Headquartered in Dublin, Ergo offers IT solutions from cloud and managed services to software and infrastructure solutions.
Having co-founded the company 20 years ago, John Purdy has transitioned it from focusing on the sale of IT commodities to providing software solutions and IT infrastructure services to multinational customers.
A graduate of Cranford University, London, he has qualifications in strategic management and marketing. He was a participant in the Enterprise Ireland/Irish Software Association leadership for growth programme at Stanford University. In 2011, he was named Person of the Year at the ICT Excellence Awards.
June 2013 saw Ergo celebrate 20 years in business. Since it was founded, Ergo has grown from three to more than 200 employees, with turnover rising from IR£300,000 in 1993 to €24.5 million in 2013.
The company has become IT partner to a number of organisations, including the GAA, Primark, Eircom, Mercury Engineering and Laya Healthcare.
With a focus on research into new products and services, 2013 saw Ergo’s first product, FlowForma, an enterprise forms management tool with business process functionality being developed, launched in Ireland and exported to the UK.
What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start up in business?
I wasn’t content working in an organisation which was happy to settle for good enough, who were not prepared to drive innovation and who lived on past successes. I wanted to shape something which was truly customer-centric, where innovation was actively encouraged.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
Summer 2012. We had invested heavily in building a software product for the corporate banking market. We were making good progress but we needed more investment. We were concerned that continuing to fund the business would put the overall business at risk. We brought in external private equity, and just as importantly, we brought in people who had gone on a similar journey before with a positive outcome. Whilst we diluted our shareholding, the business flourished. In September 2013, we brought in additional funds from Investec, increasing the valuation by five-and-a-half times the valuation in September 2013. The spin-off company, Fenergo, now employs 80 people in Ireland and the UK. Recently, it opened an office in Boston and is forecasting sales this year of €12 million.
What moment/deal would you cite as the “game-changer” or turning point for the company?
There are many. Winning our first managed service deal with Microsoft in 1998. In 2001, winning the contract to build the retail banking solution for Bank of Scotland and winning our first off-island deal with Primark in 2008, managing print across all of their European sites.
When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?
Hunger to succeed and technical ability that raises the game. I’m also interested in people who are better than me and have the ability to lead. Most importantly, I look for people who can understand and empathise with the customer.
Have you started to feel the effects of the economic upturn within your sector/industry?
Absolutely. It is definitely evident. The kind of projects we are doing and that are in the pipeline are all progressive and not defensive. There is a distinct shift in focus from cost-cutting measures to projects which deliver real business advantage.
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