Founded in 2009, Barracuda FX provides trading and risk management software solutions to leading global banks and financial institutions. Pioneering the paradigm that every transaction is an order, their innovative Foreign Exchange Order Management System gives banks complete control and confidence to significantly transform their Foreign Exchange business by increasing revenues, reducing costs and removing operational risk. In their short history, Barracuda has established itself as the industry leading provider of specialised Order Management technology in the $4 trillion a day Foreign Exchange market, counting many of the world’s largest banks as clients.
Maurice Curran is the COO and co-founder of Barracuda FX Limited, a financial software technology business delivering FX software products to the banking industry. A graduate of Financial Information Systems from Trinity College, he cut his teeth serving 10 years in IT Operations with the Investment Bank of Ireland, and Group Treasury. He joined Cognotec in 1998 to learn more about the world of e-commerce and FX Trading which were booming at the time. Performing a number of roles from head of IT, to running the cloud service for all clients, to head of professional services to COO, he gained vast experience on the do’s and don’ts of how to run a business. When Cognotec took a different direction in 2008/2009, Maurice and Kieran got together and created Barracuda. In his spare time, Maurice is a keen golfer and a mentor of the under 8 GAA team in Clontarf where he lives with his wife Roisin and two children.
Kieran Fitzpatrick is CEO and co-founder of Barracuda FX, a multi-award winning provider of electronic trading solutions for global banks and financial institutions. With over 20 years Foreign Exchange experience, Kieran is a recognised industry expert and has worked in senior technology and management roles in leading financial technology and quantitative trading firms developing innovative FX systems. Kieran holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Trinity College (Dublin) and an MBA from University College of Dublin. When not developing FX trading systems, Kieran coaches the future stars of Cavan gaelic football in Killeshandra where he lives with his wife Sharon and two children.
Barracuda FX provides trading and risk management software solutions to leading global banks and financial institutions. Our innovative Foreign Exchange Order Management System gives banks complete control and confidence to significantly transform their Foreign Exchange business by increasing revenues, reducing costs and removing operational risk. Our unique view that “every transaction is an order” is truly disruptive and challenges the thinking within FX trading today; ideally positioning the company to be the vendor of choice to manage all of a bank’s FX flow.
It was this unique insight and the belief that we could build a better mousetrap that led us to found Barracuda in 2009. Through serendipity or perseverance, (we’re never quite sure), in our first year of business we signed one of the Top 5 banks in the world as our first client. Sharing our vision and willing to be an early beta partner, this relationship quickly validated our vision and funded the early development of our product. Working with such a complex client gave us the product depth to cater for practically any scenario that any bank is likely to face.
Although the company is in its fifth year, the reality is that we only completed our product for general distribution at the end of 2011, so from our perspective, we’re really only actively selling our product in the market for 18 months. These last 18 months have been very successful for the business with Barracuda winning all business opportunities that we competed on, as well as the Profit & Loss industry award for best OMS for 2011, 2012 and now 2013.
Our traditional market is FX to the banking community, with a strategy to build credibility by adding as many banks in the top 50 to our portfolio as possible and, once critical mass has been achieved in that segment, to bring a cloud-based offering to market for banks 50-3000.
Our team has grown to 25 people all based in our Dublin office with all bar our head of Sales (Liam), Kieran and Maurice, focused on design, development and deployment of our products to our clients.
We are not at liberty to publish our client list but we have amongst our customer base some of the top 50 banks in the world. All of these banks are global in their usage of our product as the orders are passed from continent to continent following the sun.
– ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHTS –
What vision prompted you to start-up your business?
We saw a niche in the market and believed we could tackle it better than anyone else. The Foreign Exchange industry was growing dramatically, even in 2009, and its structure and participants were changing – the emergence of high-frequency and algorithmic trading, the growth in cross-border trade, the search for alternative alpha – trading FX as an asset class. We felt a new paradigm would emerge, that everything is an order, and we built our product offering around that.
What were the best & worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?
Maurice: The best piece of advice I received was to believe in my vision, follow my gut and not to listen to the naysayers. I have been lucky to surround myself with good people, so bad advice gets filtered out very quickly.
Kieran: In terms of worst advice, it was the idea that you need to raise large amounts of capital very quickly to develop an enterprise offering.
How did you secure your first investment?
Barracuda has been fortunate to find a client partner to share in our vision and invest in the development of our product suite with us. By building our product in partnership with a top 10 global bank, we also quickly achieved High Potential Start Up status with Enterprise Ireland. We were also selected as the InterTradeIreland All Island Best High Growth Startup 2010. These two organisations were fantastic at raising our profile and introducing us to the key investment firms in the country. Between a combination of Enterprise Ireland and the AIB Seed Capital Scheme, Barracuda raised our initial seed capital at an appropriate stage of our development.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
Growing organically, from your own revenues, from day one forces you to be very disciplined in how you spend and when you invest. In the early stages, there was a lot of uncertainty in the business – when will we sign the next client, when will we get paid, what’s next – that kept us constantly on our toes. As we’ve established ourselves, that pressure has abated but you always remember those “back-to-the-wall” moments.
What moment or deal would you identify as the “game changer” for the company?
The game changer was the initial validation of signing our first client, one of the Top 5 largest banks in the world, while still at a product concept stage. It validated our vision, helped accelerate our product development and ensured we were revenue generative from the beginning.
What are the biggest challenges you face now?
Retaining the responsive, agile approach of an early stage company while still growing at 50-100% per annum.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Our most compelling achievement to date was seeing our Dublin-based technology successfully implemented and operational in several global foreign exchange banks just 3 years after we set up; banks with hugely complex requirements and demanding clients that would only accept the best.
What top tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?
Do proper market research, talk to the potential customers and listen to their feedback, because they are the people who will ultimately purchase your product.
Ignore the people who say it can’t be done, as they are often the people who have never tried themselves.
Failure is not a bad thing provided you learn from it.
Believe in your product and team – if you don’t have that belief and passion, nobody else will.
Were there any early signs that you would eventually follow an entrepreneurial path?
Maurice: Yes, I have always had an entrepreneurial personality and have been involved in previous ventures. I’ve also brought an entrepreneurial flair to my management style in my previous organisations.
Kieran: For me, growing up I was encouraged to work hard, always believe in my own ability and be willing to take risks. These attributes stand to you in an early stage and growing business.
Has your “Irish-ness” contributed to your success?
Our “Irish-ness” and Dublin headquarters are definite positives when prospects are evaluating our company. Our work ethic, position as a software development centre of excellence, our communication skills and a sense of humour, all help build lasting partnerships and a successful business.
When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?
The key attributes we look for when hiring are integrity, attitude and ability. Once we’ve established the bar on these criteria, then it comes down to experience, value add, common sense and fit within the organisations culture.