Omagh entrepreneur’s innovative idea made easy with the help of Sir Stelios
You know a business idea is great when you first see it and think: why has nobody thought of that before?
An Omagh businessman has started an innovative new company with the help of mentoring by the Go For It programme, through Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, and with the assistance of the well-known entrepreneur behind easyJet, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. His clever online business is one of those you’ll wish you had thought of.
The Go For It Programme is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) programme.
Connor McCann established OmaRentals in the early 2000s, which has become a leading property letting and management business in the Fermanagh and Omagh region. He had set his sights on starting up a second business, to compliment his already successful property agency, but he had yet to come up with an idea.
During an Easter family break in 2017, Connor had what he describes as “a lightbulb moment”. With his many years of experience in the property business, he came up with the idea of a website to streamline the legal process of buying and selling homes, through an online conveyancing service. He considered creating a price-comparison website whereby solicitors and conveyancers could bid directly for the provision of this legal service which is essential for anyone buying or selling a property. With almost 100,000 residential property transactions across the UK every month, he thought the idea could really take off.
The same weekend, Connor spotted a social media post for an entrepreneurial competition run by the founder of easyJet Sir Stelios’s easyGroup. With just seven days before the closing date, Connor got to work, burning the midnight oil, putting together his pitch, to meet the looming deadline.
Within days of submitting his entry, Connor received the news that the concept interested Sir Stelios, who invited him to London to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch just three days later. Again, Connor worked around the clock to flesh out his idea into a workable model to impress the panel. Clearly the work paid off as Connor found himself back in London, being announced as one of five successful winners of the competition, securing £10,000 and the licence to use the “easy” name.
easyConveyance.com was officially born. It is a comparison website for home buyers and sellers to compare quotes based on price, location and customer rating. Users of the service can also track the progress of their sale or purchase.
Connor McCann, owner of easyConveyance.com said:
After winning the competition, I was sent off to see what I could make of the idea. This is where the real work began as, at that stage, an idea was all that it was - it was up to me to turn it into a business. At that point, I contacted the council and got on the Go For It business startup programme through Fermanagh & Omagh District Council. Working through Omagh Enterprise, the advice, support and mentoring assistance provided through the Go For It programme has really helped support me as I run my two businesses side by side and family life in between.
“It’s a very digitally-focused business and most of the work and investment to date has been on getting the website right. We now have several hundred solicitors and conveyancing firms registered with the site which uses the latest technology to deliver a transparent and accelerated conveyancing service. I am delighted that it’s finally up and running and we’re already doing business. It’s a really exciting time.”
The Go For It Programme is delivered free of charge thanks to local councils, by a team of experienced business mentors, through Northern Ireland’s wide network of participating enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise. Providing advice on everything from accounts to marketing and business growth, by mapping out a formal business plan, many people find it puts them on the path to progress and gives them the confidence to make the leap of faith that is needed to start their own business. Not all budding entrepreneurs are lucky enough to gain the backing of an angel investor like Sir Stelios, but many Go For It candidates find that their completed business plan is the essential tool that opens the door to other sources of funding and shows more traditional funders and banks that they’ve thought it all through and they really mean business.
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council spokesperson Kevin McShane said: “The Council has long recognised the vital contribution that small businesses make to our local economy and has recently developed a number of business support programmes part funded by the Council, Invest Northern Ireland and the ERDF Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme Northern Ireland 2014-2020.
“As part of the 11-Council Business Start Up Programme, this Council values the Go For It programme as a great vehicle to assist new businesses to set up and grow through free one-to-one business mentoring. We are delighted by Connor McCann’s innovative development of easyConveyance.com and his selection for the prestigious easy Start Up Entrepreneurs award presented by Sir Stelios himself.”
There’s a wealth of support and advice available through your local council. Why not Go For It and make a start?
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business call 0800 027 0639 or visit www.goforitni.com