Tech Humans Of Dublin: Liz Fulham, Sales Optimize

Mapping Dublin’s tech ecosystem, one human at a time.

The process of creating this business has been fascinating.

I was inspired to set up Sales Optimize when I was the head of European telesales for PayPal; I was brought into to solve a problem around increasing productivity and sales, and I was hiring great salespeople, and a few months later managers were saying ‘We’ve got to let this guy go, he’s not hitting his numbers…’ But I remember interviewing him, and thinking how great he was. So I couldn’t tally the guy I interviewed, with the guy who was performing badly. The reason, I discovered, was that he was selling to all the wrong merchants, to nickel and dime operators when he should have been selling to big businesses. And that’s when I had an idea: How do you sell to the businesses that you want to sell to?

The big challenge today with the internet is that it’s so vast. And that’s the beauty of our product. We take all the noise out of the search engine, streamline it, and in four easy steps – identify your product, filter out your results, select the person you want to call, and export the info to a file format that suits – we’re trying to open up the internet to everybody.

I met our co-founder, Colm Ahern, by chance at a CoderDojo event, and we started this journey in late 2013. By 2015, we met Karl Ahern in Wayra, and within 20 minutes he had signed us up – we were the last company he signed up before it dissolved six months later. We absolutely loved it, it was the perfect platform for us. That kicked everything up to the next level.

Everybody loved what we were doing, but there’s no truth like the real truth of a customer, so I just started ringing people. I remember Karl saying ‘You only have to get one customer to start with, Liz, and you’re doing really well.’ And I said ‘What if I get 10? (laughs)’ Then EI selected us to go to Silicon Valley, and I was meeting a lot of people who said ‘Yes – this is a huge market problem.’ So we came back and realized that we had to get serious, and started hiring people, expanded our marketing and technical team… And that’s where we are today. The project is in a closed trial with selected companies, we’re getting phone calls everyday, asking ‘When are you going live?’ Our customers are giving out to us, because they can’t wait to use the product.

If you want to do a startup, do it in Dublin. I’ve worked internationally, in the states and Europe, I’ve lived in Moscow – you will not meet a nicer bunch of people in business to get you over the line than the ones you’ll meet here. They will introduce you to the right people, open doors for you, and the Startup Commissioner is doing an amazing job. It’s a brilliant place to do business. It’s so easy to get around, compared to London, or Moscow, or San Francisco, the ease at which you can get around and connect with people. I love the ease of it.

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