leader in the provision of best practice customer service globally.
– ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHTS –
What vision prompted you to start up your business?
Having worked up to the role of General Manager of Pageboy, Dan realised that he had the vision to make the company better than it was. He had always wanted to be his own boss and have the freedom to build and run his own business. Linda had worked in a variety of roles and sectors, always preferring to be in control of her own destiny. In 1995 she found she was in a position to do just that and, despite advice from financial institutions and others to the contrary, structured the Pageboy MBO with Dan.
What were the best and worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?
We were told to “always hire the best – don’t compromise on what you think is the right hire.” Our people have always been our differentiator – their flexibility and skill sets mark out Voxpro as a different type of BPO.
We also put great store in the Winston Churchill quote: “Do what’s necessary to succeed.”
How did you secure your first investment?
Having made the decision to buy Pageboy from its owner, Noel Murphy, in 1995, we began the task of putting together the finance to affect the deal. The advice from all the financial institutions approached was that this was a bad deal and not to go ahead. We’ll always be grateful to Noel Murphy for providing the opportunity and his advice in helping us to secure the loan.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
2012 was a very challenging year when we aggressively pursued a number of opportunities. Without the help of Enterprise Ireland and the financial institutions, Voxpro would not have secured the new business. We could be accused of over-stretching ourselves but our passion and belief in what we were doing, along with our very strong management team, resulted in us winning the business and stabilising the operation. Looking back at 2012, a year of 100% growth for Voxpro, we always believed that we would find a way.
What moment or deal would you identify as the “game changer” for the company?
Acquiring our 1st international client was a “game changing” moment for Voxpro. Even though that contract was for €500/month, it was the significance of identifying and securing this company. We were subsequently able to use this client as a door-opener to other potential international clients.
What are the biggest challenges you fact now?
Our biggest challenge is taking Voxpro to the next phase and handing over our baby in order to be able to springboard Voxpro.
What top tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?
- Don’t give away skin in the game – don’t give away equity cheaply.
- Choose your business partners carefully – people who appreciate you and your passion.
- It’s all about perseverance.
- Business is business, but you need your health.
- Look for a good mentor.
Were there any early signs that you would eventually follow an entrepreneurial path?
Both of us always had a strong desire to manage our own affairs / be our own bosses and when the opportunity arose, we went for it.
Has your “Irish-ness” contributed to your success?
Being Irish is hugely significant in the context of international sales and has proved to be a big differentiator for Voxpro in Silicon Valley.
When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?
We need to be stimulated by new people; people who can take Voxpro to the next level and who we can learn from.