Interviewing Receipt Relay’s Joe Hennigan

Receipt Relay’s co-founders Sean Finnegan and Joe Hennigan

In February, we sat down with Receipt Relay’s co-founder Joe Hennigan to talk about the start-up’s ambitions, current plans, and ideas for the future… 

Receipt Relay are a Galway-based start-up that has developed an app that aims to solve the problem of lost and misplaced receipts, something that can cost people hundreds if not thousands of euro in reimbursements every year.

The app is also designed to help retailers reduce their negative environmental impact and nurture customer relationships. Founded by Joe Hennigan (Chief Marketing Officer) and Seán Finnegan in 2019, the company is also supported by Luke Slemon (Chief Technical Officer). The original duo were still in university when the idea grew legs and have taken a year away from their studies to focus on bringing Receipt Relay to the next stage.

Already, the start-up has won the Fidelity International Fintech for Good competition, been named among the Irish Independent’s 30 Under 30, and secured a number of funding grants through Enterprise Ireland to help boost their undertaking. More recently, the business took part in the PorterShed’s Founder Weekend, a competition where they reached the final 8 teams, from a pool of over 40 teams to start with.

Origins

After just over two years of business, they have already achieved so much and have big plans for the future. But let’s rewind a little: what was the genesis behind the company?

“We started Receipt Relay back in 2019,” Joe tells the PorterShed.

“I’d worked in construction the year before so I used to travel up and down the country, and I’d have to keep receipts for reimbursement and by the end of the week they’d be gone missing, or worse, faded or wet. Sometimes, there would be 70 euro on those or more – it kind of annoyed me a bit, but I thought no more of it,” Joe said.

“Then, I went into university and Sean (co-founder) joined the Business Analytics Society and from that, there was a competition called Fintech for Good.

“Seán had worked in a retail shop, and he often saw people come in, take receipts, throw them in the bin or throw them on the road, and he’d have to empty the bin every night – often fairly full by the end of the night, so he just thought there has to be a better way of doing this. So, we decided to put our heads together and came up with Receipt Relay.

“The idea essentially works like this: a customer goes into a shop, scans a QR code, gets their e-receipt straight from the checkout to their phone – and there’s no printing needed. At the moment, we have a Beta test in a Clargalway café (Treat Café) and we also have it in with the Álainn food stand and coffee dock on Blackrock Tower. We hope to roll it out across Galway eventually.”

For Receipt Relay, one of the main aims is to make the retail experience as seamless as possible for the customer – everything is in their hands. It means that when the time comes for filing tax returns or recording expenses, everything is in one centralised dashboard, ready to be analysed.

“It’ll let you download the receipt as an online PDF version, but if you scan it with our app, then it will allow you to download the receipt straight to the app. Then, you can filter, sort, share all your e-receipts from one spot,” Joe adds.

Seamless process

Receipt Relay’s app also includes seamless sharing options, allowing users to share their receipts in whatever way they like with whomever they like, through WhatsApp, email, or however the user wishes. 

The app is also designed to make it easier for retailers to build relationships with their customers by improving their KYC. Effectively, the retail software allows the retailer to learn what customer purchases are, improve the efficacy of marketing through one-click messaging, and reduce their carbon footprint by cutting down on the number of paper receipts that are distributed. What’s more, it helps to create a more frictionless process whereby retailers can cut out the need to ask for a customer’s email address.

“We’re hosting it all through AWS (Amazon Web Services), so all our servers are held on AWS. Obviously. that means we don’t need to have a server running in our back room, and it means that we have the added security of AWS.

“So, we approach ePOS providers and we integrate our system with theirs, so we have an API key that they implement into their software, and this allows them to issue a software update. If you want to take our system onboard, all they have to do is turn on the switch and our system is there; so, we’ll just be grabbing the receipt information from the checkout then.”

Funding and The PorterShed experience

Already, the team has secured funding through a number of sources, most recently Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund. This has enabled Joe, Sean, and Luke to develop their plan from ideation through to a fully functioning solution.

That said, Ireland still has a way to go in terms of backing businesses, and a shift in mindset to line up with our US compatriots would surely benefit a lot of start-ups.

“In the US it’s not so much ‘will this work?’, it’s ‘how much money will I make if this works?’ – that’s their mindset, from what I’ve heard from people who’ve tried to raise money in Ireland and then gone to the US and raised a lot of money.

“For us, money is a good catalyst to improve your business, but I don’t think it’s the only factor; it’ll help you with your problems, but it won’t solve them.”

Currently headquartered in the PorterShed, Joe tells us that he’s been impressed by the community, and loves the collaborative spirit that permeates throughout.

“There’s somebody that has a ‘98 Ford Focus outside, and somebody that has a 2016 Porsche, and you can’t tell who’s who – and they’d equally give you the help. So, there are people at different stages that are more than willing to give you the help, even just chatting outside in the cafeteria – it’s cool, and it’s a nice culture.

“The fact that you can reach out to anybody that’s in your field, that’s an expert, I think that’s amazing and that’ll help us develop,” Joe adds

“We’d been working from home, So, I was up in Limerick and the lads were down in Galway in college and we’d been completely split up, but now to be back home again in a city that I know and to be working with the lads I know, is pretty cool.”

Having a hub like the PorterShed to connect and network with entrepreneurially minded people has been a huge boost for Receipt Relay, but they have lots of ambitious plans for the future.

For now, though, they’re keen to use Galway as a platform to move their software into as many retail stores as possible.

“We’re trying to get Receipt Relay in as many Irish shops as possible, starting specifically with Galway because it’s close, but to be honest I think we’d branch out very quickly.”

By Trevor Murray

Content Marketing Specialist at the PorterShed
Email: trevor@portershed.com | LinkedIn | Twitter