ChannelSight, the ecommerce firm founded by the man who built the first Ryanair website, has secured $7 million in debt financing ahead of a plan to raise $20 million from investors next year.
John Beckett, who co-founded the Clontarf-based company with Niall O’Gorman in 2013, told the Business Post that the company wasn't in a rush to draw down the funds it has secured from Liquidity Capital. But, he said, given how quickly ChannelSight is scaling, it made sense to have the money readily available to take advantage of opportunities.
Tel Aviv-headquartered Liquidity, which funds later-stage technology companies, recently announced a new raise of $775 million from Apollo, the private equity house, and MUFG Bank, which it plans to use to back more firms. eToro, the social trading platform, and Infra.Market, a construction tech firm, are among the companies to have previously secured financing from Liquidity.
ChannelSight started out developing “where to buy” buttons that brands could add to their digital content to help generate sales by pushing consumers towards online retailers.
In recent years it has expanded its offering to include “digital shelf” analytics that gives in-depth insights into consumer thinking. Such analysis helps brands obtain optimal product listings and give them an overview on areas such as inventory monitoring and pricing. ChannelSight also provides valuable data on just how effective marketing spend is to "ensure brands get more bang for their buck".
The company, which broke even for the first time in late 2020, has experienced significant growth on the back of the move into analytics and expects record revenues for 2022 with sales up 40 per cent year-on-year.
ChannelSight is currently working with nearly 300 brands across 70 markets and its clients include Danone, Intel, Procter and Gamble, Whirlpool, and Johnson and Johnson.
In late 2021, the company announced plans to create 60 new roles ahead of a larger expansion that would see headcount rise to 350 by the end of 2023. Beckett said ChannelSight, which currently has 150 employees, may surpass its original target with as many as 400 staff working for the company by the start of 2024.
"We recorded huge growth during the pandemic as more brands looked to do more through digital channels. We've maintained such growth and are looking at a very strong fourth quarter with a number of other brands set to go live with us shortly," Beckett said.
"Obviously, economic headwinds don't look great generally, but from a strictly business perspective this presents opportunities as brands are looking for the kind of insights we provide to help them optimise their marketing spend,“ he added.
Beckett, who rose to prominence after building Ryanair's first website while still at school, said ChannelSight is targeting further growth in the US in particular. North America currently accounts for about 30 per cent of revenues, even though the company doesn't have much of a presence there. Beckett said the company is considering making its first acquisition to accelerate growth there.
"We have a three-year plan to become the global leader in the space in which we operate and the US is central to those plans," he said.
He said ChannelSight had now become essential to many brands.
"What we saw over the Covid period was a change in perception of us from a nice-to-have service to one that is critical in terms of providing strategic advantage to companies," said Beckett.
Beckett said he was happy that ChannelSight had grown at a slower pace than other companies, particularly given the pressure that some tech firms are under during the current economic uncertainty.
Repeating Warren Buffett's well-known phase about how it is only when the tide goes out that you discover who's been swimming naked, the entrepreneur said "now is the time when a lot of companies who have raised significant sums from investors have to show they can meet their valuation".
With that in mind, Beckett has been more conservative than others when it comes to taking on external financing to aid growth.
The company raised €10 million in early 2019 in a Series B round to help fund its expansion into analytics. Backers include Amsterdam-based investor Connected Capital, Nauta, Dublin-based Act Venture Capital and Enterprise Ireland.
According to accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office, revenues at ChannelSight Limited were €5.35 million last year, up from €3.3 million a year earlier with the firm reporting an €800,804 pre-tax loss.
Beckett suggested that ChannelSight will look at start-ups that could find themselves in difficulties during the next year or two.
"I think there are going to be some really interesting opportunities with companies that have some great products and clients running out of cash. Some of these may help accelerate our roadmap to market," he said.