The Competitive Start Fund (CSF) provided Geowox with a much-needed early-stage cash injection, allowing founder and CEO Stefano Francavilla to focus on the product and strengthening relationships with clients. Here, Stefano describes how the CSF supported Geowox’s growth.

Marco Giardina, Stefano Francavilla, Paul van Bommel, Founders, Geowox

Geowox develops automated valuation solutions for the property sector. Traditionally, valuations are performed by manual surveyors which can be slow, inaccurate and in the case of large asset books, unfeasible. Geowox uses innovative open data, automation and machine learning processes to set its valuations, allowing for scaled, fast and verifiably accurate deliverables.


Understanding problems and developing effective solutions

In the beginning, we knew that open data and machine learning had the power to revolutionise the property sector but we didn’t quite know how, and we didn’t have a product. Most of the first year was spent talking with industry incumbents, trying to truly understand their problems, in order to develop and propose an effective solution.

From there, building and improving our initial MVP was an important challenge to tackle. We mostly rely on open data, which is not always available in the ideal size and shape. Finding the right solution to tackle such issues was challenging and exciting at the same time. It forced us to think in new ways, bringing to the table new and creative ways of problem solving.


What inspired you to work for yourself?

The short answer is: Passion.

The slightly longer answer: I’ve always been attracted by the idea of entrepreneurship. After winning a small sum of money at a start-up competition while still at University, I founded my first venture. At that time, I didn’t know anything about venture capitalists and angel investment. Creating a new business from scratch, I tried to build something that really solved a problem. Also, being surrounded by people you’re excited to work with, is key for me. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that it allows you to create a collection of experiences that are always unique, independently from the outcome.


Hands-on mentoring and support

The CSF was vital in the early stages as it provided a much-needed cash injection, allowing us to fully focus on building our product and strengthening relationships with prospective clients. The hands-on mentoring and support from Enterprise Ireland were also invaluable.

The CSF enabled us to focus on the market discovery phase and product development to expand our reach.


Demonstrating global ambition

Pre-seed start-ups can really benefit from applying for the CSF. Enterprise Ireland has a supportive and “entrepreneur-friendly” attitude to collaboration. In the application process, what really needs to shine through is that you have global ambition and a product that will allow you to grow in international markets.


What’s next?

In the short term, we will grow and consolidate our market leadership here in Ireland. Over the next 12 months we intend to expand to other markets such as the UK and continental Europe. We’ll also be hiring to grow our headcount to 6-8 people by end of the year.


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