Lockdown opens up opportunities for online Irish start-ups

While Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the global economy with a long recovery to follow, certain sectors have benefitted from its effects. Not just retail giants such as Amazon but small and scrappy Irish start-ups have experienced growth and even secured funding in these tumultuous times.

Lasting memories of lockdown will be grocery-related: queuing for hand sanitiser, booking a slot for an online delivery and stockpiling pasta. The supermarket was a lifeline and online delivery service Buymie has been at the helm.

“Our app allows users to order from large online retailers – currently Tesco and Lidl – and have their items delivered door-to-door in as little as an hour by their own personal shopper,” explains Devan Hughes, chief executive and co-founder.

Buymie has been in the market since 2016 but, as Hughes describes it, earlier this year it felt as if a large spotlight had been turned on to the industry as a whole.

“We signed our first flagship enterprise retail partnership with Lidl in 2018. We went from mid five-figure-a-month sales to six-figure sales in 2019, growing our weekly volume by 2,000 per cent in a year so we were coming into 2020 with a steep growth curve,” he explains.

Buymie was in the process of closing out a €2.2 million funding round led by ACT when Covid-19 hit and found itself funding 10 months ahead of their own business plan with a 300 per cent increase in app downloads. For Hughes and his team, lockdown wasn’t so much accelerating growth as managing it.

“You have to manage it carefully because overtrading can be as dangerous as undertrading, especially if you have a working capital requirement.”

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