Sonru wins national final of Bank of Ireland’s Bright Ideas Challenge

Bank of Ireland today (5 March 2010) announced Sonru as the winner of the national final of its ‘Bright Ideas Challenge’ competition, held in the House of Lords, College Green in Dublin.

– Interest free loan of €100,000 and mentoring package

Bank of Ireland today (5 March 2010) announced Sonru as the winner of the national final of its ‘Bright Ideas Challenge’ competition, held in the House of Lords, College Green in Dublin. The company which created a web based tool for remote interviewing competed with three other SMEs to win mentoring supplied by a judge of the event Sean Gallagher, entrepreneur and Dragon on Bank of Ireland’s sponsored Dragons’ Den series and an interest free loan of €100,000 from Kernel Capital.

The ‘Bright Ideas Challenge’ is sponsored by Bank of Ireland, and held in association with Kernel Capital and the Business Innovation Centres. It aims to encourage and support both innovation and enterprise in business start-ups in the early stages of developing their business. Sonru was the winner of the South-East regional final of the competition held in 2009 and received a prize of €5,000 from the Bank, along with a mentoring and training package from SEBIC (South East Business and Innovation Centre) valued at an additional €5,000. The €100,000 interest free five year loan is from the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, which is managed on behalf of Bank of Ireland by Kernel Capital.

Based in Enniscorthy Enterprise and Technology Centre, the company was formed in 2007 by Edward Hendrick along with the company’s CEO Fergal O’Byrne. Sonru, whose name comes from the Irish phrase ‘BÍ le sonru’ meaning ‘to stand out’, supplies an on-line video tool which can be used for conducting remote interviews or assisting job hunters to prepare for interviews. Using the system the interviewer and interviewee do not need to be on-line at the same time, thus providing convenience and time-saving elements for any user. The video tool has applications within the recruitment, education and customer relationship management (CRM) sectors.

The other finalists in the competition included RendezVu from Dublin, Eventovate from Mayo and ResourceKraft from Limerick. Each of these businesses along with Sonru qualified via four regional finals held throughout the country during 2009.

According to Mark Cunningham, Head of Bank of Ireland Business Banking: “With 85 applications received in total, the competition has clearly proven that drive and passion are two fundamental qualities that Irish businesses require in order to develop and grow. We are very committed to the future of Irish businesses and are approving over 1,000 lending applications each week for SMEs, with drawdowns of over €55.5m per week. Last week alone we supported 637 small business customers.

“Over 2,000 businesses participated in our recent Show Your Business weeks that were hosted throughout the country in 2009. Through these and other initiatives we will continue to demonstrate our commitment to the SME sector and the economy in the year ahead.”

Dr. Daniel McCaughan, Chief Technology Advisor (ICT), Kernel Capital said: “In these difficult economic times the ability to sift in recruitment through a thorough on-line video interview process, which is proven to be satisfactory to both interviewer and interviewee, is a valuable contribution to cost and time savings. Sonru has a very strong management team, excellent client validation and a highly scalable product amenable to an international client base. We expect to see significant market growth in the future”.


5 March 2010

For media queries contact:

Cora Whyte
Group Communications
Bank of Ireland
Tel: 01 604 3324

Notes to the Editor

The other Grand finalists from the ‘Bright Ideas Challenge’ were as follows:

  • RendezVu has an innovative approach to e-learning. They provide immersive education for languages and other subjects through virtual world and gaming technology. RendezVu is located at NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre in UCD. Its Chief Executive is Paul Groarke. The business is the winner of the Dublin final of the competition.
  • Eventovate, a Ballina based software company, won the West regional final of the competition. Eventovate enables hotels to offer additional added value services to customers booking events and conferences; while also enabling them to improve the management, booking and delivery of the events. The company was established in 2008 by brothers Jonathan and Jason Ruane.
  • ResourceKraft provides software based services that assist organisations of all kinds, to measure and reduce their energy usage and carbon emissions. The business was established in 2007, its Chief Executive is Frank Casey and is based in Moylish Park in Limerick. ResourceKraft won the South-West final of the competition.
  • Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund was launched in November 2009 and is managed on behalf of Bank of Ireland and other partners, Enterprise Ireland and University of Limerick Foundation, by Kernel Capital. The €26m Fund invests in start-up and early stage companies, with a focus on export orientated high potential start-up companies that operate in the technology (including green technology), food and financial services sectors, in addition to supporting patent and patent pending projects within Irish universities. It comprises of an investment by Bank of Ireland of €17m, €8m from Enterprise Ireland, and €1m by University of Limerick Foundation.