A dream of developing revolutionary technology led Liz Fulham to set up SalesOptimize

Liz Fulham
Liz Fulham, SalesOptimize

As a previous winner of the Female Entrepreneurship Competitive Start Fund (CSF), she has top tips on the application process and understands the challenges facing early-stage start-ups. 

SalesOptimize is a B2B market intelligence and sales lead generation company. We are revolutionising the world of sales lead generation by introducing new technology to the market. Unlike existing lead generation companies, SalesOptimize extracts company and contact information directly from the internet using proprietary web bots that analyse millions of websites each day. In addition, we undertake large market intelligence studies, with our typical sample size being in excess of one million eCommerce sites.


Developing revolutionary technology 

I love designing new products and services that excite customers and staff. I am highly innovative and have always dreamt about developing revolutionary technology that would improve the world we live in. SalesOptimize is helping small and large businesses to seize the eCommerce market opportunity that is exploding globally.


First year challenges 

The biggest challenges were:

a)      Raising finance – the product was expensive and cost over $1M to develop

b)     Raising market awareness of our new technology, as the sales lead generation industry is seen in a negative light and operates in a very crowded market

c)      Finding the most effective marketing tools and services. It’s easy to spend crazy sums of money on Events, Branding, SEO, Advertising, etc. But after two failed attempts, we finally found the perfect SEO vendor and consultant. We are now scoring A+ on SEO which is driving traffic to our site without giving away the shirt off our back.


Gaining access to Enterprise Ireland supports 

I applied for the CSF, partly for funds but more importantly to gain access to the incredible support network that’s provided by Enterprise Ireland. Our first year was amazing, with invitations to the Irish Embassy in London, start-up program in Silicon Valley, and an invitation to meet President Higgins in the USA (despite the fact I walk past his door every weekend when I go for walks in the Phoenix Park). It’s also great to have the support of the UK and US Enterprise Ireland offices when travelling.  

The CSF gave our business credibility with our Angel investor and clients, and assisted us in getting the minimum viable product to market. Once we started generating revenue, we were then able to apply for HPSU and start selling internationally – over 90% of our sales are exported.


Top tips on applying for the CSF 

  • Keep the business plan simple and achievable
  • Validate the problem you are fixing and the true size of your addressable market. I have seen other companies run out of cash, as the problems they were fixing were not that great, or the market was already saturated
  • Your team is more important than your technology. Many people make the mistake of focusing on the product.  Talk about the problem you are fixing, the size of your market opportunity, and why you as a team can fix this problem. It’s people that solve problems, technology is just an enabler. The true rock star is you.

Plans for the future 

Next steps include raising our next round of funding of €2m, localising the product for European markets, and launching the company in the US. 

Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here.