Axonista’s one-stop shop for video publishing is revolutionising television but it has wider applications, says CEO and co- founder, Claire McHugh

When you established Axonista what problem where you aiming to solve?

I felt the future of television was where TV meets mobile devices. Because being able to touch a screen and actually interact with something is a big deal. But there’s so many ways you can create those experiences depending on the content of the show.

TV3 Ireland and MTV were one of our first customers and they were trying to figure what the future of television was too. Everyone was saying we really need to get onto these new devices but no- one really knew what way the public were going to interact with them.

This was before the iPad came out, so really the question was around: what does the future of television look like on mobile? Where are people going to watch it, how much time are they going to spend? There were so many questions to be answered.

Tells us about your journey?

My founding partner, Darragh Ward, was somebody I worked with at Nebula Technologies which he founded, building up to a staff of 120 people. So he had experience in creating a tech team and I had some experience in start-up tech and I was coming out of Setanta Sports where I was one of the first employees. Streaming technology was really taking off at the time and it was something I was really interested in. I could see from the television contracts that had passed my desk that the lawyers were really taking this stuff seriously.

There was so much innovation, so much happening and there were budgets for it. We got into those budgets working on R&D projects for clients. We were doing a good job so that’s how we grew our customer base.

From that, we were able to identify some commonalities to what everyone was asking for, so we started to build a product and scale it to lots of different video content people. It didn’t necessarily have to be television. The vision was to provide something that was like a one-stop shop for the future of television. So we came up with Ediflo. This gives clients a Content Management System in the background; they can have apps that people would want to watch stuff on; and have very high-quality software that they know works – and then there are interactivity and other monetisation features on top of that.

How has Enterprise Ireland helped?

Our very first funding round was with the Enterprise Ireland High-Potential Start-up Fund and we’ve been working with them ever since. We’ve got great networking opportunities through Enterprise Ireland. For example, they put on great events, which are great door openers. In fact, the most recent customer we got would not have happened but for Enterprise Ireland.

The SME Instrument grant is transformational for us as we transition from a services company to a product-first company. The grant enables us to hire new team members in our engineering, marketing, sales and business development departments in Ireland and the US.

What are you aiming for next?

We estimate the value of our market at around €20 billion. The real scaling part for us is outside television. There are tons of commercial angles. TV has been a big one for us but there’s also publishing, say a magazine that’s using video. And then there’s brands, we see a big opportunity there.

Our plan is to get involved with the likes of retail and hospitality companies who can create video that gets an emotional response from customers who can then buy while they’re feeling inspired. One of our new clients works with charities and NGOs and they use it to attract donations.

We are also going to roll out a developer partnership network so that other developers can use our Software Development Kit and our systems to develop interactive video experiences for lots of companies.