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Unleashing Entrepreneurial Success: Insights from Tomas O’Leary, CEO of Origina

On the latest episode of the Programmable World podcast, host Dan Ilett, Managing Partner at Tollejo, interviews Tomas O’Leary, the CEO and founder of Origina.

Tomás has carved out a niche for his company as a leading independent third-party software support provider for IBM software. In this episode, he and Dan explore the lessons he has learned along the way.


Staying One Step Ahead

Tomás explains that in 2009 he read an article commenting on the profitability of ERP systems’ software maintenance. “That was the trigger for the idea” he explains. He questioned whether “this must also be the case with every other software company”. 


At the time, his company was partnered with IBM, selling maintenance contracts that the customers only ever saw as an insurance policy. 


“I thought, this is all wrong…”


This was the turning point that sparked Tomás’ journey into software maintenance and the creation of Origina.


The Power of Networking and Community

Tomás recognised early on that he needed to establish some credibility in this new market he had carved for himself.


Conferences emerged as the go-to gathering places for big companies grappling with software-related challenges. Recognising this, Tomás immersed himself in these conferences and leveraged them as a platform to showcase his expertise.


To differentiate himself, he called out the practices of vendors such as Oracle, SAP and IBM. In the episode, he recalls “By calling out some of their sharp practices, I got a following… I knew I was going to alienate a significant portion of the room”. However, what Tomás was looking for were those “ten to twelve people” who were open to learning about innovative, new ideas. 


“Not everybody will believe every story” – and that’s where the strength of Origina stems from. By tapping into the ‘resource’ of people who are open to alternative solutions.


This outlook opened doors for Tomás, leading to conversations with large banks, insurance companies and other prominent organisations. 


Leveraging Expertise 

When expanding Origina to the North American market, Tomás understood that a surface level knowledge of US culture wouldn’t suffice. 


Tomás explains his approach to gaining an in-depth understanding of a new market, “I decided to seek advice rather than make assumptions based on what other people in Ireland or Europe do. What do Americans think? What do business people in America, who are in the technology space think?”.


By reaching out to experienced tech entrepreneurs in the US, Tomás learned what it takes to establish credibility in the North American tech market.


Tomás recalls one of the first significant pieces of advice he received, coming from one such advisor. 


“Why would you want to move to America?”


This allowed Origina to pivot their approach, emphasising the importance of building a strong local team at their base in Ireland first.


The insights Tomás gained from industry veterans provided Origina with the impetus to grow their business successfully. Today, the US market represents a substantial portion, accounting for 60% of their global operations.


You can listen to the rest of this conversation on through our Buzzsprout page to find out how Tomás built his business in North America, his advice to founders of companies going to market and more.


You can stay tuned to the Programmable World podcast by following the Tollejo website.

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