Sometimes all it takes is that first deal. For more than two years after launching his company Overhaul, in 2016, Barry Conlon was still struggling to convince a first customer to take a chance on his supply technology solution.

He believed his product was a gamechanger to a sleepy industry, allowing real time visibility on fleets and cargo. And he had industry pedigree, after selling his previous company FreightWatch to United Technologies in a 2012 multi-million euro deal.

But, in an industry defined by an aversion to risk, Conlon was finding it difficult to land his maiden customer. Conlon wanted to replace hardware with software and bring a SaaS model to the industry.

Eventually, a blue-chip brand agreed to a limited trial. Days later, he got a call saying they wanted to roll it out across the US. For Conlon, a former member of the elite Army Ranger wing in the Irish army now based in Austin, Texas, it was an immediate gamechanger.

Spurred on by this victory, other companies quickly signed up. According to Conlon, Overhaul now has 20 clients in its books, including Fortune 100 companies in the healthcare, tech and food sectors.

Growth has been equally striking – it tripled in size last year and will repeat the trick again this year, Conlon says.

The growth has not gone unnoticed. Yesterday, the company announced it had raised $17.5 million to fund future growth, with Edison partners, a $1.6 billion growth equity firm, stumping up $15 million of that figure. The result came from Abbey International Finance Group, a Dublin based finance house that previously put seed capital into Overhaul.

In total, the company has now raised $27.5 million. Conlon said the company was not revealing a valuation, but confirmed the founders had retained majority control.

At present, he said the company employs eight people in Ireland. Within two years, he anticipates that number will grow to 55, many in high value engineering and tech jobs.

Based on this, even on the lowest possible valuation, the business is valued at well in excess of $50 million. Conlon said he was attracted to Edison’s track record of growing companies.

With the new funds on board, Conlon says the company planned aggressive growth in 2020. Much of that will come within the US, where it intends to grow staff numbers from 58 to 150 within two years.

But, from its new European headquarters in Dundalk, Co Louth, it also plans an expansion across Europe, a market Conlon believes is ripe for its technology.

At present, he said the company employs eight people in Ireland. Within two years, he anticipates that number will grow to 55, many in high value engineering and tech jobs.

Conlon believes Overhaul could revolutionise supply chain management. But just what is the unique point of difference that has clearly captivated its investors? And having done it once before, can Conlon build another high impact business?

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Supply chain management is now a rapidly growing business.

Back in Dublin for a number of days from his new base in Texas, Barry Conlon is explaining why UPS trucks (almost) never turn left. By favouring right-hand turns at all times — unless a left is unavoidable — the carrier saves millions of gallons of fuel each year, and avoids emissions equivalent to over 20,000 passenger cars.

The practice started decades ago, before computers and GPS, and is now managed by a software that conjures the most efficient route for each truck.

Who is Barry Conlon?

Barry Conlon is a former member of the Irish Defence Forces, Irish Special Operations Unit, Army Ranger Wing, and gained security operations experience in all aspects of Special Forces Operations during his eleven-year tenure. He moved from Ireland to Texas and became a citizen in 2011. He is the founder and former CEO of FreightWatch, which helped product cargo from hijackers. The company was acquired by United Technologies and has since been rebranded as Sensitech. Educated at CBS Lucan, he also worked as a management consultant with Blackrock Consulting Group.

Conlon tells me the UPS example highlights the practical and financial impact of smart management of their supply chains. Companies, he says, have been frantically seeking their own ‘left turn’ strategies.

“Supply chains have traditionally been sleepy. But now they are becoming weaponised. Companies want to reduce costs and increase their margin,” he says.

Overhaul has developed AI products to predict supply chain disruptions and recommend resolutions, something that can assist Overhaul’s customers avoid costly and time-consuming shipping delays. It also helps companies automatically correct noncompliance, such as a driver going on a detoured route.

“It is about visibility and predictability,” Conlon says. “We are able to provide actionable insights to customers and real time data that will speed up their supply chain.”

It is a high growth space. Supply chain leaders are considering year on year cost-cutting measures while examining how emerging technologies such as AI, robotics, and blockchain will potentially have long-term impact to their bottom lines. By 2023, at least 50 per cent of large global companies will be using AI, advanced analytics and IoT in supply chain operations, according to global research firm Gartner.

“It has taken five years to become an overnight success. But there has been a lot of work to get to where we are.”

Barry Conlon

Data from McKinsey, meanwhile, states that companies that aggressively digitise their supply chains can expect to boost annual EBITDA growth by 3.2 per cent—the largest increase from digitising any business area—and annual revenue growth by 2.3 per cent.

“We are tripling in size, but we are only literally scratching the surface,” according to Conlon, who said the product could be used by any company that moves, buys or sells a product.

“It has taken five years to become an overnight success. But there has been a lot of work to get to where we are.”

Conlon said the Irish operation will be a springboard for growth across Europe. With different drivers speaking in different languages across different countries, he said Europe was “tailor made” for Overhaul’s solution.

“Europe is big on our list,” he says.

In relation to the Irish jobs, the company said the roles would include Developers, UX/UI Designers, Product Managers, Program Managers, Architects, Data Scientists, DevOps, and QA. Several roles have already been advertised for immediate hire and more will follow.

“We are looking forward to embracing the talent pool in Ireland and offering exciting career paths to support the growth of the next generation of innovators,” said David Broe, CFO of Overhaul.

The company has also incorporated a law enforcement connect solution into its offer, whereby it could link up with police immediately if something went wrong with a delivery. When theft occurs, the solution provides the ability to send lost tracking data and other shipment data directly to smart devices of law enforcement to help recovery.

“The company is about making technology to solve real life problems,” Conlon says. “We provide visibility and help you solve problems. We are also making spreadsheets a thing of the past for supply chains.”